In a recent meta-study for the German Federal Ministry of Education and Science (abbreviated BMBF), TIB investigated the current state of research on the effects of Open Access. The report resulting from this study has also recently been published (“Wirkungen von Open Access”; https://doi.org/10.34657/7666), here in the blog I have summarised the results of the study. The study relied on the Open Access Tracking Project (OATP) as a control instrument: Using the collection of Open Access references on OATP, we were able to systematically expand the literature on all of the impacts we examined and make sure that we did not overlook any significant studies. After completing the study, we supplemented OATP with the small amount of literature that had not been already recorded there. We use this opportunity to introduce this important resource for information on Open Access to the audience of the TIB blog.
What is the OATP?
The OATP is dedicated to collecting and making available all news and commentary on OA topics in one place. The platform was founded in 2009 by Peter Suber. Different from existing channels such as blogs, OATP was designed to provide a comprehensive collection of the growing number of contributions on OA topics via crowdsourcing. For this purpose, OATP relies on the open source software TagTeam, which was specially developed for OATP by the Berkman Klein Center for Internet & Society. Using TagTeam, users can link items on OATP and tag them in order to categorize their contents: For example, oa.benefit refers to entries on the benefits of Open Access; the tag oa.germany identifies entries on Open Access in Germany.
In 2018, the OATP exited the development phase. Since then, the project has relied entirely on volunteers who submit relevant sources to OATP. Today, the OATP Hub on TagTeam contains references to currently more than 90,000 sources, making it the most comprehensive collection dedicated to information on Open Access there is.
How do you use OATP?
Primarily, OATP content is provided in the form of feeds: Simply subscribe to the primary feed and you will receive notifications of all new content that is entered into OATP. Alternatively, it is possible to subscribe to hundreds of secondary feeds, which inform about new sources with specific tags – or combinations of tags: For example, there is a feed for oa.benefits AND oa.medicine that contains articles on the benefits of open access in the field of medicine. All feeds are available in eight different file formats and are, of course, free to use.
This feature aside, the OATP can also be used as a tool for research: Just use the “search”-function on the project’s TagTeam website; again, tags can be used to display information on any subtopic of Open Access.
As a crowdsourcing project, the OATP thrives on the participation of volunteers who capture, tag, and review entries for accuracy as well as completeness. Anyone interested can sign up at the OATP Hub on TagTeam and then immediately start tagging interesting Open Access items on OATP. Simply use the browser widget to add entries with just a few clicks. There are only a couple of guidelines to follow, mainly regarding the correct use of the tags. The TIB is already involved: In cooperation with Peter Suber, we have started the new tag oa.empirical, which specifically identifies empirical studies on Open Access – among other things, this already includes the literature that was used for the meta-study mentioned at the beginning. The more people participate in the OATP, the more complete and informative this key platform for all topics in the field of Open Access will become.
Dr David Hopf is a philosopher of science with a long-standing interest in both epistemic and ethical problems related to the science system and its infrastructure. He currently works at the TIB publishing services, where he is contributing to a research project on the effects of Open Access.