With the advent of open scholarship we are building a knowledge commons.
The commons refers to a collection of resources that are accessible to all members of a society. One of the implications of moving to a commons model for scholarly communications is that we need to adopt new processes, structures and models that define how these shared resources are managed. This will require us to rethink current approaches such as how we fund open scholarship, the way we evaluate research outcomes, and develop new governance models.
In the knowledge commons, diversity is an extremely important characteristic. Diversity in services and platforms, funding mechanisms, and evaluation measures will allow us to accommodate the different workflows, languages, scholarrly products, and research topics from different research communities. This is what the Jussieu Call refers to as “bibliodiversity”.
By its very nature, bibliodiversity cannot be pursued through a single, unified approach. However, fostering diversity does require significant intentionality and coordination in order to avoid a fragmented system or a growth in centralization. Building on the principles outlined in the Jussieu Call, that promotes bibliodiversity and innovation in open scholarship, COAR is working with other like-minded organizations to explore new pathways and models that will help to establish the conditions for a diverse and inclusive knowledge commons.
In September 2017, COAR and SPARC published a joint statement related to this issue and pledged to collaborate with others on actions that will ensure research communication services are better aligned with the aims of research. Accordingly, COAR and SPARC have developed seven Good Practice Principles for Scholarly Communication Services. The aim is to ensure that services are transparent, open, and support the aims of scholarship.
Open access is about the democratization of knowledge. However, as open access becomes widely adopted, there is a risk that we will accentuate the inequalities and unsustainability of scholarly publishing, through widespread implementation of pay to publish business models. At COAR, we recognize that we need to go beyond open access, to consider how to create an open and fair system for sharing research outcomes. See Five Prerequisites for a Sustainable Knowledge Commons.