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Wrapping up 2020

This year we have continued operation of Engineering Archive, our primarily organizational project. The archive has continued to see growth in usage across all metric in 2020 as compared with previous years. The rate of adoption of preprinting in engineering only seems to continue growing over time! In addition, we have started to build a listing of open-source engineering software as a means of shedding light on these projects and helping the community to better understand the available resources. Alongside that effort, we were able to help the authors of CADjs open-source and archive their source code. CADjs (source archived here) is a Javascript-based CAD programming environment, inspired by OpenSCAD, which was originally developed Dr. Krishnan Suresh’s Engineering Representations and Simulation Lab at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. 

A look at 2020’s finances

This year has been difficult for many and the same is true for non-profits where funding has become more difficult to find. At Open Engineering, our primary source of income is the Engineering Archive Membership Circle which directly supports the operation of the preprint server itself. We’ve heard from some institutions that this year has caused their budgets to get tighter, particularly in the libraries, as universities face shrinking enrollments and the challenges of a global pandemic. This is why we are more grateful than ever for our supporters as discussed over on the Engineering Archive blog.

With that said, Open Engineering is currently in a stable position to start the new year. We have raised approximately 65% of our expected expenses for 2021 and we hope that over the next couple of months we will get close meeting our financial commitments for the year.

In 2020, Open Engineering had income of $2542.82, the majority coming from membership fees and a small portion from individual donations and interest credits. We had expenses of $4069.47, which includes service fees paid to the Center for Open Science, credit card processing fees, domain registration fees, and paperwork filing fees. The difference being funded by balances carried over from 2019.

Looking ahead

Our fee paid to COS will remain $3999 for 2021 based on our submission numbers which remained, just barely, under 500 for the June to July time-frame that they track. We expect that despite the difficulties in raising funds, we will be stable through 2021. Unfortunately, based on our growth, we expect our fee to be increased to $6999 for 2022 based on the COS fee schedule. With current levels of support through the membership circle, we will be unable to raise sufficient funds to cover this increased fee. This situation will require careful monitoring and consideration, to see if the community can continue to support a preprint server in engineering. Other alternatives include possibly moving to a self-hosted option, but this also would require community support as well as a dedicated partner to provide technical expertise. Ultimately, we are reliant on our institutional and community supporters to sustain our operations, and we need the community’s support now more than ever before! We would love to have your feedback and ideas in the comments.

Partnering in the Community of Open Scholarship Grassroots Networks (COSGN)

Open Engineering has signed on to a collaborative effort being spearheaded by the Center for Open Science to develop a “network of networks” with a proposal submitted to the NSF 19-501 AccelNet program. If funded, we will be one of 120 partnering networks/organizations. From the proposal:

The Community of Open Scholarship Grassroots Networks (COSGN), includes 120 grassroots networks, representing virtually every region of the world and every research discipline. These networks communicate and coordinate on topics of common interest. We propose, using an NSF 19-501 Full-Scale implementation grant, to formalize governance and coordination of the networks to maximize impact and establish standard practices for sustainability. In the project period, we will increase the capacity of COSGN to advance the research and community goals of the participating networks individually and collectively, and establish governance, succession planning, shared resources, and communication pathways to ensure an active, community-sustained network of networks. By the end of the project period, we will have established a self-sustaining network of networks that leverages disciplinary and regional diversity, actively collaborates across networks for grassroots organizing, and shares resources for maximum impact on culture change for open scholarship.

DOI: 10.31222/osf.io/d7mwk

If successful, this collaborative effort will be open to additional open science organizations who are interesting in joining.

End of the year 2019

While Open Engineering Inc. has existed since 2016, it wasn’t until this year that the organization became officially recognized as a 501(c)(3) nonprofit and ramped up our fundraising efforts. This action was largely driven by the growth of the Engineering Archive and the need to meet the growing financial requirements of operating such a preprint server.

Our primary effort towards financial sustainability for the Engineering Archive was the creation of the Engineering Archive Membership Circle. The Membership Circle creates the opportunity for institutions, libraries, and other organizations to support the sustainability of the server through a $500 annual contribution. Since launching in September, 10 academic libraries have signed up to pledge their support.

More detail on the status of the Engineering Archive can be found on the year-end wrap-up post over at the engrXiv blog.

We are continuing to work through the development of The Journal of Open Engineering, where there are currently four articles submitted and available for peer-review. With new updates to the PubPub platform planned for 2020, we hope that the peer-review workflow will become more streamlined and friendly for authors and reviews alike.

With that, we wish a Happy New Year to all and hope that you will join us in our efforts to create greater, more equitable access to engineering scholarship in 2020.

Driven by access: opening up the world of engineering research

Access to our shared human knowledge is a basic human right. This is particularly true when public finding is used to generate that knowledge. However, for engineering scholarship, the results of engineering research are largely not publicly accessible ​(Piwowar et al., 2018)​. This may be due to a lacking culture of preprinting or open access in most engineering disciplines, or to a lack of support from traditional society and commercial engineering publishers.

The case for open access in engineering is particularly strong from both a societal and a social justice point of view ​(Fleischfresser, Niemeyer, & Berg, 2016)​. In particular, lack of access to engineering knowledge can further disadvantage those living precariously with limited access to education and insufficient resources with with to purchase access to engineering expertise ​(D. Berg, 2017)​.

This is where we see opportunity, in the expansion of the impact that engineering scholarship can have on the world. As engineering researchers, it is our obligation to support such efforts. We can push our institutions to further these efforts as well by, for example, incentivizing impact over commercialization ​(D. R. Berg & Niemeyer, 2018)​.

We hope that you agree with this vision and will help Open Engineering while we continue to push for “access for all” for engineering scholarship.

References

  1. Berg, D. (2017). Open in order to open engineering. Authorea. doi: 10.22541/au.151029608.80979987
  2. Berg, D. R., & Niemeyer, K. E. (2018). The case for openness in engineering research. F1000Research, 501. doi: 10.12688/f1000research.14593.2
  3. Fleischfresser, L., Niemeyer, K., & Berg, D. (2016). [Editorial] Open Publishing in Engineering. PubPub. doi: 10.21428/12302
  4. Piwowar, H., Priem, J., Larivière, V., Alperin, J. P., Matthias, L., Norlander, B., … Haustein, S. (2018). The state of OA: a large-scale analysis of the prevalence and impact of Open Access articles. PeerJ, e4375. doi: 10.7717/peerj.4375