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Building an Open Dissemination System

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Stone, Graham 
Gatti, John Rupert James  ORCID logo
van Gerven Oei, Vincent WJ 
Arias, Javier 
Steiner, Tobias 


COPIM's Work package 5 (WP5) is developing technical protocols and infrastructure to better integrate OA books into institutional library, digital learning, and repository systems. This will support wider discovery and dissemination of OA books. Existing print and ebook distribution channels are difficult for new or OA publishers to engage with, requiring submission of metadata in multiple different formats (e.g. MARC, ONIX, KBART), and many platforms requiring multiple different metadata submissions; In addition, existing distribution channels are not well suited to OA content, while entirely new discovery and dissemination platforms are emerging (e.g. Google Books/Scholar).

Guided by the perspective of new and emerging not-for-profit OA presses that have not yet been sufficiently integrated into existing discovery systems, knowledge bases, and supply routes, the aim of WP5 is to develop methods and systems to better integrate the catalogues of OA publishers into curated research records. The implementation of “best practices” workflows for OA book publishers will allow their catalogues to be better integrated into the scholarly record (discoverability, reach, persistence), increasing the impact of OA books.

WP5 will build an Open Dissemination System (ODS) for OA books and a shared “best practices” digital catalogue. The ODS will be built as a decentralised system, using open source code, open protocols and standards and distributed databases—all under collective control. Doing so will ensure the system cannot be operated for the benefit of a single entity (either commercial or not). The ODS is currently under development under the project name Thoth. It consists of a metadata management system and a suite of exporting functions to allow publication metadata to be exported to all main metadata formats and data transfer with all relevant major platforms in the library and book selling supply chain.

This scoping report is a key deliverable of WP5, in order to support the creation of the ODS. The report itself will discuss the distribution of books via the traditional library supply and new forms of digital dissemination before looking at metadata in depth. Metadata creation and types will be investigated in order to form a number of key recommendations for WP5. These recommendations are noted throughout the report before being grouped and discussed further in the recommendation section (see 9.0).

Rather than publishing this report at the outset of the work package, it was decided to publish a time-stamped version, while simultaneously continuing to develop the report as the project progressed over time, and to encourage comment from the community. Version 1.0 of this report is available here and on Zenodo as a PDF (, and on the COPIM documentation site as a living document.



metadata, publishing, monographs, open access, dissemination, discovery

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