MIT Press Releases Mellon-Funded Report on Open Source Software


Mind The Gap: A Landscape Analysis of Open Source Publishing Tools and Platforms
Download from:
DOI: 10.21428/6bc8b38c.2e2f6c3f

Authors: John W Maxwell, Erik Hanson, Leena Desai, Carmen Tiampo, Kim O'Donnell, Avvai Ketheeswaran, Melody Sun, Emma Walter, Ellen Michelle, Simon Fraser University

The objective was to provide “a landscape analysis of open source publishing systems, suggest sustainability models that can be adopted to ensure that these systems fully support research communication and provide durable alternatives to complex and costly proprietary services.” 52 systems were included in the report, including such well-established entities like Manifold and Jupyter Notebooks, as well as less-visible entities, such as Vega and paged.js.

Individual entries about the 52 projects provide the reader with a description of the software, its functionality, its leadership, the development and data about its use (drawn from Github and Gitlab) over the lifetime of the project. The report notes that underlying themes about the projects had to do with sustainability, scale, collaboration, and ecosystem integration

Projects included range along a spectrum. “At one end were projects being developed transparently, under an open-source license and which kept their code public in a Github repository; however, no significant contributions from outside the core team were encouraged. At the other end of the spectrum were projects that put community accessibility and participation first and for which a good deal of effort is made to encourage new contributors. Most projects fall somewhere between the two poles…”

Facets of the report’s analysis include:

  • Journal publishing and book publishing
  • Centralized vs. Distributed models
  • Old projects and new projects
  • Functional Scope
  • Operational Details
  • Traditional functions, new capacities
  • Technological approaches and trends
  • Approaches to XML
  • Conversion and ingestion strategies
  • Workflow modeling and management
  • Innovating new possibilities

The 88-page report may be downloaded from:, but the on-going annotations made by readers of the report will only be found in the online version.