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Projects

SCI invents, launches and manages a variety of projects to help improve science communication. Not all of these end up being sustainable, generating sufficient funding support and participation to move from the drawing board to reality. This isn’t for lack of merit, and some of the projects that didn’t take flight in past years may be revisited in the future. Below are summaries of the main projects SCI has launched over the past few years. Since late 2014, all of SCI’s funding and bandwidth has been supporting the Open Scholarship Initiative, our largest project to-date.

Currently active

The Open Scholarship Initiative

The Open Scholarship Initiative (OSI) is an ambitious, global, multi-stakeholder effort to improve the flow of information within research and between researchers, policymakers, funders and the general public. OSI’s main goals are to improve the openness of research and scholarly outputs, lower the barriers for researchers and scholars everywhere to engage in the global research community, and increase opportunities for all countries and people everywhere to benefit from this engagement. Closely connected to this work, OSI is also focusing on correcting a broad range of scholarly communication deficiencies and inefficiencies—without these corrections, open will not be achievable or sustainable.

There is no other undertaking like this, focusing on improving the entire landscape of scholarly communication everywhere by working together on this vital task across institutions, disciplines, regions and stakeholder groups. The specific problems this group is addressing are (1) a lack of coordination of other reform efforts in the scholarly communication space, (2) the fact that many of the reform efforts is this space are not designed for broad adoption, therefore impeding more rapid progress on open, and (3) a lack of information and understanding about the true dimensions of this issue.

OSI fills the “NOASIR” role for UNESCO—we serve as UNESCO’s Network for Open Access to Scientific Information and Research. What this means is that UNESCO is relying on OSI to support and cultivate the international open environment and connect stakeholders, support research and development in open technologies, policies and practices, defend access to scientific journals to developing countries, and serve as a laboratory for innovation and a catalyst for international cooperation.

OSI’s unique capabilities include:

  • Understanding: OSI has developed what is arguably the world’s most complete understanding of this very complex issue space
  • Commitment: OSI has a unique commitment to developing a global, multi-stakeholder approach to the future of how research is published and shared.
    • There are no other efforts like this in the world. Instead, there are unilateral efforts here and there (most recently emanating from the EU) that are trying to implement global programs for research sharing that risk making access worse for researchers in the global south. OSI’s goal is to create these programs only through broad, inclusive global consultation and cooperation, and to leave implementation a matter of national prerogative.
  • Tenure: We have been working on this issue since early 2015 in partnership with UNESCO
  • Membership: OSI currently includes around 400 high-level representatives from 27 countries, 250 institutions, and 20 stakeholder groups in research and scholarly communication—the only organization taking a broad and inclusive approach to this complex and important challenge.

The goals of OSI are to:

  • Achieve scholarly communication improvement goals faster and on a more predictable trajectory by bringing all stakeholders to the same side of the table to work together toward their common interests (while continuing to work out their differences on tangential issues),
  • Create multiple platforms for working on scholarly communication improvements together as a broad stakeholder community,
  • Increase the efficiency and effectiveness of stakeholder efforts by facilitating the development of a common roadmap of goals, policies, and standards in scholarly communication,
  • Protect the integrity of research by cracking down on fake research news and fake publishing, and
  • In the end, increase the amount of research information available to the world and the number of people who can access this information.

More information about OSI’s history, mission and goals can be found on the OSI website at www.osiglobal.org.

OSI website

Recently active

Science Communication Network

Because science communication is such a disparate and undefined field, SCI worked for several years to pull together a network of practitioners in this field to share insights and experiences. This work has been seriously sidetracked by OSI, but we haven’t removed it from “active” status.

Conferences

SCI is planning to organize more conferences on important topics as our budget allows. Most of our conferences to-date have revolved around OSI. Our 2013 Journals & Science conference laid the groundwork for OSI, which was launched the following year.

Journals & Science

SciComm PhD Program

Science communication training is needed, but there are very few opportunities for obtaining an advanced degree in this field. Part of the issue here is coherence—the academic community doesn’t agree on what the field looks like, let alone a PhD program. We may revisit this idea once we’ve made more progress definining the field.

On the drawing board

Climate Change Research Network

SCI is in the early stages of considering what a broad, multi-disciplinary network of researchers would look like whose purpose is to share research on climate change and work together on solutions. This network might be modeled after OSI, or launched as an OSI demonstration project.

All-Scholarship Repository

What are the pros and cons of having a single repository for all science research? OSI has been debating this issue for several years and tracking the progress of similar ideas. OSI may try to prototype this idea, but if it doesn’t, then SCI will.

Learn More

Science Clubs Upgrade

Science clubs can be important gateways for kids to get interested in science and stay interested. Not all schools and communities are fortunate enough to have active and capable clubs, though. The goal of this project is to improve the capacity of select clubs nationwide through networking.

Past efforts

SCI has invested significant time and effort on a number of other projects since 2011. These are currently inactive and may or may not be reactivated (depending on funding and interest):

  • SciComm News: SCI curated science communication news for a number of years, and used the SCI site as a portal for this information. A newsletter was also published. However, changes to Google’s search algorithm in 2014 made portal sites drop far down in search rankings (due to Google’s preference for “original” content and not links to existing content). This made publishing news counterproductive—the more we published, the more invisible we became.
SCI SciComm Newsletter
  • STEM Speakers Bureau: We still hold out hope that this may be a viable project. The basic idea is simple enough: make expert STEM speakers available for free to schools. However, this project didn’t attract funding support so until then we can’t test whether or not it will work. 
  • SciComm Crowd Funding: There isn’t much “official” funding available for scicomm work, meaning that alternative funding modes need to be explored. However, our experience t0-date is that the scicomm space is so diverse that there is no “main” audience, and funding call-to-action that resonates with everyone. This project will need to wait until the scicomm space becomes more unified (see SciComm Network).
  • Other: We’ve tried developing a SciComm Profile Series (showcasing the work of science communication professionals—the work we did complete is still listed on this site), a SciComm Journal and Guidebook (both of which were among the first projects we tried developing, but here again, the field is too disparate at the moment for these resources to have a clear audience), surveys to help better understand the field, and showcases to help share best practices. We’ve also worked behind the scenes to try to make improvements (working with Amazon in 2014-15, for instance, to investigate whether/how to sell scholarly journals online), and worked to develop a “science cloud” (which has now merged with the ASR project). All of these projects had a good run and we learned a lot in the process of trying to get them off the ground.