The Invisible Workload of Open Research · Journal of Trial & Error

Abstract:  It is acknowledged that conducting open research requires additional time and effort compared to conducting ‘closed’ research. However, this additional work is often discussed only in abstract terms, a discourse which ignores the practicalities of how researchers are expected to find the time to engage with these practices in the context of their broader role as multifaceted academics. In the context of a sector that is blighted by stress, burnout, untenable workloads, and hyper-competitive pressures to produce, there is a clear danger that additional expectations to engage in open practices add to the workload burden and increase pressure on academics even further. In this article, the theories of academic capitalism and workload creep are used to explore how workload models currently exploit researchers by mismeasuring academic labour. The specific increase in workload resulting from open practices and associated administration is then outlined, including via the cumulative effects of administrative burden. It is argued that there is a high chance that without intervention, increased expectations to engage in open research practices may lead to unacceptable increases in demands on academics. Finally, the individual and systematic responsibilities to mitigate this are discussed.

Open Access policy at the ILO: The International Labour Organization goes Open Access

“The International Labour Organization (ILO) has implemented an Open Access policy that will make the use of all its knowledge products easier.

The launch of the ILO Open Access policy supports the fundamental ethic that results of publicly funded research or work should be made available to the public to use, with the goal of increasing accessibility, visibility and impact.

As of 3 May 2023, all new ILO knowledge products will be freely available for use or reuse without needing to request permission – as long as ILO is cited as the source of material.

The policy covers all materials published or made available by ILO ranging from reports and publications to videos and datasets.”

Quality research needs good working conditions | Nature Human Behaviour

“Across disciplines, research quality benefits from transparency and openness, as well as efforts to replicate and reproduce. In recent years there has been a surge in open scholarship thanks to efforts towards promoting robust research grounded in the principles of good research practice, sparked primarily by individuals and grassroots approaches. Yet this movement is up against an academic structure with a high proportion of short-term contracts, precarious working conditions, misaligned incentives and unpaid labour, all of which pose barriers to high-quality research….

In the ‘publish-or-perish’ regime, it does not pay to take the time to replicate one’s work or to make data, code and other materials openly available, Resources are often wasted on duplication costs in subsequent projects, and theoretical progress is hindered. Providing robust results, conducting replications and making materials openly available should be actions through which researchers successfully obtain permanent positions8. Because tasks such as providing FAIR data (that is, data that meet findability, accessibility, interoperability and reusability criteria), making materials available for reuse and carrying out replication projects should be carried out continuously, we advocate dedicating permanent positions to open scholarship officers who work on these tasks….”

3 Hypotheses for Open Workers | Rayya El Zein | Feb 3, 2023

“…At CS&S, we’re exploring where open has and hasn’t delivered on promises of more access, transparency, and equity. As we do so, we contend that understandings about open access, community governance, and freedom to (re)use need to be critically revisited and refined. Here we outline three hypotheses to guide an assessment of the central values of open work: 1. Open access to governance.  Open access to code, data, and research is not enough. Widening access must include pathways to stewardship and ownership, not simply entry or use. The incorporation of open source within for-profit structures is showing us that wider access has more often facilitated better extraction of data from more users than it has delivered democratization of knowledge or tools. Foregrounding pathways to stewardship and ownership for tech users will shift the ways in which underrepresented communities can engage, leading not only to different representation in positions of power, but also, potentially, different forms of power. Which is why more specificity when we ask, open access to what? is just the beginning. 2. Develop multi-polar power. “Decentralization” is not enough. The push for decentralization without a concurrent proposal for alternative structures of power masks existing hierarchies and exclusions. Building on the first hypothesis regarding open pathways to governance, advocacy for open infrastructure must be decoupled from blanket disavowals of power. Decentralized networks also host and harbor power. The question is: what forms of it are we interested in developing?…”

 Reflections on research assessment #1: Samuel Moore on ”Research assessment in the university without condition” – DARIAH Open

Is social sciences and humanities scholarship well served by the current and nascent academic reward mechanisms? And if not, where our options and power lie to change this for the better? Recognized as crucial for the future well-being and flourishing of humanistic scholarship, such questions have been repeatedly raised and discussed on DARIAH Open both in opinion pieces, in declaring commitments or policy reflections. In support of the ongoing European research assessment reform, we are extending this ongoing thread of discussion and invite expert perspectives from the social sciences and humanities fields to further explore the issues and opportunities our research domain face in the brave new world of research assessment. We hope in this way to spark a discussion in the arts and humanities on what we can hope to gain, and what opportunities we have to move forward.

In the first post of the series, Dr. Samuel Moore, Scholarly Communication Specialist at Cambridge University Library, and Research Associate at Homerton College, Cambridge invites us to take a step back from the actual performance indicators and revisit the research assessment discourse in the contrasting lights of the realities of the academic job market versus the unconditionality imperative of humanistic scholarship. His thoughts deeply resonate with the #IchBinHanna movement and other initiatives who, above any other kinds of reforms, call for improving the labor conditions in academia.


New Study by UMass Amherst Economist Examines the Misconceptions Doctoral Students Have of Scientific Publishing and Academic Labor Markets : UMass Amherst

Graduate students are excessively optimistic about both the state of the academic job market in their field and their likelihood to publish their research in top journals, according to a new study led by University of Massachusetts Amherst economist Ina Ganguli.

Using a survey of 1330 chemistry doctoral students and tracking the participants’ jobs and publications for more than four years, Ganguli and her co-authors found that while two-thirds of their study’s respondents rated their chance of publishing as lead author in the journals Nature, Science and Cell by the end of their doctoral studies as above 10% – and sometimes much higher – less than 1% of respondents actually managed to do so four years later.

Call for Proposals: College & Research Libraries Topical Issue on Open and Equitable Scholarship | deadline: October 3, 2022 | Association of College and Research Libraries, US

“ACRL’s Research and Scholarly Environment Committee is planning a topical issue of College & Research Libraries (C&RL) around new research on how the academic and research library workforce has accelerated change in the scholarly communications environment. We are particularly interested in articles on recent research that advances the three priority areas established in ACRL’s 2019 report Open and Equitable Scholarly Communications: Creating a More Inclusive Future (available for download or purchase): people, content, and systems. In that report, the first section on people addresses embracing diversity and inclusion, improving the working lives of people engaged in scholarly communications, and increasing awareness concerning creators’ rights. The second section, content, acknowledges the opportunity for greater inclusion and openness by rethinking what scholarship “counts” and creating more representative and open collections. The third section on systems identifies several avenues to explore: supporting sustainable technological infrastructure, creating systems that permit more access to more people, building mission-aligned organizational and financial systems, and advancing innovation in academic libraries. To learn more about the report, view a recorded webinar from when it was first released. For this C&RL topical issue, the research may use any investigative methods appropriate to addressing the research question(s). These include but are not limited to: standard quantitative and qualitative approaches, as well as critical evaluations, case studies, reflective essays, and (auto)ethnography. Articles resulting from collaborative research involving librarians and other higher education stakeholders, such as institutional researchers, faculty, administration, students, or community partners are particularly welcome. Given the focus of Open and Equitable Scholarly Communications on valuing different ways of knowing, the committee particularly welcomes adventurous scholarship, and we encourage work on issues of equity, diversity, and inclusion as they relate to academic libraries and scholarly communication. Proposals Proposals should be a maximum of 750 words. They should clearly outline the methodology and findings of the research, as well as its relevance to this topical issue, specifically its connection to the ACRL report Open and Equitable Scholarly Communications: Creating a More Inclusive Future, as described above. Prospective authors should submit a proposal by 5 p.m. Central on Monday, October 3, 2022, for open peer review. Submit via C&RL’s submission system (login required) and please note in your cover page that your submission is a proposal for the Open and Equitable Scholarly Communications topical issue….”

MacDonald (2022) Imagining networked scholarly communication: self-archiving, academic labour, and the early internet

Corina MacDonald (2022) Imagining networked scholarly communication: self-archiving, academic labour, and the early internet, Internet Histories, DOI: 10.1080/24701475.2022.2103987


This essay explores the emergence of self-archiving practices in the 1990s as a form of academic labour that is intimately tied to the popularisation of the Internet. It argues that self-archiving is part of a sociotechnical imaginary of networked scholarly communication that has helped to shape understandings of digital scholarship and dissemination over the past three decades. Focussing on influential texts written by open access archivangelist Stevan Harnad in 1990 and 1994, the essay analyzes the language and discursive strategies used to promote self-archiving as form of collective scholarly exchange. Through these writings, Harnad helped to articulate scholars to the Internet as a medium of publication, with impacts still seen today in policy discussions around open access and the public good that shape relations of knowledge production under contemporary forms of capitalism.


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’….”