Why open science is primarily a labour issue – Samuel Moore

“Underpinning all these approaches to assessment reform is the brutally competitive nature of marketised higher education and the fact that precarious and exploited labour props up so much of what the university does. To this extent, open science is primarily a labour issue, not an epistemological one, although it is rarely approached by policymakers in this way. Knowledge production does not benefit from precarity or poor working conditions, not least due to the way they turn researchers into individuals competing with one another at every turn for scarce resources. If open science is to have any meaning, then, it must be grounded in a politics that is emancipatory from capital and the problems of researchers being oriented around capital at every point….

This, I argue, is what research assessment reform should be based on: building the capacity to explore and imagine different ways of producing knowledge, not simply reworking incentives towards open publishing, etc. In many ways, this means leaving behind assessment and replacing it with capacity building (as we’ve argued for in a different context elsewhere) or something altogether detached from the assessment of individual ‘performance’….”

The French Presidency of the Council of the EU announced the creation of a task force on digital commons.

On 7 February, during the Building Europe’s Digital Sovereignty conference, the Minister for Europe and Foreign Affairs Jean-Yves Le Drian along with the Secretary of State of the Minister for Europe and Foreign Affairs Clément Beaune and the Secretary of State in charge of Digital Transition and Electronic Communications Cédric O announced the establishment of a new task force on digital commons, the latter described by the French Presidency of the Council of the European Union as “non-rivalrous and non-exclusive digital resources defined by shared production, maintenance and governance”.

As overarching goals of such an initiative, the French Presidency strives to enhance European and international cooperation to ultimately scale up existing national digital commons and open source software projects, as well as to raise awareness and promote open technologies in the EU- and Member States-level public sector and start building a governance framework to support digital commons through human and financial resources.

[…]

Development and Governance of FAIR Thresholds for a Data Federation

Abstract:  The FAIR (findable, accessible, interoperable, and re-usable) principles and practice recommendations provide high level guidance and recommendations that are not research-domain specific in nature. There remains a gap in practice at the data provider and domain scientist level demonstrating how the FAIR principles can be applied beyond a set of generalist guidelines to meet the needs of a specific domain community.

We present our insights developing FAIR thresholds in a domain specific context for self-governance by a community (agricultural research). ‘Minimum thresholds’ for FAIR data are required to align expectations for data delivered from providers’ distributed data stores through a community-governed federation (the Agricultural Research Federation, AgReFed).

Data providers were supported to make data holdings more FAIR. There was a range of different FAIR starting points, organisational goals, and end user needs, solutions, and capabilities. This informed the distilling of a set of FAIR criteria ranging from ‘Minimum thresholds’ to ‘Stretch targets’. These were operationalised through consensus into a framework for governance and implementation by the agricultural research domain community.

Improving the FAIR maturity of data took resourcing and incentive to do so, highlighting the challenge for data federations to generate value whilst reducing costs of participation. Our experience showed a role for supporting collective advocacy, relationship brokering, tailored support, and low-bar tooling access particularly across the areas of data structure, access and semantics that were challenging to domain researchers. Active democratic participation supported by a governance framework like AgReFed’s will ensure participants have a say in how federations can deliver individual and collective benefits for members.

How does open science ‘democratise’ and ‘collectivise’ research? – Samuel Moore

“Yet it isn’t clear what the relationship is between the greater sharing of research materials and the so-called democratisation at work in open science. What actually is democratising and collectivising about what HELIOS is trying to do?

It is important to ask this question because HELIOS is, by all accounts, a top-down initiative led by senior figures of research-intensive universities in the US. Despite the casual association between open science and collectivity, it appears that HELIOS is more a way for university leaders to coerce researchers into a cultural change, not something that is led by the research community at large. While changing tenure guidelines to prioritise publishing in open access journals, sharing FAIR data and releasing reusable open code may have some good outcomes, they are not themselves the basis for greater collective governance of science. Instead, these changes will provide an economic reason for researchers to adopt open science practices, a reason still based on individual progress within the academy….”

OPERAS’ Assembly of the Commons

In classical governance schemes, there is a separation of powers that leads funders and policy-making authorities to discuss and make decisions on their side with no or just indirect consultation of the community. We, at OPERAS, did not want that. The OPERAS AISBL governance scheme traverses the different layers of the organization, such as management, strategy, policy, and support. Furthermore, it establishes the levels of engagement of the different types of stakeholders in the development of the OPERAS Research Infrastructure. 

The Assembly of the Commons (AoC) is one of OPERAS’ governance bodies and it gathers all Ordinary Members of the infrastructure. It is convened at least once a year and the OPERAS’ second Assembly of the Commons took place virtually on May 11th, 2022 from 10:00 AM to 1:00 PM CET. It had a double objective of discussing the work completed in the Special Interest Groups over the course of the previous year and electing the two representatives of the OPERAS community: Vanessa Proudman and Mark Huskisson.

You can find more information about the meeting, the vision and the representatives below.

Participants of the Assembly of the Commons (May 11, 2022)

Pierre Mounier, OPERAS’ coordinator, opened the Assembly of the Commons by giving a short overview of the meaning of the AoC and its place in the governance of OPERAS.

As a multi-stakeholder organization, OPERAS is governed through several assemblies that represent the diversity of stakeholders engaged in their development. The Executive Assembly (EA) gathers the core members of OPERAS. These are the organizations that are more committed than others to the development of the infrastructure, and they are responsible for (1) organizing their national communities, (2) leading the Special Interest Groups, and (3) taking the decisions related to OPERAS on a monthly basis. The General Assembly (GA) gathers the national authorities such as the ministries and research communities and the supporting members. It convenes once a year and approves the budget and global strategy of the infrastructure. The Scientific Advisory Committee (SAC) advises us on scientific matters. The Coordination Team (OCT) manages the infrastructure on a daily basis.

The Assembly of the Commons (AoC) represents the community in its entirety and gathers all Ordinary Members. At the same time, the AoC is the addition of all the Special Interest Groups and their participants. We named the AoC as such in reference to the theory of Elinor Oström. According to her, goods are better governed collectively by a community than individually as private property. Those goods that are better governed as commons are some material goods such as forests, fisheries, and grazing lands, but also immaterial goods such as knowledge and its infrastructure. Therefore, we see the AoC as the assembly of all those people who take care of the tools, services, and platforms, and have the know-how that enables product sharing and knowledge dissemination.

After this highlight on the importance of the Commons for the infrastructure, the participants of the meeting had the opportunity to choose their delegates. The two candidates, Vanessa Proudman and Mark Huskisson, introduced themselves and engaged in a debate with the participants.

Vanessa Proudman is Director of SPARC Europe with 20 years of program management experience in facilitating access to knowledge in Europe and advocating for change to increase more equitable access to knowledge. 

Over the years her focus has been on Open Access, Open Science, Open Culture, and Open Education working with many leading universities and libraries worldwide. Research and knowledge exchange are her vehicles to inform, connect and advocate for change in these areas. Her focus has been to increase Open international, national and regional policy-making and practice in Higher Education in Europe. She has extensive experience in setting policy with a view to put this into action whilst connecting the specificities of policymaking with OS practitioners and vice versa to ensure effective OS implementation. Creating a more level-playing field in Europe to enable more equal opportunities to engage in Open Science and Open Education is also key to her work. By gaining an understanding of the needs of the research and OS support community through research activities and knowledge exchange, Vanessa Proudman will seek to ensure that an evidence-based approach is used to support the SSH community on its road to making open the default. 

Mark Huskisson is responsible for Business Development at the Public Knowledge Project (PKP), the developer and stewards of OJS, OMP, and OPS. PKP develops open-source software systems that manage the complete scholarly publishing workflow for journals, monographs, and preprints, and conducting scholarly communication research on questions of open access and open science.

Having worked in academic and scholarly publishing for thirty years, Mark Huskisson has developed and nurtured a collaborative and supportive network in commercial publishing houses, libraries, learned societies, and the rapidly growing scholarly communication technology ecosystem. Working at the nexus of the huge PKP community gives insight into the challenges and huge opportunities available to the open community if successful collaboration and sustainable pathways can be identified and secured. This new post offers a strategic benefit for learning and knowledge exchange between the OPERAS network and global OJS community.

During the debate, the candidates answered some questions from the community:

How do you see OPERAS in the open access landscape? (Pierre Mounier, OPERAS)

What is really unique about OPERAS is that it is a comprehensive and interconnected infrastructure community for the SSH, which does not exist in such a form for other subject domains. This is a great strength. OPERAS can and needs to inform the broader OA community and its decision-makers about the importance of the SSH domain so that we don’t dance to the tune of STEM and larger commercial publishers. There’s a lot of diversity and innovation in scholarly communications going on in this domain. And OPERAS can concretely demonstrate this to the whole community by presenting the work done by its various Special Interest Groups.

Vanessa Proudman

How do you see the European landscape? (Pierre Mounier, OPERAS)

There are a number of challenges across the continent and one is that there is not a single Europe in terms of access and ability to participate in academic publishing due to a number of barriers that the OPERAS Interest Groups are tackling. With large publishers dictating the narrative toward profit and focusing primarily on the wealthier, more powerful economies, the commercial STM sector has often defined models and development within the community despite the needs and demands – and often to the detriment – of SSH researchers and longform research outputs. So, to identify sustainable pathways in SSH across Europe, we need a more coordinated response to the OA challenge that is specific and tailored to research and publishing in the humanities and social sciences. And whilst there has been a huge development of open access and open science initiatives across the continent, they are often undertaken in national, regional, or commercial contexts. OPERAS offers a way to connect and coalesce the energy and drive of these initiatives, continually informed by the working groups (SIGs) to potential enormous effect.

Mark Huskisson

Regarding the multilingual dimensions of SSH, how might we defend and promote this dimension in OPERAS? (Olivier Bouin, RFIEA)

I have an international background and personally do not value any language over another. I believe that it is important to ensure that we share our knowledge in different languages particularly to embrace and respect the wide cultural and multilingual offering in Europe . In SPARC Europe, we created a tool that was translated into 16 languages by the community. Within OPERAS, perhaps we could create such multilingual resources, too.

Vanessa Proudman

What’s your vision about OA books in the global landscape? (Agata Morka, Sparc Europe)

I spent many years working with monographs in publishing and with leading libraries around the world and – as we transitioned from print to electronic media – the expereinces learned with Journals transitioning more easily and rapidly to digital influenced and determined the conversation around books. Even though the cases and contexts were not entirely analogous. And this has slowed the ability to foster and nurture a succesful and flourishing OA book ecosystem. One core challenge, which OPERAS members are solving and improving, is discovery and it is important for SSH in Europe and beyond that we share learning and solutions for the community and society as a whole. To bring a cohesive solution for different organizations that deal with OA books.

Mark Huskisson

The election counted with the participation of 23 organizations-member. Each organization voted once and anonymously. They could vote for both candidates, for one of them or for neither. With 83.33% and 54.17% of votes, respectively, Vanessa Proudman and Mark Huskisson became co-chairs of OPERAS’ Assembly of the Commons. Besides chairing the AoC during their 2-year mandate, the representatives shall also participate in the General Assembly once a year to represent the voice of the community. Otherwise, the General Assembly is composed of representatives of national councils and ministries of the European Countries and supporting members.

During the second part of the AoC, the leaders of the different Special Interest Groups presented the work done and some perspectives for the future.

  • Advocacy

Sona Arasteh (MWS), leader of this SIG, explained the meaning of advocacy, focusing on how it is a broader concept than lobbying. This SIG works as a kind of mediator, advocating for other SIGs. Currently, the group is advocating for the Tools and Platforms SIG.

  • Best Practices

The Best Practices SIG, led by Jadranka Stojanovski Zadar University), is currently working on a White Paper that will focus on the following topics: diamond journals, repositories altering scholarly publishing (preprints), research data in SSH, editorial and publishing policies, peer review, metadata quality, rights and licensing, research assessment, accessibility, and usability.

  • Common Standards and FAIR Principles

Iraklis Katsaloulisfocus (EKT), leader of this SIG along with Haris Georgiadis (EKT), explained that focusing on Common Standards & FAIR Principles is important as it offers a framework for collaboration, convergence, and integration towards enabling interoperability in SSH. Regarding future perspectives, this SIG intends to act as a bridge between the technical and procedural aspects of open science.

  • Multilingualism  

Delfim Leão (University of Coimbra), leader of the Multilingualism SIG, focused on some challenges regarding this topic: perceive multilingualism as a strong manifestation of bibliodiversity in SSH; avoid the risk of turning English, broadly used as a lingua franca, into lingua unica in terms of scientific and scholarly communication; enhance balanced multilingualism in innovative solutions. On the horizon, this SIG plans to achieve a full design and feasibility study to support the development of a translation service for OPERAS.

  • Open Access books Network

OABN is a new OPERAS SIG coordinated by Agata Morka (Sparc Europe), Lucy Barnes (Open Book Publishers), and Tom Mosterd (OAPEN/DOAB). The SIG advocates for open access book publishing, collates news, views, and developments specifically relevant to OA books, and connects a global community in the form of blogs, events, workshops, and other activities.

  • Open Access Business Models

 Graham Stones (Jisc) and Frank Manista (Jsic) lead this SIG that is currently working on focusing on collaborative models in OA book publishing. The previous White Paper (2021) presented an initial analysis and early observations of the study. The next step is to produce an in-depth analysis (a new version of the White Paper). Future questions to be explored include a better understanding of the publishers who do not take part in collaborative funding models and identifying the recommendations for OPERAS and other stakeholders.

  • Tools and Platforms

Formerly called Tools Research and Development, this SIG is coordinated by Céline Bartonat (CNRS) and Arnauld Gingold (CNRS). The SIG has focused on defining tools according to their functions, users, and nature. It deals with challenging issues such as a variety of functions and usage, the diversity of contexts and users, and its dynamic and chaotic environment.

Following this presentation, the participants joined breakout sessions for each of the Special Interest Groups.


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Research Fellow (COPIM) 0.5 FTE, Fixed Term 01-08-2022 until 31-04-2023 | jobs.ac.uk

Coventry University is seeking to appoint a Research Fellow within the Centre for Postdigital Cultures, Faculty of Arts and Humanities to support the Community-led Open Publication Infrastructures for Monographs (COPIM) project.

The Centre for Postdigital Cultures (CPC), builds on the strong and distinctive track-record of scholars at Coventry University encompassing a range of disciplines in the arts and humanities. Led by Professor Gary Hall, the CPC explores how innovations in postdigital cultures can enable 21st century society to respond to the challenges it faces in relation to the digital at a global, national and local level.

COPIM is a strategic international partnership led by the Centre for Postdigital Cultures consisting of world-class universities, presses, libraries and infrastructure providers. The project addresses the key technological, structural, and organisational hurdles—around funding, production, dissemination, discovery, reuse, and archiving—that are standing in the way of the wider adoption and impact of open access (OA) books. COPIM will realign OA book publishing away from competing commercial service providers to a more horizontal and cooperative knowledge-sharing approach.

A Research Fellow is required to support the project’s PIs in conducting research on (best practices for) the governance of academic presses and collectively managed infrastructures. We are looking for an Open Access specialist with expert knowledge of academic book publishing processes and current developments in digital publishing. The Research Fellow will conduct research on best practices for governing collaborative community-based book publishing projects of various scales. They will also assist in the creation of a model for the long-term management of consortial library funding programs, including official policies and procedures for self-governance and administrative management of the infrastructure. In addition to that they will assist in the organisation of workshops and events to promote the project’s research and outputs.

Job: Research Fellow – COPIM | Centre for Postdigital Cultures, Coventry University

Research Fellow (COPIM), 0.5 FTE (Fixed Term 01-08-2022 until 31-04-2023)

Coventry University is seeking to appoint a Research Fellow within the Centre for Postdigital Cultures, Faculty of Arts and Humanities to support the Community-led Open Publication Infrastructures for Monographs (COPIM) project.

The Centre for Postdigital Cultures (CPC), builds on the strong and distinctive track-record of scholars at Coventry University encompassing a range of disciplines in the arts and humanities. Led by Professor Gary Hall, the CPC explores how innovations in postdigital cultures can enable 21st century society to respond to the challenges it faces in relation to the digital at a global, national and local level.

COPIM is a strategic international partnership led by the Centre for Postdigital Cultures consisting of world-class universities, presses, libraries and infrastructure providers. The project addresses the key technological, structural, and organisational hurdles—around funding, production, dissemination, discovery, reuse, and archiving—that are standing in the way of the wider adoption and impact of open access (OA) books. COPIM will realign OA book publishing away from competing commercial service providers to a more horizontal and cooperative knowledge-sharing approach.

A Research Fellow is required to support the project’s PIs in conducting research on (best practices for) the governance of academic presses and collectively managed infrastructures. We are looking for an Open Access specialist with expert knowledge of academic book publishing processes and current developments in digital publishing. The Research Fellow will conduct research on best practices for governing collaborative community-based book publishing projects of various scales. They will also assist in the creation of a model for the long-term management of consortial library funding programs, including official policies and procedures for self-governance and administrative management of the infrastructure. In addition to that they will assist in the organisation of workshops and events to promote the project’s research and outputs.

Evolving our Governance: Motivations, journey and lessons learnt

“The structures and processes governing an organization are critical for ensuring the organization acts by its values and puts its beliefs into practice. We [IOI] outline our recent governance changes and learnings to be more transparent and share our experiences with others on a similar path….”

Why DORA’s Governance Is Changing | DORA

DORA challenges academic institutions, funding organizations, and scholarly societies to include a broader representation of researchers in the design of responsible research assessment policies and practices. We apply this same standard to our organization, and we want to do our utmost to address the long-standing structural inequalities that limit participation and success in academia.

Over the past 18 months, DORA has reviewed our operational structure to see how we can better live our values as an organization. While we have global aspirations to accelerate research assessment reform, our governance effectively limited participation in the Steering Committee to representatives from organizations in Europe and North America. Although our Advisory Board had representation from every continent and provided a global perspective, this dual committee structure did not embody the aspirations for equity that we wish to see incorporated into responsible research assessment. The DORA Steering Committee and Advisory Board therefore worked collaboratively—through multiple rounds of discussion, feedback and refinements—to develop a new governance set-up.  The work was informed by examples drawn from the wider scholarly communications community. We are particularly grateful to Invest in Open Infrastructure and Code for Science & Society for sharing their work on developing anti-racist governance.

EOSC activities update and UK engagement – Research

“The European Open Science Cloud (EOSC) is a European Commission (EC) initiative to support the development of open science and the digital transformation of research in Europe and further afield. Now in its implementation phase, it aims to develop a “web” of FAIR data and services, providing a multi-disciplinary environment where researchers can publish, find and re-use data, tools and services. The EOSC is complementary to UK efforts to define and adopt open science policies and practices, and the UK contributes to development of the EOSC through participation in implementation projects and in the EOSC Association, a legal entity established to govern the European Open Science Cloud.

As part of its Tech 2 Tech series, Jisc held an EOSC webinar in March 2021 which helped to confirm strong interest in the EOSC across the UK research community. Another Jisc webinar about EOSC will be held on 15 December. This blog provides an update on the numerous activities which have been taking place as part of the ongoing development of the EOSC, and UK engagement with them….

What is the relationship between legal form, governance, and ethics? | Martin Paul Eve | Professor of Literature, Technology and Publishing

“In the world of OA publishing, there have been further (not-so)shock waves reverberating this week as Knowledge Unlatched was sold to Wiley. One of the questions this raises is: how was it possible for this sale to go through and what could have been done to prevent it?

One of the first points to raise, and one that I have already made on Twitter, is that Knowledge Unlatched had to take a corporate form that protected its founder’s investment. Now, whether it’s what I would have done is a different matter, but it nonetheless takes a lot of guts to stake a huge amount (or, even, all) of your personal pension on an idea, which is what Frances Pinter did. But if you need the money back, you have to be able to sell the asset. So the fact that KU didn’t attract the not-for-profit investment affected the choice of corporate form.

What does being a charity or community interest company actually mean, though? It means, first, that your organization has an eleemosynary purpose. That is, it must be operated for the public benefit. Education, for instance, is a charitable object. It doesn’t even, in UK law, though, have to be education for everyone (the general public). Private schools can be (and often are) charities, despite only providing education to the subset of the “general public” who pay them. Hence, academic publishing can be a charitable purpose, even if it’s not openly accessible.

Second, it means that your organization is subject to certain types of financial control, but also benefit. In the UK, charities that raise money in fulfillment of their charitable purposes are not subject to corporation tax (though they are subject to VAT, under specific circumstances, and also to other taxes). They can also be converted only to organizations that share commensurate charitable objects. OLH, for instance, can merge with Birkbeck, University of London, because they share the charitable purposes of education for the public benefit.

Third, it also means that you will probably struggle for money. Charities are not allowed just to rake in tonnes and tonnes of surplus without question. They have to operate somewhat prudently. They also don’t have the mega-bucks of the big for-profit players, which means that they can usually be out-competed by these entities, which could, to be frank, starve the not-for-profits out, Uber-style, if they wanted.”

Collective Governance: an Update from The Open Book Collective Work Package · COPIM

“How should a collective be governed? This was the question that punctum books’ Director Eileen Joy and I took the lead in addressing, in collaboration with our COPIM colleagues and a range of workshop participants. The terms of the question seem almost contradictory: a ‘collective’ implies equity, collegiality, co-operation and a lack of organized hierarchy, whilst ‘governed’ suggests top-down management structures, or the imposition of rules and regulations by a select group over a larger majority. Obviously, the latter model would not be in line with the values of a project we are calling the Open Book Collective – i.e., a consortium that brings together publishers, librarians and other stakeholders in the future of open access monographs via a platform that catalogues, distributes and sustains OA books – yet at the same time, we needed to find a way that the different groups of stakeholders could be effectively organized to work together and get the most out of the platform in a mutually beneficial arrangement. For the purposes of the platform we are building, that means publishers, librarians, scholars, researchers, universities, infrastructure providers, authors, readers and more. The platform needs to respond to a wide range of interests, needs and requirements, even if all of us were committed to the overarching values of sustainable Open Access publishing for monographs….”

Collective Governance: an Update from The Open Book Collective Work Package · COPIM

How should a collective be governed? This was the question that punctum books’ Director Eileen Joy and I took the lead in addressing, in collaboration with our COPIM colleagues and a range of workshop participants. The terms of the question seem almost contradictory: a ‘collective’ implies equity, collegiality, co-operation and a lack of organized hierarchy, whilst ‘governed’ suggests top-down management structures, or the imposition of rules and regulations by a select group over a larger majority. Obviously, the latter model would not be in line with the values of a project we are calling the Open Book Collective – i.e., a consortium that brings together publishers, librarians and other stakeholders in the future of open access monographs via a platform that catalogues, distributes and sustains OA books – yet at the same time, we needed to find a way that the different groups of stakeholders could be effectively organized to work together and get the most out of the platform in a mutually beneficial arrangement. For the purposes of the platform we are building, that means publishers, librarians, scholars, researchers, universities, infrastructure providers, authors, readers and more. The platform needs to respond to a wide range of interests, needs and requirements, even if all of us were committed to the overarching values of sustainable Open Access publishing for monographs.

Council agrees on a negotiating mandate on the Data Governance Act

“Both the EP and Council texts contain amendments concerning the role of Open Access Common resources. In response to the initial DGA consultation, we submitted feedback to the Commission where we highlighted the fundamental role played by these resources in the overall data ecosystem. To safeguard this key function, it is important that Open Access Commons resources are not negatively affected by the DGA.

The Parliament’s text contains an addition in recital 37a stipulating that the provisions established by the DGA are without prejudice to the ability of non-profit organizations to make data and content available to the public under open licenses. This amendment would clearly signal that Open Access Common resources fall outside the scope of the DGA. As such, it would recognize their key role in today’s digital ecosystem.

The Council text includes a new definition of data intermediaries stipulating that only for-profit services fall into this category. If included in the final compromise, this addition would ensure that existing Open Access Resources, like Wikipedia or Europeana – which are generally recognized as not-for-profit – are not subject to the requirements that the DGA will impose on intermediaries.

Taken together, these two modifications would ensure that Open Access Commons resources are not subject to additional requirements that could endanger their modus operandi. To safeguard their position in the DGA and increase legal clarity, both Council’s and Parliament’s contributions therefore need to be included in the final text….”