» Minimizing the collective action problem

“Thus, researchers need to modernize the way they do their scholarship, institutions need to modernize their infrastructure such that researchers are enabled to modernize their scholarship. These have now had more than 30 years for this modernization and neither of them have acted. At this point it is fair to assume, barring some major catastrophe forcing their hands, that such modernization is not going to magically appear within the next three decades, either. Funders, therefore, are in a position to incentivize this long overdue modernization which institutions and hence researchers have been too complacent or too reticent to tackle.

If, as I would tend to agree, we are faced with a collective action problem and the size of the collective is the major determinant for effective problem solving, then it is a short step to realize that funders are in a uniquely suited position to start solving this collective action problem. Conversely, then, it is only legitimate to question the motives of those who seek to make the collective action problem unnecessary difficult by advocating to target individual researchers or institutions. What could possibly be the benefit of making the collective action problem numerically more difficult to solve?”


Direct to Open

“Direct to Open harnesses collective action to support open access to excellent scholarship. Developed over two years with the generous support of the Arcadia Fund, in close collaboration with the library community, the model will:

Open access to all new MIT Press scholarly monographs and edited collections (~90 titles per year) from 2022 via recurring participation fees.
Provide participating libraries with term access to backlist/archives (~2,300 titles), which will otherwise remain gated. Participating libraries will receive access even if the model is not successful.
Cover partial direct costs for the publication of high-quality works that are also available for print purchase….”

Raising research quality will require collective action

” Institutions are committing to working together to determine how their cultural practices, such as emphasizing the importance of novelty, discovery and priority, undermine the value of replication, verification and transparency. That is the goal of the UK Reproducibility Network, which I co-founded earlier this year. It started as informal groups of researchers at individual institutions that met with representatives from funders and publishers (including Nature) who were open to discussions about how best to align open-science initiatives — reproducibility sections in grant applications and reporting checklists in article submissions, for example. Now institutions themselves are cooperating to consider larger changes, from training to hiring and promotion practices….

Our ten university members span the United Kingdom from Aberdeen to Surrey, and we expect that list to grow. Each will appoint a senior academic to focus on research quality and improvement. Figuring out which system-level changes are needed and how to make them happen will now be someone’s primary responsibility, not a volunteer activity. What changes might ensue? Earlier this year, the University of Bristol, where I work, made the use of data sharing and other open-research practices an explicit criterion for promotion….

But these cultural changes might falter. Culture eats strategy for breakfast — grand plans founder on the rocks of implicit values, beliefs and ways of working. Top-down initiatives from funders and publishers will fizzle out if they are not implemented by researchers, who review papers and grant proposals. Grass-roots efforts will flourish only if institutions recognize and reward researchers’ efforts.

Funders, publishers and bottom-up networks of researchers have all made strides. Institutions are, in many ways, the final piece of the jigsaw. Universities are already investing in cutting-edge technology and embarking on ambitious infrastructure programmes. Cultural change is just as essential to long-term success.”

Collaborative transition to open access publishing by scholarly societies | Molecular Biology of the Cell

Abstract:  For decades, universities, researchers, and libraries have sought a systemwide transition of scholarly publishing to open access (OA), but progress has been slow. There is now a potential for more rapid and impactful change, as new collaborative OA publishing models have taken shape. Cooperative publishing arrangements represent a viable path forward for society publishers to transition to OA as the default standard for disseminating research. The traditional article processing charge OA model has introduced sometimes unnavigable financial roadblocks, but cooperative arrangements premised on collective action principles can help to secure long-term stability and prevent the risk of free riding. Investment in cooperative arrangements does not require that cash-strapped libraries discover a new influx of money as their collection budgets continue to shrink, but rather that they purposefully redirect traditional subscription funds toward publishing support. These cooperative arrangements will require a two-way demonstration of trust: On one hand, libraries working together to provide assurances of sustained financial support, and on the other, societies’ willingness to experiment with discarding subscriptions. Organizations such as Society Publishers Coalition and Transitioning Society Publications to Open Access are committed to education about and further development of scalable and cooperative OA publishing models.



Library Futures: Championing the Right to Equitable Access to Knowledge

“Library Futures Institute is a nonprofit organization that champions the right to equitable access to knowledge. Our mission is to empower libraries to take control of their digital futures.

We enable collective action while building power through an advocacy organization. We respond to 21st century needs, operate at the speed of change, and level the playing field between publishers and the public….”

Library Futures: Championing the Right to Equitable Access to Knowledge

“Library Futures Institute is a nonprofit organization that champions the right to equitable access to knowledge. Our mission is to empower libraries to take control of their digital futures.

We enable collective action while building power through an advocacy organization. We respond to 21st century needs, operate at the speed of change, and level the playing field between publishers and the public….”

OCLC-LIBER Open Science Discussion on Research Integrity – Hanging Together

“What does research integrity mean in an ideal open science ecosystem and how can libraries contribute to heighten professional ethics and standards required by open science? The sixth session of the OCLC/LIBER Open Science Discussion series brought together a small group of engaged participants focusing on these questions….”

OCLC-LIBER Open Science Discussion on Metrics and Rewards – Hanging Together

“What is the role of metrics and rewards in an ideal open science ecosystem? What are the challenges in getting there? What would collective action look like? The fourth session of the OCLC/LIBER Open Science Discussion series, which brought together a group of participants from universities and research institutes across ten different countries, focused on these questions….”


An FAQ on the PLOS Community Action Publishing (CAP) program.

“In the case of PLOS Medicine and PLOS Biology, the community goal is to cover the costs of the journals (plus a 10% capped margin) by equitably distributing cost, rather than have individual authors pay the high APCs required to cover the cost highly selective publishing. Members of the collective receive the “private benefit” of publishing in both journals with no fees. Authors from non-member institutions are subject to “non-member fees” which increase considerably year-on-year to encourage participation in the collective….”

GitHub – FreeOurKnowledge/community: Place to discuss Project Free Our Knowledge (including campaign proposals, posted as separate Issues) and store project documents

“Academia functions like a ‘tragedy of the commons dilemma’ (or collective action problem) — the widespread adoption of open science practices could benefit everyone in the research community, but their adoption is impeded by incentive structures that reward sub-optimal research and publication practices at the individual level. Our platform functions much like Kickstarter, but for cultural change rather than products. Any researcher can propose a campaign calling for their peers to adopt a particular behaviour if and when there is a critical mass of support in their community to do so. Pledges remain inactive and anonymised until this time, allowing vulnerable individuals to signal their desire for positive culture change without risking their career in the process. Then — after the critical mass is met — all signatories are de-anonymised on the website and directed to carry out the action together, thus creating momentum for change and protecting one another’s interests through collective action. We envisage that over time, these campaigns will grow increasingly larger in size and scope, and eventually become a powerful driving force in aligning the academic system with the needs of research community and principles of science itself….”

Covid-19 Shows Scientific Journals Like Elsevier Need to Open Up – Bloomberg

“One big change brought on by Covid-19 is that virtually all the scientific research being produced about it is free to read. Anyone can access the many preliminary findings that scholars are posting on “preprint servers.” Data are shared openly via a multitude of different channels. Scientific journals that normally keep their articles behind formidable paywalls have been making an exception for new research about the virus, as well as much (if not all) older work relevant to it.

This response to a global pandemic is heartening and may well speed that pandemic to its end. But after that, what happens with scientific communication? Will everything go back behind the journal paywalls?



Well, no. Open-access advocates in academia have been pushing for decades to make more of their work publicly available and paywall-free, and in recent years they’ve been joined by the government agencies and large foundations that fund much scientific research. Covid-19 has accelerated this shift. I’m pretty sure there’s no going back. …”

Open Scholarship and the Need for Collective Action – Knowledge Exchange

“Following the report ‘Knowledge Exchange Approach to Open Scholarship’ and in line with the recommendations resulting from the workshop report Moving from Ambition to Reality, Knowledge Exchange developed a framework to articulate the changes occurring in scholarly communications: The Knowledge Exchange Open Scholarship Framework.

On the basis of this framework, we identified further work to understand the Economy of Open Scholarship as a priority and have worked on two interconnected activities dedicated to the Economy of Open Scholarship; one practical – Insights into the Economy of Open Scholarship and one conceptual – Open Scholarship and the need for Collective Action….

As many of the challenges in navigating the transition to Open Scholarship are economic, the focus of the book is on the economic arena. In addition, great attention is given to the incentives, actions and influences of meso-level actors: groups, communities or organisations such as universities, disciplines, scholarly societies or publishers because of their enormous impact on developing open scholarship. The authors analyse how economic models can be applied to scholarship and conclude that economic theory cannot fully explain nor prescribe how Open Scholarship can be achieved. The challenges to achieve Open Scholarship, such as gravitational hubs and the complex governance of common pool resources, are highlighted.

The overall conclusion of the book is that for a successful transition to Open Scholarship, collective action approaches and establishment of a supportive infrastructure are key….”

OA in the Open: Community Needs and Perspectives

Abstract:  The National Forum described here was proposed as a first step in surfacing community requirements and principles toward a collective open access (OA) collection development system. The Forum asked participants to envision a collective funding environment for libraries to contribute provisioning or sustaining funds to OA content providers. A critical component of this project was to bring together groups of interested and invested individuals with different priorities and perspectives and begin to build a community of engagement and dialogue. By analyzing focus group feedback and leveraging the insights and interactions of participants, this paper presents the challenges, opportunities, and potential next steps for building an OA collection development model and culture based on a community of collective action.