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Open Scholarship Policy in Focus

Published onNov 03, 2023
Open Scholarship Policy in Focus
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The open scholarship landscape is complex and always changing, but tracing relevant policy developments helps to define its boundaries, highlight emerging pathways, and bring key features into focus. In 2017, the Implementing New Knowledge Environments (INKE) Partnership launched the Open Scholarship Policy Observatory (OSPO; https://ospolicyobservatory.uvic.ca) with the goal of doing just that (Milligan et al. 2019). The OSPO tracks changes in national and international policy and reflects those findings back to the community, with the aim of building understanding of and community around open scholarship policy in Canada and beyond. For instance, more and more national governments, funding organizations, and institutions are developing policies related to open access to research data and publications, which intersect and sometimes conflict in complicated ways. Other forms and types of policies that make up the wider research ecosystem also affect open scholarship policy, such as publishers’ policies about rights retention, international digital infrastructure standards, and institutions’ review, tenure, and promotion guidelines. Given the role policy plays in influencing how researchers work and whether and how they share that work, an understanding of the policy landscape—both its foundations and its emerging trends—is key to advancing open scholarship.

Building on the Open Scholarship Policy Observatory, the Open Scholarship Press Policy annotated bibliography presents an overview scan of the policy landscape. This annotated bibliography is available on Wikibooks (https://en.wikibooks.org/wiki/Open_Scholarship_Press_Collections:_Policy) and PubPub (https://openscholarshippress.pubpub.org/open-scholarship-press-collections-policy) and was developed by me (Caroline Winter, University of Victoria), Alyssa Arbuckle (University of Victoria), Jesse Kern (University of British Columbia), Vitor Yano (Concordia University), Anna Honcharova (European Students’ Forum), Tyler Fontenot (Independent), Graham Jensen (University of Victoria), Alan Colín-Arce (University of Victoria), and Ray Siemens (University of Victoria), with the INKE and ETCL Research Groups.

This collection draws together a selection of key resources from the Policy annotated bibliography. Most are foundational policies and principles, but examples of theoretical overviews, research studies, and critical analysis are also included to provide a broad snapshot of the open scholarship policy landscape. Two important updates have been made as well: UNESCO’s final Recommendation on Open Science is included here rather than the in-progress version included in the Policy annotated bibliography, and the CARE Principles for Indigenous Data Governance have been added. This collected volume and the Policy annotated bibliography it accompanies do not aim to be fully comprehensive. The previously published works collected here (all licenced under Creative Commons) are intended to suggest entry points into the field rather than to define its borders. To make it easier to trace connections and policy developments, the resources are grouped into categories, following the structure of the annotated bibliography.

The open scholarship policy landscape is now dotted with many institutional, national, and international open access (OA) policies, with more springing up every year. The policy examples collected here, drawn from the Foundational Policies and Policy Frameworks section of the Policy annotated bibliography, are organized into thematic clusters. The first cluster includes two declarations published in the early 2000s which, together with the Berlin Declaration on Open Access to Knowledge in the Sciences and Humanities, are foundational to the Open Access movement. The Budapest Open Access Initiative (BOAI) declaration, initially released in February 2002, calls on the governments and the scholarly, publishing, and library communities to take advantage of the (then) new technology of the internet to make scholarly research freely available online. The authors recommend two means for achieving OA—open repositories and open access journals—and argue that by making knowledge available to all, open access has the potential to “lay the foundation for uniting humanity in a common intellectual conversation and quest for knowledge.” Over the past two decades, the BOAI has continued to work towards those lofty goals, with a new set of recommendations released in 2022 to mark its 20th anniversary. The Bethesda Statement on Open Access Publishing, drafted by and for the biomedical research committee and its stakeholders in April 2003, presents principles for transitioning to open access, building on the BOAI declaration. It offers a working definition of OA along with statements from three working groups: Institutions and Funding Agencies, Libraries and Publishers, and Scientists and Scientific Societies.

The third policy cluster includes two examples of open scholarship policy from the Government of Canada’s Tri-Agency, a national funding body comprising the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR), the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC), and the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC). The Tri-Agency Open Access Policy on Publications, published in 2015, emphasizes the importance of making publicly funded research outputs openly available and aims to improve access to the research it supports by requiring peer-reviewed journal publications and their related data to be made openly available within specific timeframes. The Tri-Agency Research Data Management Policy, published in 2021, promotes robust and sustainable RDM and data stewardship practices for publicly funded research. Although it does not require data to be open access, it encourages researchers to adhere to the FAIR Principles and to their own disciplinary standards. It also emphasizes the need for a community- and distinctions-based approach for RDM by, with, and for Indigenous communities.

The resources drawn from the Open Scholarship and the Open Scholarship Movement section of the Policy annotated bibliography offer an overview of the theoretical and historical background of open access and open scholarship and their possible future directions. John Willinsky’s book The Access Principle: The Case for Open Access to Research and Scholarship (2006) argues for open access to research on the grounds that it is a public good. The excerpt included here is the second chapter, “Access,” in which Willinsky discusses why research has become increasingly expensive and inaccessible even as online publishing has expanded its volume and reach. He describes the rise of the open access movement as “a direct and immediate response to this state of affairs in scholarly publishing” (35) and argues for open access to research as part of a larger open knowledge movement. In the report Foundations for Open Scholarship Strategy Development (2019), Jonathan Tennant, Jennifer Elizabeth Beamer, Jeroen Bosman, Björn Brembs, Neo Christopher Chung, Gail Clement, Tom Crick, et al. present an overview of the Open Scholarship movement and some foundational recommendations for stakeholders ranging from individual researchers to national organizations for advancing open scholarship on a global scale. Noting that open scholarship is founded on the practices and values of the scholarly community, the report concludes by advocating for the community to lead the way forward.

The resources drawn from the Scholarly Communications, Infrastructure, and Collaboration and Community Engagement sections of the Policy annotated bibliography outline some of the key issues and concerns for open scholarship and offer suggestions for addressing them. In the roundtable-style editorial “From the Ground Up: A Group Editorial on the Most Pressing Issues in Scholarly Communication” (2017), Nicky Agate, Gail Clement, Danny Kingsley, Sam Searle, Leah Vanderjagt, and Jen Waller offer a snapshot of the library community’s key concerns related to scholarly communication. A few common threads emerge, including issues of capacity and labour, the necessity of critically examining academia’s cultural norms and publishing practices, and the tension between scholarly values and commercial interests. The Association of Research Libraries’ (ARL) Task Force on Wikimedia and Linked Open Data 2019 report ARL White Paper on Wikidata: Opportunities and Recommendations considers whether and how Wikidata could play a role in research libraries as part of the digital research infrastructure. In the report, authors Stacy Allison-Cassin et al. outline some of the challenges libraries face in engaging with linked open data and argue that, while Wikidata cannot and should not replace existing library metadata systems, it does offer an open, accessible solution for getting started with linked open data as well as possibilities for engaging with researchers and the broader community. Addressing another key element of digital research infrastructure, Josh Brown’s report Developing a Persistent Identifier Roadmap for Open Access to UK Research (2020) presents an overview of how persistent identifiers (PIDs) are used in the UK research ecosystem and why and how they could be used to optimize open access publishing workflows and the digital research infrastructures and workflows more generally. Brown identifies some risks involved and strategies for mitigating them, arguing that developing a national strategy for PIDs is essential for advancing open scholarship in the UK. In Open Science Beyond Open Access: For and With Communities. A Step Towards the Decolonization of Knowledge (2020), Leslie Chan, Budd Hall, Florence Piron, Rajesh Tandon, and Lorna William argue for strengthening scholarly communication’s human infrastructures by building meaningful relationships between researchers and institutions and the broader community, including through decolonial approaches.

Implementing policy successfully can be challenging, especially when the context is complex and multifaceted. The next group of resources, drawn from the Policy Development, Implementation, and Analysis section of the Policy annotated bibliography, offer insights into how open scholarship policy could be implemented effectively in Canada and beyond. In “How Significant are the Public Dimensions of Faculty Work in Review, Promotion, and Tenure Documents” (2018), Juan Pablo Alperin, Carol Muñoz Nieves, Lesley Schimanski, Gustavo E. Fischman, Meredith T. Niles, and Erin C. McKiernan analyze a corpus of review, promotion, and tenure documents to determine what value is placed on community-engaged scholarship and other forms of public scholarship. Noting a mismatch between the value placed on public engagement in these documents and in institutional statements, the authors suggest that aligning them would help advance universities’ public service missions. “Evaluating the Impact of Open Access Policies on Research Institutions” shows that OA policies have a measurable effect on research communication, contributing to the open scholarship community’s ability to make evidence-informed policy decisions. For this study, Chun-Kai (Karl) Huang, Cameron Neylon, Richard Hosking, Lucy Montgomery, Katie S. Wilson, Alkim Ozaygen, and Chloe Brooks-Kenworthy tracked levels of OA publication across time and observed a clear increase in the percentage of OA research articles after the implementation of OA policies. Advancing Open: Views from Scholarly Communications Practitioners (2020) is a report by the Canadian Association of Research Libraries’ Open Repositories Working Group’s Task Group on Community Building and Engagement, authored by Lindsey MacCallum, Ann Barrett, Leah Vanderjagt, and Amy Buckland. It summarizes discussions and findings from a 2019 gathering that brought together scholarly communication practitioners from across Canada. The report is intended as a starting point for discussion, outlining the state of open scholarship in Canada, the barriers it faces, and some recommended strategies for future action. Open scholarship policy is one of the report’s focus areas (including the Tri-Agency policies included in this collection), along with open technological infrastructure, open people, open outreach, and open workflows and operations. In “Scholarly Communications and Social Justice” (2020), Charlotte Roh, Harrison W. Inefuku, and Emily Drabinsky show how current inequities in the scholarly communications ecosystem can be traced back through its history. This chapter from Martin Paul Eve and Jonathan Gray’s edited book Reassembling Scholarly Communications: Histories, Infrastructures, and Global Politics of Open Access calls for a reorientation of OA practices to be more in line with the social justice values at the core of the OA movement.

Taken together, the resources collected here illustrate the four themes identified in the Policy annotated bibliography. The first is the vital role played by libraries and the library community, which have been and continue to be strong advocates for open scholarship (see especially Agate et al. 2017; Allison-Cassin et al. 2019; Lin et al. 2020; MacCallum et al. 2020). As organizations that support researchers, negotiate with publishers, and liaise with institutional administration, academic libraries are uniquely positioned, and librarians have invaluable expertise in open scholarship policy and praxis, including with infrastructural elements such as PIDs and institutional repositories. The second theme is the heterogeneous nature of the open scholarship ecosystem, which is not only global in scale but also comprises a myriad of local factors, stakeholder groups, and disciplinary and institutional microclimates. This heterogeneity calls for diverse and responsive systems, including infrastructures (see especially Brown 2020; Chan et al. 2020; Huang et al. 2020; Tennant et al. 2019). Not surprisingly, then, the third theme is that there are tensions within the movement related to this heterogeneity. Many of these tensions relate to competing values and interests as well as to debates about the goals of the movement in a broader social context and how they can best be achieved. These tensions are often productive, though, leading to statements of principles and policies designed to advance open scholarship (see especially Brown et al. 2003; Chan et al. 2002; DORA Group 2012; Government of Canada 2015 and 2021; RECODE Project Consortium 2014; Roh et al. 2020; UNESCO 2021; Willinsky 2006). The fourth theme is the inherently social and collaborative nature of open scholarship as a practice. Although international, interdisciplinary collaboration across stakeholder groups and sectors can be challenging, it is essential for enacting positive change on a global scale, particularly for enacting cultural change within the scholarly community. The importance of collaboration is also evident in the way that open scholarship policies and practices respond and build upon each other (see especially Alperin et al. 2019; Carroll et al. 2020; Go FAIR n.d.; Tennant et al. 2019).

Taken together, the resources collected here illustrate these key open scholarship themes—the role of the library, heterogeneity, tensions, and collaboration—and provide a foundational view of the open scholarship policy landscape.

Works Cited & Original Citations

Agate, Nicky, Gail Clement, Danny Kingsley, Sam Searle, Leah Vanderjagt, and Jen Waller. 2017. “From the Ground Up: A Group Editorial on the Most Pressing Issues in Scholarly Communication.” Journal of Librarianship and Scholarly Communication 5. https://doi.org/10.7710/2162-3309.2196

Allison-Cassin, Stacy, Alison Armstrong, Phoebe Ayers, Tom Cramer, Mark Custer, Mairelys Lemus-Rojas, Sally McCallum, et al. ARL Task Force on Wikimedia and Linked Open Data. 2019. ARL White Paper on Wikidata: Opportunities and Recommendations. Association of Research Libraries. https://apo.org.au/node/254221

Alperin, Juan P., Carol Muñoz Nieves, Lesley A. Schimanski, Gustavo E. Fischman, Meredith T. Niles, and Erin C. McKiernan. 2019. “How Significant Are the Public Dimensions of Faculty Work in Review, Promotion, and Tenure Documents?” ELife 8 (February): e42254. https://doi.org/10.7554/eLife.42254

Brown, Josh. 2020. Developing a Persistent Identifier Roadmap for Open Access to UK Research. Jisc. https://repository.jisc.ac.uk/7840/

Brown, Patrick O., Diane Cabell, Aravinda Chakravarti, Barbara Cohen, Tony Delamothe, Michael Eisen, Les Grivell, et al. 2003. Bethesda Statement on Open Access Publishing. http://nrs.harvard.edu/urn-3:HUL.InstRepos:4725199

Carroll, Stephanie Russo, Ibrahim Garba, Oscar L. Figueroa-Rodríguez, Jarita Holbrook, Raymond Lovett, Simeon Materechera, Mark Parsons, et al. 2020. “The CARE Principles for Indigenous Data Governance.” Data Science 19 (1): 43. https://doi.org/10.5334/dsj-2020-043

Chan, Leslie, Budd Hall, Florence Piron, Rajesh Tandon, and Lorna William. 2020. Open Science Beyond Open Access: For and With Communities. A Step Towards the Decolonization of Knowledge. The Canadian Commission for UNESCO’s IdeaLab. https://doi.org/10.5281/zenodo.3946773

Chan, Leslie, Darius Cuplinskas, Michael Eisen, Fred Friend, Yana Genova, Jean-Claude Guédon, Melissa Hagemann, et al. 2002. “Budapest Open Access Initiative.” Budapest Open Access Initiative. https://www.budapestopenaccessinitiative.org/read

DORA Group. 2012. “San Francisco Declaration on Research Assessment.” DORA. https://sfdora.org/read/

Go FAIR. n.d. FAIR Principles. https://www.go-fair.org/wp-content/uploads/2022/01/FAIRPrinciples_overview.pdf

Government of Canada. 2015. “Tri-Agency Open Access Policy on Publications.” https://science.gc.ca/site/science/en/interagency-research-funding/policies-and-guidelines/open-access/tri-agency-open-access-policy-publications

Government of Canada. 2021. “Tri-Agency Research Data Management Policy.” https://science.gc.ca/eic/site/063.nsf/eng/h_97610.html

Huang, Chun-Kai (Karl), Cameron Neylon, Richard Hosking, Lucy Montgomery, Katie S. Wilson, Alkim Ozaygen, and Chloe Brookes-Kenworthy. 2020. “Evaluating the Impact of Open Access Policies on Research Institutions.” ELife 9 (September): e57067. https://doi.org/10.7554/eLife.57067

INKE (Implementing New Knowledge Environments). n.d. Open Scholarship Policy Observatory. Accessed July 31, 2023. https://ospolicyobservatory.uvic.ca/

Lin, Dawei, Jonathan Crabtree, Ingrid Dillo, Robert R. Downs, Rorie Edmunds, David Giaretta, Marisa De Giusti, et al. 2020. “The TRUST Principles for Digital Repositories.” Scientific Data 7 (1): 144. https://doi.org/10.1038/s41597-020-0486-7

MacCallum, Lindsey, Ann Barrett, Leah Vanderjagt, and Amy Buckland. 2020. Advancing Open: Views from Scholarly Communications Practitioners. Canadian Association of Research Libraries (CARL–ABRC). https://www.carl-abrc.ca/wp-content/uploads/2020/04/ORWG_report3_Advancing_open_EN.pdf

Milligan, Sarah, Kimberly Silk, Alyssa Arbuckle, and Ray Siemens. 2019. “The Initial Impact of the Open Scholarship Policy Observatory.” KULA: Knowledge Creation, Dissemination, and Preservation Studies 3 (February): 16. http://dx.doi.org/10.5334/kula.43

RECODE Project Consortium. 2014. Policy Recommendations for Open Access to Research Data. https://zenodo.org/record/50863

Roh, Charlotte, Harrison W. Inefuku, and Emily Drabinski. 2020. “Scholarly Communications and Social Justice.” In Reassembling Scholarly Communications: Histories, Infrastructures, and Global Politics of Open Access, edited by Martin Paul Eve and Jonathan Gray, 41–52. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press. https://doi.org/10.7551/mitpress/11885.003.0007

Tennant, Jonathan, Jennifer Elizabeth Beamer, Jeroen Bosman, Björn Brembs, Neo Christopher Chung, Gail Clement, Tom Crick, et al. 2019. Foundations for Open Scholarship Strategy Development. Preprint. https://doi.org/10.31222/osf.io/b4v8p

UNESCO. 2021. UNESCO Recommendation on Open Science. https://unesdoc.unesco.org/ark:/48223/pf0000379949.locale=en

Willinsky, John. 2006. The Access Principle: The Case for Open Access to Research and Scholarship. Digital Libraries and Electronic Publishing. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press. http://mitpress.mit.edu/books/access-principle

Winter, Caroline, ed. 2022. Open Scholarship Press Collections: Policy. Open Scholarship Press Collections. Open Scholarship Press. https://openscholarshippress.pubpub.org/open-scholarship-press-collections-policy

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