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Session: Reimagining scholarly communication : http://sched.co/1kjPH0f
16 July, 16:30 - 17:30
Facilitator: Stuart Lawson (@lawsonstu)
Twitter hashtag: #OKFestSC
The current scholarly communication system, largely built around publication in academic journals, is seriously flawed - too much knowledge is locked away behind paywalls and only accessible to those who can afford it. The open access movement has made great strides in opening up the world’s knowledge by creating open access journals and repositories. Could we do even better, and reimagine scholarly communication from the ground up to create a new system, with both the infrastructure and content liberated from commercial interest and open to everyone? In this session we will discuss what is already being done to achieve this and think about concrete actions to make it a reality.
I believe that open access is a key part of building an open society. There is a danger that the narrative around open access will be subverted by major academic publishers, to hijack the open access agenda and keep scholarly communication within an exclusive, and expensive, system. We need to create a viable open alternative before this happens.
This session will be a participatory discussion. It will start with an opening statement (based on the session motivation and description) for five minutes, and then invite responses from the other attendees. If the audience is large we will split into smaller groups for the discussions. The role of the facilitator will then be to keep the discussion focussed and moving forward, and then wrap up at the end. Participants will be able to:
- learn about open access, the current academic publishing system, and open alternatives;
- make suggestions for new infrastructure and new ways of working and collaborating on academic knowledge;
- encourage the start of new collaborative ideas, introduce people to others working on similar problems.
There is momentum within the open community for getting projects on this issue off the ground, so the session could spark off ideas leading to new tools and community development. It fits in with the OKFestival mission of enabling change. The participatory nature of the session will keep it as inclusive as possible. It touches on many of the topics that are going to be covered at the Festival including those of other streams: not only open access but also open science, open research data, open source software, and building communities.
- Kathleen Fitzpatrick (2011) Planned obsolescence. New York University Press.
- Michael Nielsen (2012) Reinventing discovery. Princeton University Press.
## Participants: pre-event, to get in touch with each other (feel free to add your Twitter handle):
what could the technical infrastructure of a new system look like? look at tools – e.g. collaborative authoring tools like Authorea
AT THE FESTIVAL
## Participants - name, contact (if you want to leave it), number of attendees
## Notes from the session
Discussions tend to focus on open access, open science, transitioning current system to something better. This is about open knowledge and not building on current ways/publishing but going back to what tools and processes can be developed to help communicate knowledge. Away from discrete outputs and towards conversation. K Fitzpatrick. What scholarly comms should be about – conversation of ideas and communication of those ideas. Focus on those ideas and the process of communicating them. Text as “locus of conversation” - not units of currency. Don't just open what already exists.
Ideal system would not reinforce existing divisions but would be genuinely inclusive. Distribution of knowledge and ideas – no role for profit-making entities in any part of the process. All open and openly-licensed at every stage. Remove the profit motive for more equitable. Market not about knowledge for own sake or interests of scholars. Can learn from Linux and Wikipedia, FOSS software and community projects enabling participation – modularity, value of small contributions, open licences.
Split into groups of Knowledge, Society (biggest group), Tools for 30 mins. Not just existing tools and processes as that restricts imagination to frameworks that are current rather than new. Tool must come from deciding on process and what the needs of process are, not retro-fitting. Remember what you're doing it for, rather than jumping straight in with what you already know about
---notes from the groups---
What does the ideal scholarly comms tool need? Global collaboration. Low barrier needed for learning new software – ease of use or won't fit workflow. What features will convince researchers? Languages! American domination means the de facto language becomes English, but to collaborate inclusively forcing everyone into that is not helpful and restricts communication. Needs to encourage collaboration and sharing from those who naturally mistrust this and want to hold on to ideas for as long as possible.
Remove fear of consequences – theft, ridicule or embarrassment of making mistakes in front of others, bullying, issues of funding being tied to authorship. Can tool offer closed groups until group are ready for openness? Difference between scholarly and academic communication – communication between researchers working on same thing and communication beyond that. Create environment that facilitates new knowledge – can end up recycling existing knowledge and presenting it as your own. How do you handle attribution? Mass participation doesn't always create something new. Incentives for academic success don't align currently with sharing and open and doing something non-traditional. Social networking not necessary?
Yet another new platform to learn, wait to see if people adopt, discard. How to convince sceptics? Not just one tool as everyone's workflow is different and they need the tool that will fit with theirs rather than them having to adapt to it.
Edits to be agreed by community, credit to those who refine and not just those who originate. Versioning is important and noting what that version adds to the conversation (value). Metrics, scores, altmetrics to be integrated and aggregated. More than one number as Almetric is one big reductive number and doesn't let the people have power to choose the metrics relevant to their situation.
Press releases better way of communicating science than waiting for peer-reviewed articles? For CERN, maybe yes. What about more niche fields with less public interest or implications for policy? Not all fields are sexy. Need an entirely different way of doing science (research) that isn't about individual reward and credit and is about communicating ideas and sharing knowledge.
Not just about expert practitioner but real impact is about wider community, need to communicate with them.
SoftwareCarpentry good example of educating research community about e.g. version control. Is there a master list of what tools already exist? How would people know the list exists? Put it on Wikipedia! Let community find it and update it. People would then find it in search engines as Wikipedia comes top. Know demographic of researcher. Visibility of tools are key. Present to all these groups at professional organisations, conferences etc. Do some market research! Before you finish tool, not just before you market it. Publishers have huge budget to market their product, but open tools don't always. Openness can give you an edge, use crowd to scale – Wikipedia, non-profit, top 5, users dropping small amounts to fund it not big funders. ArXiv – universities chip in to fund. Can be sustainable if valued, without being profit making. Adoption and funding are really linked.
What are the parts of the research process itself that the tool can assist with?
Does PeerLibrary meet these needs?
Model of research process drawn by William Gunn not about creating knowledge but presenting outputs, says another member of the group. Many of the parts in that diagram could be seen as solo pursuits. William disagrees. There are other elements that plug into the model and it is a spiral.
Knowledge – different drivers for creating knowledge, different ways people can collaborate in digital. How to balance knowledge vs reputation in different fields. Computer science, natural sciences, social sciences, humanities, library science all represented in group and those aspects fit together differently in different disciplines. Not fast enough in digital world. Toxic mix currently.
Society – complicated. No solution. Dichotomy between authors & readers, conversation assumes split. Distinction between communication amongst scholars and public engagement. One or one of several axes or single thing. Expert is not always a professional. Public is not the same as lay or the same as interesting. Either or situations but people play different roles in different situations. Expert in one, public in another etc. Technically possible to take part doesn't mean heard/paid attention to. Different people need to be heard at different times. Who should be setting the agenda – scholar of thing or person who is actually impacted by thing? Communities are successful if they have successful reputation systems that show engagement and recognise expertise. Entirely subjective not absolute truth.
Reputation intrinsic part of scholarly comms. Necessary or not?
Tools – version control, forking, global scope, feedback loops, analysing how edits change over time, naturally picked up by researchers, protects vulnerable, works with global languages, maybe profit does have a role in funding baseline service or maybe users pay, how do people learn about it? Time and money needed to compete with commercial guys. Knowledge + more knowledge + relate ideas + theory > test theory > validate > output = writing and data > publication > discuss > iterate. Tools at every stage. Happy ecosystem.
Project presented: http://peerlibrary.org/
Mitar from PeerLibrary spoke briefly at the end. Reading papers focus. Open source, “open everything” tool. Important to observe situation and see how product is not ideal. Not just question of tool but how community accepts tool. Think more about discussions around this.
AFTER THE FESTIVAL
## What did you learn and/or make?
## How/what could you teach others?