A collective of European universities
and publishers has announced the establishment of the FIGARO academic
publishing project. FIGARO will create a network of institutions
that provide e-publishing support to the European academic community.
It will reportedly investigate new business models for scholarly
publishing and will stimulate open access to the publications
that are produced and distributed within its infrastructure.
FIGARO plans to further develop its network to continue expansion
into a digital publishing platform. The project will support and
promote the development of such a platform by offering its participants
a technical infrastructure and a network organization strategy
that facilitates the entire digital publishing process. In this
way, participants will benefit from each other's technological,
organizational, and scientific knowledge, according to the announcement.
FIGARO's business model is based on a federative approach consisting
of a back office that supports the network of individual publishing
instances (front offices). According to the announcement, publishers
can profit from the network, which facilitates such things as
peer reviews, communication with authors, and the exchange of
publications. This will help them limit the costs without compromising
quality and will prevent them from having to surrender their identity.
Technical solutions that are featured in FIGARO include support
for standard document models expressed in XML and related authoring
tools; support for generic authentication and authorization methods;
the shared use of a Web-based work-flow steering engine; and support
for heterogeneous, distributed content management functions, such
as persistent pointing technologies and print-on-demand services.
While some of these components will be developed as part of the
FIGARO project work, most will be based on standard, mostly open
source Web technology. The bulk of the work in this area will
be concerned with integration rather than development.
FIGARO is the product of two publishing initiatives: Roquade,
a Dutch project, and German Academic Publishers (GAP). The name
FIGARO is an acronym for the Federated Initiative of GAP and Roquade.
The Information Society Directorate-General of the European Union
has granted a 1.4 million euro subsidy for the project, which
began in May 2002 and will continue until October 2004. FIGARO's
participants include universities in the Netherlands, Germany,
Sweden, Italy, and Belgium; various commercial publishing companies;
and SPARC. The project is coordinated through participants at
Utrecht University Library.
Source: FIGARO, Utrecht, Netherlands; http://www.figaro-europe.net.