The Future of Research Communications and e-Scholarship


Principles of the Scholarly Commons – Open for Comments

A major goal of the Scholarly Commons program is to determine whether a set of high level principles that define the abstract entity known as the Scholarly Commons can be expressed in a useful way.  This exercise involves synthesis of activities from the Madrid Workshop, Re-imagining Research Communication and the San Diego workshop Putting the Pieces Together, and subsequent, ongoing work by subgroup 2 of the Scholarly Commons Working Group.

The current draft of the principles (Version 0.1.1, April 2017, archived in Zenodo) is a proposal for a set of defining principles for the Scholarly Commons (‘what to aspire to’), with a selection of the subprinciples as further specifications (‘what would that mean’).

This current set of principles was developed from the previous 18 principles with annotations and comments that came out of the Madrid and San Diego workshops and represented issues that were identified by workshop participants and the wider SCWG working group as important. To bring these together into a coherent view on what makes the Scholarly Commons tick, they were combined with a modified version of Daniel O’Donnell’s set of 7 principles that he defined in his blog posts “But does it work in theory?” I and II)

In our view, the principles do not describe what the Scholarly Commons should look like or how it should be organized. They do define the minimal conditions that practices and participants in the Scholarly Commons should meet. As such, they can function as an agreement between actors in scholarly communication, to guide their decisions on how to practice scholarship and to ‘badge’ themselves as (partly or fully) commons-compliant.

The actual implementation of the Scholarly Commons (whether that is by use of existing systems and platforms, or the creation of one or more new platforms, including decisions on how to govern these) is beyond the scope of the principles themselves. The principles are aimed to provide guidance on the conditions that should be met in the use, development and governance of systems or platforms.

The current draft the of principles is open for comment. Please use the Scholarly Commons discussion forum for that. If you wish to comment on the draft we urge you to become a member of the SCWG working group, and the principles subgroup in particular.

We also would like to enlist the help of the Scholarly Commons Working Group, specifically the principles subgroup, to:
Check the set of principles against the most important existing charters. Formulate use cases and check whether principles uphold in those cases. Put the principles before various communities. How do these principles relate to their practice? Can the principles be expected to be useful for the various communities?

While we see it as beneficial to offer a starting point, ultimately the principles need to be owned by us all. We want to hear your reaction and get your input into how we can collectively move towards a definitive statement of the Principles of the Commons.



Maryann Martone

Maryann Martone

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