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

Overview

10-year effort

OSI started in the Fall of 2014. Several full-group conferences were held in 2016 and 2017 to hear perspectives and develop recommendations. These recommendations are currently evolving into action plans on multiple fronts, including studies, spin-off projects, outreach programs, policy initiatives, partnerships and more. 

Stakeholder involvement

High-level participants from every scholarly communication stakeholder group are invited to be part of OSI. These participants have a wide variety of beliefs, expertise and experiences. Most are interested in working together to improve the scholarly communication ecosystem.

Global scope

Scholarly publishing reform is a global issue with global perspectives and impacts. Stakeholders representatives from around the world are part of this effort, with support from UNESCO and other global partners. Starting in 2018-19, OSI’s global engagement will begin to increase.

Expert Analysis

OSI brings together leading experts from around the world to talk about scholarly communication issues and solutions. No other group does this at such a high level and in so many different ways—from individual outreach to the OSI listserv, global conferences, workgroups, studies, and more. Our goal is to produce expert, workable solutions that can be implemented globally and in collaboration with other existing groups.

Valuable Resource

OSI monitors and reports on a wide variety of key issues and conversations in scholarly communication, from APCs to VORs. We also provide resource links and meeting opportunities. Coming soon, OSI also hopes to provide education and engagement programs, study funding, outreach tools for open programs and more. OSI is a valuable tool for keeping up-to-date on the open movement in scholarly communication.

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The Case for Cooperation

Working together is perhaps the single most important and unique feature of OSI. After all, who speaks for scholarly communication reform today? Is it the researchers (and if so, in what discipline or even institution)? Governments (which ones)? Universities or university libraries? Open access advocates? Publishers (new or old, big or small, subscription or open, north or south, scholarly societies or university presses)? Ask anyone from any of these groups what scholarly communication means and where it’s headed and you’ll hear plenty of ideas and opinions but no clear answers.

Indeed, if you stay in your bubble in scholarly communication you’re bound to be more misinformed than informed: You’ll believe that universal open access is just around the corner, that green repositories are on the cusp of success, that a global flip to APCs will fix all problems, that a myriad of small changes in the system are serving everyone’s needs just fine, and so on. There is no shortage of hope, which is great. But hope doesn’t make it so. Everyone acknowledges that the promise of open has enormous potential and people are pushing from many different directions to make this happen. But the reality is that the path to rapid, widely adopted and sustainable open solutions is strewn with obstacles. Creating a truly effective and sustainable future of open scholarship will require input and cooperation from the entire global ecosystem of research and scholarly communication—scientists, university administrators, non-university research institutions, libraries and library groups, repository managers, publishers, government policymakers, funders (private and government), educational policy groups and more, and from all parts of the world. The last 15 or so years of open access reform has raised our awareness of the open issue and the challenges it faces. But we are quite far from succeeding and no one wants to wait another 15-20 years before moving the ball another short distance down the field. The broad goals of open can be realized more quickly and effectively if all proponents of open work together—if we find common ground, embrace the big picture, collaborate and coordinate our efforts, and make it easier for institutions and governments to work together on rapid and sustainable open solutions. To this end, OSI’s approach involves not only discussing solutions that work across stakeholder groups and countries but also building a stronger foundational case for open that all stakeholders agree with and support.

Why is collaboration needed? What proof is there that collaboration will succeed, and what of criticisms that any effort like this is just co-opting or watering down existing open goals? For one, it’s clear to many people who have followed the changes happening in scholarly communication over the years that an incredible amount tension and uncertainty exists in the system. People want to know what to do and how, but they aren’t sure who to follow and why, who’s leading and who’s following, what the long-term implications of change will be for faculty and researchers (not to mention the difficulty of pushing change at a university), how much change needs to be made and how quickly, who will pay for this progress and how, and a whole slew of other critical questions that don’t have simple black and white answers or even a workable playbook for making change happen (if it was even clear what change was needed). Having a forum where these issues can be discussed across stakeholder groups is critical to making more rapid progress on this issue.

It’s also clear that no one actor can affect change in this very diverse and interconnected space. Only by working together will be able to achieve open goals. In addition, it has become increasingly clear to the OSI community that we need to work harder to ensure that what we’re doing is for the benefit of researchers first and foremost—that we involve more researchers in these conversations, listen to their concerns, and design solutions that work for their disciplines and institutions. This really isn’t being done anywhere on a global and interdisciplinary scale. A one-size-fits-all approach to open hasn’t worked over the past 15 years, and it won’t work over the next 15.