Announcing the Open Access Community Investment Program

Seeds sprouting in brown containers

We are thrilled to launch the Open Access Community Investment Program, a community-funded open access publishing project developed by LYRASIS, Transitioning Society Publications to Open Access (TSPOA), and Duke University Press.

Our goal is to help match libraries, consortia, and other prospective scholarly publishing funders with non-profit publishers and journal editorial boards that are seeking financial investments to sustain or transition to open access publishing of journals or books. We mean prospective funders broadly, to encompass the range of scholarly publishing stakeholders, including for example: libraries, consortia, and funders, academic centers or departments, and cultural institutions. 

As scholarly publishing transitions away from subscription models, each of these prospective funders has a role to play in supporting sustainable OA publishing. Funders also need useful information about the publications and publishers in order to make informed funding decisions. That is why journals and publishers participating in our pilot are asked to respond to generative criteria in order to provide meaningful evaluative data for potential funders.

In our project’s pilot phase, described in more detail here, two journals are participating in our crowd-sourced investment opportunities: 

  • Environmental Humanities, an OA journal published by Duke University Press, is seeking an annual $30,000 investment over five years for editorial and publication services to support increasing the journal’s frequency from two to three issues per year. 
  • Combinatorial Theory, helmed by an editorial board that recently left a large commercial publisher and is re-establishing themselves as an OA journal on the eScholarship publishing platform. Combinatorial Theory is seeking an annual investment of $25,000 for five years covering publishing services. 

You can support the journals’ publishing goals by visiting the LYRASIS Open Access Community Investment Program webpage.

There you’ll be able to

  • Read more about these publications
  • Evaluate their responses to questions about their publication, governance structure, impact and more to help you determine whether the investment opportunity makes sense for you
  • Commit funds as appropriate

While the pilot’s initial two journals are U.S.-based, the community of investing stakeholders is expected to be global. The investment window is open now through June 2021. We will also be hosting informational webinars in January 2021 (announcements forthcoming) so you can learn more about the journals and the project.

Below, we share more about the project’s goals and deliverables, and why we’re excited to get started with Environmental Humanities and Combinatorial Theory.


We designed the OA Community Investment Program to achieve three key goals: 

1. Criteria-driven decision-making 

We aim to provide potential investors with sufficient criteria-responsive data about prospective publications or projects for them to make principled investment decisions. As institutional and academic budgets shrink, publishing stakeholders face even tougher choices about how to transition away from subscription-based spending. 

It is increasingly important for stakeholders to have sufficient information about investment opportunities in order for them to make principled or data-driven spending or reinvestment decisions. Our pilot seeks to supply potential investors with publishers’ and editorial boards’ responses to generative investment criteria, so that they can evaluate the propriety of investment relative to how and whether the responses satisfy their own investment values and principles. We will study how “informed investments” play into a crowdfunding approach to scholarly publishing. 

2. Infrastructure to facilitate investments

We believe that collaboratively-funded open access initiatives or programs can be centrally administered with infrastructure that enables small-scale transactions between OA investors and OA publications or programs. To help us test and achieve this goal, LYRASIS has created a basic infrastructure (website and payment processing services) to support the administration of the project’s investment transactions. 

We believe that, at scale, this infrastructure will help generate a community-driven approach to fund a diverse array of initiatives, including bespoke OA programs, output from smaller non-profit or OA-native publishers, or niche scholarly output where they do not have a place to go otherwise. 

3. Outreach 

We know that stakeholders need support so that they can be made aware of criteria responses and investment infrastructure. Through webinars, short videos, and other forms of outreach, we will be connecting funders, institutions, libraries, other cultural institutions to help make them aware of investment opportunities, and establish a truly community-driven environment or marketplace.

We will assess the project’s achievement of these goals in a report that examines, among other things, whether funding targets were met by deadlines, and whether there are favorable survey responses from the participating investors and publishers regarding the vetting criteria, funding campaign, and pilot program in general. Project outcomes will be disseminated publicly by September 2021 in a jointly-released project report.

The participating journals

Environmental Humanities

The leading publication in its field, Environmental Humanities publishes interdisciplinary scholarship that draws humanities disciplines into conversation with each other, and with the natural and social sciences, around significant environmental issues. The journal was founded in 2012 as a free-to-view, free-to-publish, open-access publication, and Duke University Press is committed to the journal always remaining Open Access. 

As the field of environmental humanities continues its rapid growth and development, the Press and the Editors want to increase the journal’s frequency in 2022 from two issues to three issues per year and to provide financial support to the journal’s editorial office as the Editors work to decolonize the environmental humanities by broadening the geography of the journal’s authorial voices, readership, and empirical foci. 

Combinatorial Theory

Combinatorial Theory is a new open access mathematics journal, to be published on University of California’s eScholarship platform and expecting its first issue in early 2021. This journal publishes papers in Combinatorics, an active area of mathematical research with applications throughout the mathematical, computational and natural sciences. Combinatorial Theory is owned by mathematicians and dedicated to open access publishing, with no fees for authors or readers.

The journal was founded in September 2020, when most of the editorial board for one of the oldest and most prestigious journals in Combinatorics, the commercially-owned Journal of Combinatorial Theory, Ser. A, announced they would resign in December 2020. The new journal Combinatorial Theory will deepen and broaden the impact of its predecessor, as well as embark on an inclusive vision that is international in scope, with a diverse editorial team seeking top research papers from the global combinatorial community. The journal is committed to fairness and mitigation of implicit biases in its selection processes, including double-blind refereeing. This makes it a pioneer among mathematics research journals.

How you can invest 

You can support the journals’ publishing goals by visiting LYRASIS Open Access Community Investment Program webpage to review the two journals’ criteria responses, evaluate whether the investment opportunity makes sense for your organization, and commit funds. 

If you are instead interested in how your journal or project can seek funding through the project, the pilot is unfortunately closed through March 2021 so that we can focus on launching and testing the initial set of participants. However, we would be delighted to discuss your journal or program’s participation in the project going forward! Please contact us via the channels below. 

For more information 

LYRASIS is a non-profit membership organization that supports enduring access to shared academic, scientific and cultural heritage through leadership in open technologies, content services, digital solutions and collaboration with archives, libraries, museums and knowledge communities worldwide.

Transitioning Society Publications to Open Access (TSPOA), is a group of like-minded scholarly communication professionals from libraries, academic institutions, publishers, societies, and consortia. We established TSPOA to provide support, advocacy, and referral services for societies and publishers of society journals to help with transitioning to open access publishing. We can be reached at

Duke University Press Duke University Press is a nonprofit scholarly publisher with a focus on the humanities, the social sciences, and mathematics. The Press publishes approximately 140 books annually and more than 50 journals, as well as offering several electronic collections and open-access publishing initiatives. 

eScholarship Publishing is an open access publishing program at the California Digital Library, University of California. The program provides comprehensive publication services for UC-affiliated departments, research units, publishing programs, and individual scholars who seek to publish original, open access journals, books, conference proceedings, and other scholarship. Our journals program, in particular, supports nearly 90 publications that traverse standard disciplinary boundaries, explore new publishing models, and/or seek to reach professionals in applied fields beyond academia.