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Sustaining Scholarly Infrastructures through Collective Action: The lessons that Olson can teach us


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Talk given at OECD workshop on sustaining scholarly data infrastructures

Published in: Science
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Sustaining Scholarly Infrastructures through Collective Action: The lessons that Olson can teach us

  1. 1. Sustaining Scholarly Infrastructures Through Collective Action The Lessons that Olson Can Teach Us @cameronneylon
  2. 2. To read the paper search for biorxiv neylon olson
  3. 3. • 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 • Oligopoly • Non-collective goods as a side effect • Compulsory funding (taxation)
  4. 4. Ways of beating the problem… 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
  5. 5. Crossref phased through all three approaches 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.
  6. 6. Project Infrastructure
  7. 7. Project Infrastructure
  8. 8. Project Infrastructure “Find  a   sustainability   model”
  9. 9. Membership  Models Subscriptions Non-­‐collective  side-­‐product
  10. 10. Project Infrastructure
  11. 11. No taxation without representation
  12. 12. • 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
  13. 13. 1. Membership models are much less applicable as a transitional model than we would like (especially for open data) 2. If we accept a need to move to taxation models then organisations will need to be trusted by community
  14. 14. @cameronneylon Slides: