OATP all-volunteer phase
|OATP entered its all-volunteer phase on September 1, 2018.|
To insure that OATP serves the OA community as well as it did before, we invite you to participate as a tagger, and help us recruit other taggers. OATP is crowd-sourced and depends on the many-eyeballs principle.
OATP aims to cover OA comprehensively, and can best do that with taggers in every niche — by topic, academic field, country, region, and language.
Because the transition to the new phase of the Open Access Tracking Project (OATP) is partly a result of my circumstances and decisions, forgive me if I sometimes use the first-person pronoun below when describing the new phase and its background. — Peter Suber.
What's the new phase?
- On September 1, 2018, OATP entered a phase without direct grant funding.
- When I launched OATP in 2009, it had grant funding from the Open Society Foundations (2001-2009) and Wellcome Trust (2007-2009).
- In 2011, OATP became part of the Harvard Open Access Project (HOAP), which had grant funding from Arcadia (2011-2016) and the Laura and John Arnold Foundation (2016-2018).
- I'm voluntarily letting my HOAP grants expire without seeking new funds. The new phase is the post-grant phase.
- OATP was always crowd-sourced. But previously the crowd was on the small side (10-60 taggers, depending on the year) and a mix of volunteers and grant-funded taggers. What's new is that OATP will ramp up its efforts to recruit the crowd, and all its taggers will be volunteers.
- I myself will continue to participate as a volunteer.
- The expiration of HOAP funding creates a new phase for all the HOAP sub-projects, and OATP is just one of them. The Open Access Directory (OAD) is another, and I say a bit about that in the last section below.
Please join us as a tagger, and help recruit others to join us!
- Without enough good taggers, OATP could decline in quantity and quality. But with enough good taggers, it could improve in both.
- If you're the kind of person who already follows OA-related news, you're the kind of person we need.
- You could follow OA-related news systematically or sporadically. You could go looking for it, or you could simply pay attention when it pops up in your inbox or social-media streams.
- You could follow it in a specific niche, such as your academic field, country, region, or language. We need taggers in every niche.
- You could follow all aspects of OA or focus on certain sub-topics, such as advocacy, author attitudes, books, business models, compliance, copyright, data, digitization, ECRs (early-career researchers), ETDs (electronic theses and dissertations), fees, funding agencies, gold developments, green developments, history of OA, hybrid journals, and so on. We need taggers on every sub-topic.
- If you have leadership on OA in a certain area, and people trust your judgment about what new developments in that area are most worth reading, you could tag the items you recommend. We need recommendation feeds in every niche and on every sub-topic.
- If you're a project or organization working for OA, you could tag your own OA-related announcements, milestones, and other news. Tag OA-related work by others in your area of interest. Tag your recommendations on the most important work in your area of interest.
- Here's how to start tagging for OATP.
- Use our getting-started handout to join our team of taggers or see what's involved.
- When you try to recruit a promising new potential tagger, share this getting-started handout with them.
- Here's why to start tagging for OATP.
- OATP is the most comprehensive source of news about OA. It supports a general news feed and hundreds of specialized news feeds. It stores all its tag records for easy searching and sharing. It helps the OA community stay on top of what's happening. It helps the OA community study and share what has happened in the past.
- For other ways for volunteers to help OATP, beyond tagging, see the FAQ.
- The new phase is not a farewell. It's an invitation to take part.
Why not seek new grant funding?
- OATP was always intended to be an all-volunteer, crowd-sourced project. The grant-funded years were an incubation period in which we could cultivate the tag vocabulary, refine the tagging conventions, grow the database, recruit participants, and develop the underlying software, TagTeam.
- Moreover, for the seven years before this transition, I had two part-time jobs, one of which was to run the Harvard Open Access Project (HOAP), which included OATP, OAD, and several other sub-projects. In practice, as you can imagine, these two part-time jobs meant two full-time jobs. I needed to retreat to one full-time job.
- Those are the main reasons why I didn't apply for new funding to support HOAP. The problem was not lack of funder interest. I'm confident that if I'd applied for new funds, I could have extended the grant-funded phase of OATP. Nor was the problem lack of my own interest, since I plan to continue to participate as a volunteer.
- If anyone else would like to seek funding to work on OATP, you're free to do so, and I'd be happy to work with you on any details. I'm not even ruling out the possibility that I might seek new HOAP or OATP funding myself in the future. But for now, it's time to test the willingness of the OA community to keep OATP going as an all-volunteer project.
Why not make the transition earlier?
- After launching OATP on a different tagging platform in 2009 (Connotea), we realized that OATP needed features not offered by any existing tagging platform. Hence, we decided to develop our own, TagTeam. OATP started running on TagTeam in 2012. But TagTeam needed more development time before it was ready for a large number of users, many of whom would be impatient with the quirks and rough edges of a young program. Hence, we deliberately delayed recruiting the crowd for this crowd-sourced project until TagTeam was ready. It became ready in the spring of 2018.
Implications for the Open Access Directory (OAD)
- The new phase for OATP is also a new phase for the Open Access Directory (OAD). The same HOAP grants that supported systematic tagging for OATP also supported systematic contributions to OAD. Now both these crowd-sourced projects will depend entirely on volunteers.
- Our grant-funded OAD contributors enlarged nearly every list in OAD. But most of all, they enlarged the list of OA-related events. When we encountered new events, our practice was to tag them for OATP, with the oa.events tag, and add them to the OAD events list. We still encourage OATP taggers to take the extra step and include events in the OAD. But we realize that many taggers will not have the time to do so.
- Just as OATP may decline in quantity and quality, OAD may also decline. But just as a good number of good recruits could improve OATP, the same could happen with OAD. Just as I encourage you to tag for OATP, I encourage you to contribute to OAD. Just as I encourage organizations to tag for OATP within their areas of interest, I encourage organizations to contribute to OAD within their areas of interest.