Information Today
Volume 19, Issue 10 November 2002
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European Collective Unveils Academic Publishing Initiative

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.

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