German Ministry Funds Knowledge Unlatched Open Access Project with Von Humboldt Institute

In News by Porter Anderson

Knowledge Unlatched will receive funding from the German ministry of education and research to improve sustainable open-access publishing models.

Image: Knowledge Unlatched, ‘Open Access Heroes 2021’

By Porter Anderson, Editor-in-Chief | @Porter_Anderson

Funding Sven Fund
As Publishing Perspectives readers will recall, Berlin’s Knowledge Unlatched in mid-January announced that it had converted all 21 publications of Pluto Journals to open access, utilizing Libraria’s Subscribe-to-Open (S2O) model.

Today (February 25), the company has announced 24 months of funding from the German federal ministry of education and research for another such project that Knowledge Unlatched is operating with the Alexander von Humboldt Institute for Internet and Society.

The project is intended to “improve the publication of publisher-independent open access journals” that do not have article processing charges “through a support” consortium.

“The focus is on small, transdisciplinary and interdisciplinary subjects,” today’s media messaging says, “as current funding options have not been effective, and the responsibilities of the subject communities are often unclear.”

As Knowledge Unlatched managing director Sven Fund‘s offices describe the new cooperation, the project develops a sustainable model of publisher-independent, quality-assured open access journals in small, transdisciplinary, and interdisciplinary subjects.

It’s a follow-up to a result of the project “Innovative Open Access in Small Sciences,” running from 2019 to this year with funding from Deutsche Forshungsgemeinshaft. In a business full of its own terms and catch phrases, the company refers to the phrase Scholar-led+, calling it an improvement on communication between central actors in the open-access ecosystem: funding and research institutions, professional societies, open-access journals, and new quality-assured publication projects.

In a prepared statement, Knowledge Unlatched’s chief of publisher relations, Philipp Hess, says it’s the “diversity of the content and the players involved that will lead to a solution in which everyone comes together for the benefit of the scholarly community.”

And speaking for the von Humboldt Institute, its open access officer Marcel Wrzesinski says, “With this project, a decisive step toward inclusive networking within the scientific publication landscape can be achieved.

“It’s precisely the diversity of the open access ecosystems and the differences in the various disciplines that have made access to funding particularly challenging so far.”

‘Open Access Heroes’

Image: Knowledge Unlatched, ‘Open Access Heroes 2021’

Earlier this week, the busy Knowledge Unlatched announced an “Open Access Heroes” program designed to highlight the countries, institutions, publishers, disciplines, and authors seeing the most usage of scholarly titles made open access through Knowledge Unlatched. Total interactions including downloads and views for the company’s titles has grown year-on-year by 20 percent and now stands at 10 million. On average, the company reports, each title gets 2,200 user interactions.

More than 2,000 books have been published open-access to date through Knowledge Unlatched’s initiatives, and this number is expected to grow, the company says, to 2,700 titles by the end of this year. Nearly 6,500 institutions worldwide reportedly used Knowledge Unlatched books last year. The most popular discipline was English language and literature, with almost 1.5 million interactions.

Sven Fund

Fund, in a prepared statement, says, “We’re encouraged to see that the usage of the titles we unlatch each year continues to grow.

“Last year, in particular, taught us that open science advances knowledge in all disciplines, both inside and outside the confines of the scholarly community.”

The countries that Knowledge Unlatched sees with the highest usage of open-access books include”

  • The United States, 33 percent
  • The United Kingdom, 9.5 percent
  • Germany, 8.5 percent
  • India, 4 percent
  • Canada, 4 percent

Academic institutions with the most user interactions include King’s College, University of Toronto, University of Cambridge, University of Edinburgh, and New York University.

The book with the most interactions in 2020 was Frankenstein: Annotated for Scientists, Engineers, and Creators of All Kinds  based on Mary Shelley’s work and edited by David H. Guston, Ed Finn, and Jason Scott Robert (MIT Press, 2017), with nearly 55,000 interactions. The MIT Press Frankenstein project is something we wrote about here at Publishing Perspectives in 2018.

Second and third are William A. Pelz’s A People’s History of Modern Europe (Pluto Press, 2016) and Heike Paul’s The Myths That Made America An Introduction to American Studies (Transcript Verlag, 2014), with nearly 42,000 and 33,000 interactions, respectively.

This year’s open access usage assessment results are based on data collected from several hosting platforms, including OAPEN, JSTOR, Project MUSE, and the Open Research Library.


More from Publishing Perspectives on academic and scholarly publishing is here, more from us on Knowledge Unlatched is here, and more from us on open access is here.

More from us on the coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic and its impact on international book publishing is here.

About the Author

Porter Anderson

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Porter Anderson is a non-resident fellow of Trends Research & Advisory, and he has been named International Trade Press Journalist of the Year in London Book Fair's International Excellence Awards. He is Editor-in-Chief of Publishing Perspectives. He formerly was Associate Editor for The FutureBook at London's The Bookseller. Anderson was for more than a decade a senior producer and anchor with CNN.com, CNN International, and CNN USA. As as an arts critic (National Critics Institute), he was with The Village Voice, the Dallas Times Herald, and the Tampa Tribune, now the Tampa Bay Times. He co-founded The Hot Sheet, a newsletter for authors, which now is owned and operated by Jane Friedman.