Pilot project

The Full Report on the Proof-of-Concept Pilot summarising results of the first KU pilot is now available for download. Click here to read it.

Pilot Collection

Knowledge Unlatched sought support from a minimum of 200 libraries from around the world in order to unlatch its Pilot Collection. 297 signed up by the deadline of 28 February 2014.

The Pilot Collection consists of 28 new books from 13 recognised scholarly publishers. Full details of the books included in the Pilot Collection are available here.

Watch this presentation outlining how the Pilot Collection worked.


Publishers are paid a pre-agreed fee in return for making the books available on a Creative Commons licence via OAPEN and HathiTrust as a fully downloadable PDF immediately upon publication.

If only 200 libraries had signed up for the Pilot Collection, the cost per-library of supporting the collection would have been $1680. This worked out to an average of $60 per title. With nearly 300 libraries participating, the cost was $1,120 (just under $43 per book) per library. To find out more about how the model works click here.

Knowledge Unlatched worked with LYRASIS, JISC Collections and the Max Planck Society to facilitate library sign up.

Pilot Goals

The Pilot is the first phase in establishing what we expect to be a financially sustainable route to Open Access for large numbers of scholarly books. It gave us the opportunity to work with research funding bodies, librarians, scholarly communities and publishers in order to fine-tune our model. In particular, we were seeking to identify:

  1. A sustainable approach to establishing Title Fees for academic monographs. This must be acceptable to publishers, libraries and funding bodies.
  1. A secure strategy for managing revenue flows across the Knowledge Unlatched library consortium. This must be sustainable and capable of operating efficiently in the long term.
  1. The basis on which publishers feel comfortable offering titles through Knowledge Unlatched.
  1. The operational practices that ensure benefits of the project are maximised for libraries.

We are also working with stakeholder groups and research communities to understand the implications of the Knowledge Unlatched model for the wider academic publishing ecosystem. This is a complex landscape that includes university administrators, faculties and post-graduate students, as well as research funders, libraries and publishers from around the world.

Developing a consortium that is flexible enough to accommodate all of these groups, identifying any unintended consequences that might be associated with such an Open Access model, and adjusting it accordingly will be key to the long-term success of the project.

In short, the Knowledge Unlatched Pilot seeks to answer the question: Is it possible to change the scholarly communications ecosystem for the better – for all?


If you would like more information about the project, or would like to get involved please contact us.