The Future of Research Communications and e-Scholarship

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WP3:Decision Trees

A subgroup of the Scholarly Commons Working Group A process for developing decision trees for selected research objects and processes [Helmsley goal:  (landscape) visualization, dissemination]

Please see the Scholarly Commons website for our latest activities.

The first version of a paper describing the Scholarly Commons has been released!  All feedback welcome.

For this work, we have created a matrix of scholarly objects that are in the commons and a subset of principles/rules that guide their production.  Although we don't yet have the final set of principles (see WG2), based on the two workshops and principles and charters from around the world, we believe that the following attributes capture what scholarly objects within the commons should be and that these will appear in some form in the final set of principles:

Our eventual goal is to be able to produce decision trees that can help those who are interested in abiding by the principles of the commons to help achieve commons compliance. We are not trying simply to operationalise an ideological vision, we are seeking to define and enable a sensible, workable system for digital research and research communications.These trees will be fairly generic, but should be modifiable by different communities to meet their specific requirements.  Thus, we are trying to make the trees themselves commons compliant, even though this is a work in progress.  

We have defined 5 levels of compliance for objects in the commons, currently numbered L1-L5.   The outcomes of actions in these decision trees will be indicated by these codes.  

As can be seen by the matrix of scholarly objects, we still have a ways to go to cover all potential scholarly objects.  We invite those who have joined this working group to help in this endeavor.  We are commissioning a decision tree workflow, based on the Policy Model software developed at Harvard to help with this process, which should be ready in a few months.  We have set up a GitHub repository under FORCE11 for this work.  

We've also started gathering our recommendations for how a commons should work in our Handbook of the Commons.

WELCOME NEW MEMBERS!  Our weekly meetings are held on Mondays.  A notice is sent out with the information, so check your email, but the regular time is 9.00PST/12.00EST/17.00BST/18.00EDT  Please check the Google Forum for past emails for the group, so you can get up to speed.  We are also generally keeping track of what we do using Google Docs and in particular, this slide set.  We hope you'll dive in and please post any questions you have!

We're still in the process of refining the trees themselves. Please see these examples, which are open for comments. We have also done the first conversion to the Policy Models format, available through our a GitHub repository under FORCE11 for this work.  From this point, we'll be managing the process of feedback from GitHub.  

Decision trees will be organized by principle > scholarly object/entity.  Here are some sample trees.

We now have a dedicated server for the Policy Model versions of the decision trees.  We will now be working from these versions and are targeting release of V1 for FORCE2017.  

Early versions are still visible here:

And we're interested in producing a final decision tree output that is as easy to read and understand as possible, so our final proposed action will be to commission some UX/UI work. 


Summary of proposed activities:

  • Set up a matrix of digital research objects and processes to map the landscape of scholarly communications. Identify 1-3 for development of specific decision trees.
    • Operating principles for the purposes of the decision trees:  We want to produce digital entities that are Open, FAIR, Citable
  • Develop an actionable framework/decision tree for conducting commons-compliant (or as near as we can get) research for the selected entities/processes. This includes testing tools, best practice recommendations and other relevant resources.
    • A solicitation for developing a commons compliant workflow for producing decision trees has been posted.  Closting date for solicitations was March 27, 2017. 
  • Practice the process in as commons-compliant a way as possible. Select a set of draft principles that we feel provide the necessary conceptual guidance for conducting this exercise, e.g., open by default, FAIR, attributing contributions, documenting processes, e.g. using CRediT taxonomy.
  • Produce a report to record not only the decision-trees (results) but also to retain the insights resulting from practising the process.
  • Continue the work of the San Diego workshop to define a "Minimal Viable Product" of the Commons.

These activities fit what was set out in the Helmsley proposal: “to make it easier to understand the Scholarly Commons, find, and use these materials, we will create a conceptual overview of the Commons, supported by a clarifying visualization. The landscape visualization will serve as an overview and index of standards, principles and practices that inform the different aspects of the Commons.  It will also provide an overview of individuals, tools, projects and organizations that work within a particular area, showing where they work and their unique contributions. The visualization also aids in branding the idea of the Scholarly Commons as something tangible in ways that a simple catalog will not.”


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Maryann Martone

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