The Open Scholarship Initiative
Working together in partnership with UNESCO to improve the future of open

History

The Open Scholarship Initiative originated from the efforts of the Science Communication Institute (SCI), a US-based nonprofit. Between October 2014 and January 2015, SCI convened and moderated an online conversation between 120 open access stakeholders, including many thought leaders in open access, publishing, and scholarly communications. This conversation, which began as the “Open Science Initiative,” resulted in the recommendations below, as well as a post-discussion partnership with UNESCO to expand this effort globally as the Open Scholarship Initiative, broadening the focus both geographically and intellectually. For more details about the Open Science Initiative’s discussions and recommendations, see the group’s working paper at http://bit.ly/1DJwRLT

The problems
The solutions

THE SCHOLARLY PUBLISHING SYSTEM IS AT A CROSSROADS. There are a wide variety of stakeholder perspectives on the critical issues in scholarly publishing—everything from journal prices to copyright requirements, peer review, impact factors, publishing fraud, and more. The stakeholder community is divided over whose perspective is correct, and this division has led to the creation of a variety of solutions that don’t work for everyone, or even with other solutions. This uncoordinated, stakeholder-centric, patchwork approach is far from optimal, and is poised to create even more information inequity, particularly in the Global South.

CURRENTLY FAVORED APPROACHES AREN’T CREATING OPTIMAL OUTCOMES. Open access adoption rates have been slow, there is confusion and disagreement amongst stakeholders about what qualifies as OA (open vs. public access, CC-BY vs. copyright, and more), and the currently-favored pricing model in OA (the current direction toward more “author pays” solutions) may be harming access and publishing prospects in parts of the developing world. In the repository world, which is critical to the future of OA, programs that are intended to link together institutional storehouses of research information—programs like CHORUS and OpenAIRE—are not optimal because research institutions have widely differing methods for archiving their work, and these methods aren’t usually interoperable. The outputs from these repository domes also suffer because of subscription paywalls, a lack of centralized control to ensure institutional participation, the completeness quality of deposited information, and more.

KNOWLEDGE CREATION CONTINUES TO ACCELERATE. Knowledge creation—and of particular relevance, the continued growth of more and more new academic journals every year—continues to accelerate, which is exacerbating the knowledge fragmentation and access problem.

THE OSI WORKING GROUP AGREED UNANIMOUSLY THAT THE OPEN SCHOLARSHIP INITIATIVE WILL HAVE THESE TWO FOUNDATIONAL ELEMENTS:

10 YEARS OF HIGH-LEVEL ANNUAL MEETINGS. The OSI working group proposed organizing high level annual meetings between all key stakeholders, beginning in early 2016, to clarify the path forward for scholarly publishing. These stakeholders will meet annually for 10 years to incorporate feedback and fine-tune solutions. An annual meeting format creates a future where decision makers from all stakeholder groups can come together regularly to share perspectives, find common ground, make plans, and follow up on previous agreements.

FIND ANSWERS to key, unresolved questions in the scholarly publishing reform debate (see http://bit.ly/1DJwRLT for details). Finding answers to key questions in scholarly publishing lays the groundwork for broad agreement on the right reform path, and enables stakeholders to move away from entrenched positions.

A MINORITY OF THE OSI WORKING GROUP ALSO DECIDED TO SPIN OFF THIS NEW PROJECT, NOT RELATED TO THE OPEN SCHOLARSHIP INITIATIVE CONFERENCES:

INVESTIGATE CREATING THE WORLD’S FIRST ALL-SCHOLARSHIP REPOSITORY (ASR). An ASR could serve as a single repository for all the world’s research information. Such a repository enables a future where much more of the world’s research knowledge (from all sources) becomes not only accessible, but integrated and organized in ways that enhance participation and usability. As a result, more interdisciplinary research happens, more discovery happens, and improvement occurs in everything from public policy to funding, education, and beyond.