The Future of Research Communications and e-Scholarship

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At FSCI 2019, a focus on building scholarly communication in inclusive ways

A major theme of this year’s FORCE11 Scholarly Communication Institute was a call to recognize the outsized influence some groups of people have over the development of scholarly communication tools and standards and to encourage more inclusive ways of valuing scholarship. One keynote asked us to “imagine a world where the [Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society] never existed and we instead had developed our systems from the ideas underpinning the success stories of scholarly communications infrastructures and systems from Latin America, Asia and Africa, from beyond the English-speaking world, and from communities not traditionally considered as ‘scholarly’.”

It was eye-opening to imagine how exclusive thinking about the effects of the systems being built might undermine efforts to preserve data and make it accessible and reusable as a truly open, first-class research object.

Our community wants to build standards and tools that improve the FAIRness of research data at scale. But what assumptions – about the resources we expect people from different parts of the world to have, about how we expect researchers to do research – are being baked into these standards and tools?

Take data citations – we want them to count for at least as much as article citations do, but can we iterate toward norms and systems that help reward researchers based on the merits of their data? Can we avoid some equivalent of what a lot of bibliometrics research has called an overwhelming preference for “North-dominated,” highly-cited scholarly journals?

Thanks in part to a travel scholarship, I was glad to learn that these conversations are already happening in inclusive ways at gatherings like FSCI and feel pretty fortunate to have been a part of them.


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