Open+: Versioning Open Social Scholarship

Abstract:  Advocates of the Open Access (OA) movement have been fighting for free and unfettered access to research output since the early 1990s. Open access is a crucial element of a fair, efficient scholarly communication system where all are able to find, interpret, and use the results of publicly-funded research. Universal open access is more possible now than ever before, thanks to networked technologies and the development of open scholarship policies. But what happens after access to research is provided? In this paper I argue that versioning scholarship across varying modes and formats would move scholarly communication from a straightforward open access system to a more engaging environment for multiple communities.

[From the body of the paper:] “Here is my suggestion for simultaneously upholding important traditions of humanistic scholarship (e.g. peer review, long-form writing), as well as taking advantage of digital technologies, while committing to open scholarship as a de facto public good and ethical imperative of higher education: versioning. Ideas gain depth and traction as they are brought to light, discussed, reviewed, and refuted. This process of refinement is how we develop convincing arguments. Instead of thinking of “lowbrow” or opular communication mechanisms as outside of the scholarly communication process, or else as a public record or starting point for an idea, what if we considered multiple versions of an argument as equally important and requiring of our sustained effort and attention? The germ of any research output is the main argument or theory—what if that germ was sprouted in various venues and forms? One could simultaneously or sequentially publish a long-form argument via open access academic journal article; work with a journalist or writer colleague to explore the same argument in a more public, online venue—revised as appropriate for such a modality; post a truncated version of the argument on a personal blog as an easy referent; and create short, pithy social media encapsulations of the argument as well. Each mode of engagement will engender different reactions and feedback, as different audiences will collaborate and create knowledge at each interaction point (Arbuckle & Stewart 2017)….”