Back in the Fall of 2014, scholarly communication experts were arguing simultaneously on several different listservs about the future of open access in science. In order to help focus this conversation, our nonprofit—the Science Communication Institute (SCI)—set up a listserv dedicated to discussing this topic in a moderated setting and invited all interested debaters to join in. Dozens of people signed up in the first week, and the list eventually grew to 114 participants, including many of the most recognized names in scholarly communication. Over the next two months this “Open Science Initiative Working Group” developed a comprehensive, multifaceted summary of the scholarly communication landscape (see Open Science Initiative 2015) and also arrived at a fascinating conclusion: We should keep talking. UNESCO pledged it’s support to help bring together even more global leaders in scholarly communication, followed quickly by pledges of support from George Mason University, major publishers, the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, and many others. A key promise to everyone involved was that we would try to produce results from all this talking, not just reports. We also promised that these results would be based in a common ground understanding of the scholarly communication landscape, arrived at by working together.
Since early 2015 dozens of dedicated volunteers have put in countless hours building the infrastructure of what we later expanded and renamed the Open Scholarship Initiative (OSI). And since early 2016 over 400 scholarly communication leaders have participated substantively in OSI conversations, some more than others. We haven’t ever grown to the point where we can hire enough people to really aggressively follow through on the long wish-list that has been created by OSI participants, but this wish-list itself may be what’s most important. A diverse array of scholarly communication leaders working through OSI has come up with a wide array of recommendations built on common ground. Many of these recommendations have been captured in OSI workgroup reports published on the OSI website (osiglobal.org); many more recommendations have evolved over time through the discussions we’ve had on the OSI listserv.
This report on Plan S and the future of global solutions to open is the first in a series of reports that will attempt to identify the common ground perspectives we’ve discovered over the last few years of working together. They are imperfect documents at best. Some in OSI disagree with publishing these because they might make us seem partisan; others disagree with whether these reports can possibly have the right balance between pro and con sentiments on any particular issue; still others are concerned that we don’t represent the entire global community. All of these concerns are valid, but they need to be evaluated in the context that despite our flaws, we are working together to find common ground. These reports are expressions of this intent. They should be rightly and roundly criticized by all sides for having shortcomings, but these shortcomings are less important than the effort and the lesson that we can indeed work together. It’s a lesson that is timely not just in scholarly communication but society in general. We can choose a future where we demonize those who may have different interests and opinions, or we can actually talk to each other and work with each other to develop real understanding and lasting solutions.
To everyone who has worked with each other in OSI over these past four years, to the funders who have supported this work, and to the universities who have hosted our conferences, thank you.
Program director, OSI
Executive director, SCI