The Open Scholarship Initiative

About OSI

10-year effort

OSI annual conferences began in April 2016. Each conference is hosted on a different university campus but has the same overarching focus (with different touch points). Work and progress continues between meetings.

Stakeholder involvement

High-level delegates are invited from every facet of the scholarly publishing stakeholder universe. Their common connection is that they are all committed to working together to improve the current system.

Global scope

Scholarly publishing reform is a global issue with global impacts. Stakeholders from around the world are committed to working together on this effort, with support from UNESCO and other global partners.

Overview

What should the future of scholarly publishing look like? How about open access? Who should decide? Can journals become more affordable and accessible? Will journals continue to serve as the primary means of communicating research? Can institutional repositories work together more effectively to integrate the world’s knowledge? Finding the answers to these and other related questions is important for research growth, research funding, public education and policy development, global economic development, global information access and equity, and more. And there are many different stakeholder groups working to find the answers. But not together, and not until now.

The Open Scholarship Initiative (OSI) is an ambitious, global effort to establish high level dialogue and cooperation on these issues. OSI is manged by the National Science Communication Institute (nSCI) in long-term partnership with UNESCO (the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization). OSI brings together a diverse and high-level group of scholarly publishing decision makers from around the globe into a series of annual meetings that are thoughtfully designed and constructed so these leaders can personally share their ideas and perspectives and look for common ground and actionable solutions. Ideas generated at each meeting are refined throughout the year through a broadening circle of delegate voices, and can be formalized into decisions at annual meetings over the next 10 years, with the goal of ensuring that solutions are workable and widely adopted, and that new and remaining issues are continually reviewed and agreed-to solutions are fine-tuned.

Conference delegates who are being identified and invited to participate in these meetings are C-level representatives from key stakeholder groups in scholarly publishing around the world, representing governments, journal publishing, open access, universities and research institutions, faculty groups, scholarly societies, libraries, research funders, regulatory agencies, public policy groups, STEM education groups, journalism, and more. Around 225 such delegates committed to attend OSI2016, with the final attendance numbers dropping to about 195 due to last-minute schedule conflicts (as happens with a group of high-level delegates).

Identifying the problems and solutions

The Open Scholarship Initiative originated from the efforts of nSCI, a US-based nonprofit. Between October 2014 and January 2015, nSCI 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

OSI Working Group recommendations

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.