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Sustainable Futures for Research Communication


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Slides for a talk given at Duke University on 7 October 2016. The talk focusses on political economics of scholarly publishing and routes forward to finding equitable and affordable ways to shift to Open Access.

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Sustainable Futures for Research Communication

  1. 1. Sustainable Futures for Research Communication The Political Economics of Scholarly Publishing @cameronneylon Slides: sustainable-futures-for-research-communication
  2. 2. To read the paper search for goods scholarly marketplace
  3. 3. Most of what we say about sustainability is nonsense
  4. 4. A lot of what we ask people to do for sustainability will never work
  5. 5. He who receives an idea from me, receives instruction himself without lessening mine; as he who lights his taper at mine, receives light without darkening me. Thomas Jefferson
  6. 6. Groups make knowledge…
  7. 7. …knowledge is a club good
  8. 8. How do we sustain public-making?
  9. 9. • Collective (Public-Like) Goods are difficult for large groups to provision • Small groups can work together • Large groups will fail except under specific circumstances
  10. 10. How do we sustain public-making?
  11. 11. How do we sustain the club?
  12. 12. Institutionalizing the scholar
  13. 13. Institutions are the the prescriptions that humans use to organize all forms of repetitive and structured interactions Ostrom – Governing the Commons
  14. 14. Hartley and Potts – Cultural Science Culture [and institutions] make groups. Groups make knowledge.
  15. 15. The publishing systems is a collective good
  16. 16. One purpose of universities is to force professional scholars to publish
  17. 17. Institutionalizing the publisher
  18. 18.
  19. 19. A journal is a club Potts et al – SSRN
  20. 20. Club size is limited by friction in access to the club good Potts et al – SSRN
  21. 21. Journal  Club Knowledge  Club
  22. 22. Journal  Club Knowledge  Club
  23. 23. Journal  Club Knowledge  Club
  24. 24.  Ribeiro  SimõesCC  BY
  25. 25. A brief data interlude…
  26. 26. • Collective (Public-Like) Goods are difficult for large groups to provision • Small groups can work together • Large groups can only succeed by applying one of three special cases • Compulsory funding (taxation) • Non-collective goods as a side effect • Oligopoly
  27. 27. Crossref phased through all three models Crossref provides a public good in the form of freely accessible bibliographic metadata and the infrastructure that supports it. Three phases 1. Effective oligopoly: 5-7 publishers dominate the space and were essentially able to act unilaterally to set up and support Crossref 2. Non-collective side benefit: Members join to be able to assign DOIs and to gain the benefits of traffic through the referrer 3. Compulsory contribution: No (STM) publisher will be taken seriously unless it is assigning Crossref DOIs. Membership is (close to) effectively compulsory for a serious publisher.
  28. 28. Implementation Models 1. Oligopoly: Generally of funders or publishers, there are too many institutions. EuropePMC is an example. 2. Non-collective side-product: Needs to be a natural service or non- collective good generated as part of public good provisioning. Very few good examples in open data world and this is predictable, failure often results in a turn to a subscription model eg TAIR 3. Compulsion: Either compulsory membership models (professional certificationis an example) or top slicing/overheads models
  29. 29. What about the library…?
  30. 30. What way forward?
  31. 31. 1. Control over capital (the Marxist revolution)
  32. 32. 2. Focus on community building
  33. 33. 3. Support collective models
  34. 34. 4. Define service requirements
  35. 35. 5. Build infrastructures
  36. 36. No taxation without representation
  37. 37. • Broad coverage • Stakeholder governed • Non-discriminatory • Transparent operations • Cannot lobby • Living will • Incentivesto wind down • Time-limitedfunds only for time-limiteduses • Generate a surplus • Contingency fund • Revenue from services • Mission consistent • Can be “forked” • Open Source • Open Data • Available Data • Patent non-assertion Governance Financial sustainability Communityinsurance Bilder G,  Lin  J,  Neylon  C  2015  Principles  for  Open  Scholarly  Infrastructure-­v1,   Available  at
  38. 38. Prestige = Price
  39. 39. Build sustainable communities in an environment where public-making is good for those communities
  40. 40. @cameronneylon Slides: sustainable-futures-for-research-communication