Download 2017 Report
The first OSI conference was held in April 2016 (OSI2016). The goal of OSI2016 and the conversations leading up to it was to thoroughly explore the scholarly communication terrain, expose a wide variety of perspectives, and begin to daylight possible common interests.
Twelve workgroups at OSI2016 exploring such topics as what is publishing, what is open, and what are the impacts and the moral dimensions of open, developed important and detailed recommendations which are published on the OSI website. A summary of these recommendations includes that OSI should:
- Develop partnership agreements to work together to change the culture of communication inside academia (and as part of this effort, clarify messaging with regard to the benefits and impacts of open).
- Lay the groundwork for promotion and tenure reform (a framework agreement with stakeholder partners to moderate the influence of journal publishing and make evaluation more transparent).
- Pilot new spectrum measures for “open” and impact (see the reports from the “Open Impacts” and “What is Open?” workgroups). Also assess the routes by which such measures might come into common use and the lessons to be learned from previous attempts that have not been taken up.
- Develop and recommend new tools to replace the journal impact factor.
- Fund studies or pilots that will help:
- Identify which publishing services can/should be better handled by others (disaggregated).
- Assemble and supplement as needed an evidence base to better inform our policies regarding embargoes.
- Develop a stronger underpinning (economic modeling?) for the discussion surrounding the idea of pushing a global flip to open using APCs (e.g., how might this affect access in the global south?).
- Identify the economic impacts of open.
- Get a better understanding of how the system works now, and then identify scholarly publishing standards, norms, best practices, exit strategies, incentive systems, and a future ideal.
- Identify which scholarly publishing stakeholders can work together on these and other efforts and how (multiple stakeholders require a convening power).
- Develop new funding models such as a venture fund that can allow more support for joint efforts, and/or improve the flexibility of library budgets (e.g., by examining the efficiency of “big deals”).
- Propose radical new repository interoperability and infrastructure solutions.
- Develop a broader and clearer description of peer review that takes into account the different needs for different stages.
The delegates at OSI2017, which ran from April 18-21, 2017 (and whose deliberative process has continued throughout 2017), started looking for solutions to OSI2016 issues and issues that evolved out of OSI2016. The solutions coming out of OSI2017 so far include:
- Culture of communication in academia: We need to clarify the message about open and identify what open is and is not.
- Funding: There is no single model of open that works for all communities everywhere. Stop pursuing one size fits all solutions.
- Studies: There are many gaps in our understanding of scholarly communication, from the global flip to embargos to citation advantages, the economic benefits of open, and more.
- HSS & Science: Disciplines need to develop their own solutions, but we should also promote areas of mutual interest and benefit.
- Impact factors: Get behind reform efforts based on what’s working, what’s not, and what’s missing.
- Open IP: Work with WIPO to establish new global standards for open IP and create IP literacy materials for the research community.
- Peer review: Work as a community to develop new global standards for journals. Also study the effectiveness of different models and support the community as it experiments.
- Institutional repositories: Map the current IR network. Then convene an international conversation to ask what problems we’re trying to solve.
- Rogue solutions: Take a stand against Sci-Hub types of solutions that violate copyright laws and that are off the open spectrum, while also supporting new and entrepreneurial approaches to open.
- Standards: Promote and encourage the entire open spectrum instead of simply open access, which is just one endpoint on this spectrum. Work toward standardization across many other issues and questions in scholarly communication as well.
- Promotion & tenure reform: Research current practices to develop a higher level understanding of this issue. Also engage universities and scholarly societies in this conversation to encourage new advancement pathways that include more use of open.
- Underserved: Encourage more openness in the global south universities and public sector institutions, and also work to better index southern research (and address other concerns about standards, p&t and more).
Stakeholder meetings also happened at OSI2017 and helped focus this group’s attention on what it can do together to advance the cause of open. While workgroup conversations focused on issues, stakeholder groups focused on relationships, and it’s these relationships that will be at the center of OSI’s reform efforts going forward:
- Infrastructure: Push for more global standards, integration, and global implementation.
- Journal editors: Improve global journal standards through mentoring and networking, reduce the influence of impact factors, and improve indexing
- Libraries: Support, engage and/or collaborate on actions that continue to build out the framework, connect resources, and improve global capacity for open.
- Open knowledge groups: Reduce the jargon, deliver more content to communities who need it, and establish financial sustainability for a free-free environment.
- Commercial publishers: Improve the ability of OSI to engage in this issue.
- Research universities: Think critically and creatively about the development of programs and platforms that explore open in ways that meet the needs of our scholars. Support innovation and experimentation along these lines from many different stakeholders.
- Scholarly communication experts: Get more input and involvement from researchers, support more author choice, establish better standards, and encourage a “fellows” program where we can get out of our silos and experience firsthand what’s involved at a library, at a publisher, and so on.
- Scholarly societies: Educate constituencies on the benefits of open, explore consolidation and other ways to increase efficiencies, and explore the redistribution of funds to better support open.
If we map OSI2016 and OSI2017 recommendations on the basis of how “connected” they are (how often the challenges addressed by one OSI workgroup are described as being essential by another OSI workgroup), two topics emerge as much more important than others: the need for more studies, and the need to reform the culture of communication in academia.
If we also examine the connectedness of specific tools and processes being recommended—more meetings, more collaboration, outreach efforts and so on—it’s clear that the key recommendations are that we need more information, we need to have more coordination and collaboration in this community, and we need to do a better job with open outreach and advocacy.
Combining these insights, as the OSI group moves forward in 2017 and 2018 our priority will be to address the most prominent and affordable topics first using the most recommended tools. Since OSI doesn’t have a large enough budget at present to conduct studies, we will instead focus first on creating outreach, marketing and advocacy efforts to help change the culture of communication in academia and also on building coordination and collaboration efforts, a resource base, and so on for this topic, moving to other topics this year as time and funding permit.
We’ve already set up the website and listserv for this effort, RScomm.net (standing for research and scholarly communication network). The site will go live on January 1, 2018 and feature a wide variety of resources for the community, including open resources and definitions, OSI project details, a job board, community board and more. This will be the only resource focusing on promoting the entire open spectrum instead of just open access.
As OSI attracts more resources in the future and builds a resume of accomplishment, we can fund studies, develop new tools, work together on standards, support pilots and so on, geared first toward the central issues identified by OSI2016 and OSI2017 participants. Other approaches such as high-level meetings will come over time, as will a focus on issues such as information underload, but for now, OSI’s priorities will be to address the highest needs first with the most recommended solutions.
As these plans roll out, they will build on the common perspective OSI participants have developed over the past two meetings:
- Open isn’t free. The focus of open cannot be only about cost-savings. Open is going to cost money—the jury is still out on exactly how much.
- Open isn’t easy. Achieving “true” open access can be complicated. The messaging and terminology in this space is not clear, and the solutions are not always inclusive—what works for some may not work for others. OSI’s approach is to embrace a broad approach to open, value all perspectives, and help provide a focal point for working together as a global community.
- Publishing is critical. Without publishing, there is no modern, reliable scientific record. But the current system of publishing is expensive, complex, and changing rapidly.
- We’re on the right track. OSI isn’t going to be able to tackle this issue by itself, but many delegates think OSI serves an important and useful purpose nonetheless—that OSI has potential and that the approach we’re taking is exactly on the right track.
- We’re more alike than unalike. There are wide differences of opinion in this community but there is also significant overlap in our perspectives.
- Convergent needs are everywhere. Common needs are everywhere in this community—including the need for visibility, public engagement, preservation, and interdisciplinarity.
- We need more information. Despite the enormous expertise in this group, there are significant gaps in our understanding (and in the broader community’s understanding) of many key issues in scholarly communication. More study is clearly needed.
- Accountability. We all have a stake in the outcome.
- Trust. This conversation needs trust to move forward. There is a lot of mistrust in the system—not generally inside OSI, which is a valuable opportunity to speak across the aisle—but in the larger scholcomm system which has been so polarized for so long.
- OSI can help. OSI can help advance the cause of open in a wide variety of ways, including by promoting more inclusive dialogue amongst all stakeholders from all regions of the world, creating new resources for the open community, designing new open outreach materials tailored to specific audiences, funding studies to help fill in our gaps in understanding (and there are many), developing a better understanding of researcher needs and incentives, helping to identify best practices, and improving collaboration and partnerships in this space.
In addition to this emphasis, OSI participants have recommended taking a closer look at a handful of topics. Small discussion groups peeled off during 2017 to work on these:
- Cash incentives to publish: What are the cash incentives to publish in academia? There is anecdotal evidence from some parts of the world that this is a significant and corrosive phenomenon.
- Publisher profit margins: The profit margins of commercial publishers have long been cited in debates about scholarly communication reform. Facts, however, are in short supply. A group of industry leaders and analysts is willing to pull together an authoritative on this topic.
- Open protocols: Open study protocols is an important and under-researched area. There are a few open protocol sites but none for major clinical work. What are the challenges? Is this a solvable problem?
- Blacklist: Should a new blacklist be developed? A whitelist? Some other solution? Various ideas have been discussed at length both on and off list and in a side group but a final decision hasn’t been reached yet.
- APCgrabber.com: A website that pulls in data on APCs for easy comparison or where publishers can self-post pricing info (granted there would be lots of caveats) would be a valuable resource for this community. This idea preceded the blacklist discussion—we wouldn’t want to create a tool that makes it easier for fraud dealers to peddle their wares.
- Open impacts: What is the true economic impact of open? How can we find out? Even citation advantage studies are flawed. The answers may be out there, or we may need to commission studies to find out.
- iTunes model: Would an iTunes model work for scholarly journals? Would providing a-la-carte access to journal articles at 99 cents apiece be attractive to scholars and publishers?
Going forward, in the Spring of 2018, OSI leaders will meet to discuss OSI’s 2017-19 action plans in detail and also map out the agenda for OSI’s regional and interest-specific meetings that will happen in 2018 and 2019. These regional meetings may also have a regional and/or focus (for instance, a meeting in China is likely to take up issues of particular importance to researchers in China and then weave these concerns and solutions into the broader global agenda). Several such meetings are currently being considered.