Working together to improve global access to research

Goals, Approach & Methods

Goals

The goals of OSI are:

  • to build a sustainable, robust framework for direct communication and cooperation among nations, universities, researchers, publishers, funding organizations, scholarly societies, libraries, policy makers, and other scholarly publishing stakeholders, in order to shape the future of scholarly communication, beginning with scholarly publishing and the issues that surround it,
  • to support a climate for finding common understanding and workable solutions, and
  • to help this stakeholder community move toward these solutions together.

The eventual outcomes of this effort will include:

  • Achieving scholarly communication improvement goals faster and on a more predictable trajectory by bringing all stakeholders to the same side of the table to work together toward their common interests (while continuing to work out their differences on tangential issues),
  • Creating multiple platforms for working on scholarly communication improvements together as a broad stakeholder community,
  • Increasing the efficiency and effectiveness of stakeholder efforts by facilitating the development of a common roadmap of goals, policies, and standards in scholarly communication, and
  • In the end, increasing the amount of research information available to the world and the number of people who can access this information.

 

Approach

OSI is a 10-year-long effort. Because the scholarly communication stakeholder community is coming at this issue from so many different directions, the first step in our journey has been to acknowledge and value where each stakeholder group is in the process. This stage of OSI took place during 2016 and 2017. The next two years, 2018 and 2019, will involve figuring out what course adjustments can be made to the system to continue to improve scholarly communication and what assistance this community can offer—new incentives, coordinated policies, collaboration efforts, formal partnerships, new studies, pilot products, expanded perceptions, and so on. Our hope is that by 2020 the OSI group will be fully engaged in significant reform efforts, fine-tuning these efforts until 2025

WORKGROUP DISCUSSIONS

2016-17

ACTION PLANS & ROLLOUT

2018-19

IMPACT & ADJUSTMENT

2020-25

No single actor in a multi-stakeholder system like this can enact system-wide change unilaterally; a mechanism for collaborative action needs to exist but it doesn’t currently exist in scholarly communication on a broad scale. Therefore, OSI has been designed to work on this change collaboratively and deliberatively, in a way that involves input from all stakeholders in the scholarly communications community, and always with an acute awareness that the new world of scholarly communication being designed needs to be accepted by the research community and be of benefit to this community, needs to work in every country, institution and field of study, and needs to be reliable and effective over the long term.

It is at these intersections of idealism and reality, of open knowledge and intellectual property, and of politics and policy that OSI’s most important work will be done—-determining the best balance point between embargoes and immediate release, designing data repositories that scientists actually want and will use, curbing the unintended consequences of publish or perish without dismissing the importance of publishing in academia, improving access to scholarship for underserved regions of the world without unintentionally making the access problem worse, and more.

Scholarly communication is changing and this change presents opportunities and challenges. Some of the change that is happening involves shaking up the current system to utilize publishing tools and approaches that may be better suited to an Internet-based information world. But not all current and needed changes fall into this category. Indeed, some of the most needed changes do not. The general guidelines for action as defined by the OSI2016 group are as follows:

  • This community needs a clear, coordinated action plan for improving open. Who are the actors, what are the mileposts, what are the likely impacts, and how do we measure success?
  • We need to be open to change at many levels, from reforming the communications culture inside academia, to examining our biases that publishing is a binary proposition involving either open or closed, subscription or APC-based, right or wrong.
  • Any widespread change is going to require a widespread effort.
  • These reforms need to take into account the needs and concerns of researchers and take great care to ensure that research is helped and not harmed.
  • These reforms need to recognize that authors are not a homogenous group with common interests or opinions, and that different disciplines have different needs and norms.

Methods

The two most important communication instruments OSI has been using in this process so far are:

  1. Listserv conversations. The OSI listserv is a robust workspace. Thousands of emails are exchanged every year, exploring a wide range of scholarly communication issues in depth. A number of topics get promoted for further consideration and possible pursuit as spin-off projects. A list of these topics and projects are noted in the 2017 summary report. The “conversations” section of this website displays the latest threads in the OSI listserv conversation and also provides a link to the listserv homepage (participation in this list is by invitation only but the contents of this list can be viewed publicly).
  2. Conference workgroups. During OSI2016 and OSI2017, conference workgroups focused on a wide variety of issues such as studies, peer review, impact factors, and information overload.  The papers produced by participants have provided the foundation for OSI’s action plans in 2018 and 2019—where this group should focus and what solutions should be pursued.

Starting in late 2017, Slack channels were introduced to provide a separate space for OSI participants to have more detailed conversations on listserv spin-off topics and work together on 2018-19 action plans. The OSI2018 meeting will focus on fine-tuning this action plan; regional meetings will also take place starting in 2018, focusing on issues of local/regional concern, as well as OSI’s proposed solutions to specific issues (just impact factors, for instance).