ASSAf News

Tuesday 14 May 2018 saw the formation of Invest In Open Infrastructure (IOI) a global initiative to increase the availability and sustainability of open knowledge infrastructure. The needs of today’s diverse scholarly communities are not being met by the existing largely uncoordinated scholarly infrastructure, which is dominated by vendor products that take ownership of the scholarly process and data without appropriate governance and oversight from the communities they serve.

 We imagine a world in which communities of researchers, scholars, and knowledge workers across the globe are fully enabled to share, discover, and collaborate using tools and platforms that are designed to interoperate and complement one another rather than compete and exclude.

IOI will consist of two functions, one is an assessment and recommendation framework that will regularly survey the landscape of open scholarly infrastructure with respect to its functionality, usage, health and financial needs and make funding recommendations for that infrastructure.

IOI’s second function will coordinate funds to follow the recommendations of the framework. Coordinating financial resources from institutions, agencies and foundations, we will work to increase the overall funding available to emerging and critical infrastructure.

IOI grew out of last year’s Joint Roadmap for Open Scholarly Tools (JROST) and within the context of Plan S, the European Open Science Cloud, the US NAS Open Science by Design effort, SCOSSAmeliCA, and the UC Declaration of Rights and Principles to Transform Scholarly Communication. It’s clear that while the advances of digital scholarship have resulted in many benefits, that scientists and scholars who generally work in the public interest have a need for more open infrastructure which mirrors their social focus.

As Geoffrey Bilder, Jennifer Lin and Cameron Neylon put it in 2015: “Everything we have gained by opening content and data will be under threat if we allow the enclosure of scholarly infrastructures.”

IOI is a collaboration between many, including the Joint Roadmap for Open Scholarly Tools (JROST)SPARC EuropeSPARCMapping the Scholarly Communication InfrastructureOpen Research Funders Group (ORFG)OPERAS, and the Open Platforms Group.

Our steering committee includes Ginny Barbour (Australasian Open Access Strategy Group), Arianna Becerril (Universidad Autónoma del Estado de México), Leslie Chan (University of Toronto Scarborough), Raym Crow (SPARC), Peg Fowler (Hypothesis), Heather Joseph (SPARC), Pierre Mounier (OPERAS), Cameron Neylon (Curtin Univ), David Lewis (Mapping the Scholarly Communications Infrastructure), Lucy Ofiesh (Center for Open Science), Vanessa Proudman (SPARC Europe), Kristen Ratan (Coko Foundation), Danielle Robinson (Code for Science and Society), Mike Roy (Middlebury College), Katherine Skinner (Educopia), Ina Smith (Academy of Science of South Africa), Greg Tananbaum (Open Research Funders Group), Evviva Weinraub (Northwestern), Dan Whaley (Hypothesis), and Maurice York (University of Michigan).

This is the beginning of a process for which community feedback, a truly global perspective, and participation by all stakeholders will be critical to its success.

Prof Himla Soodyall, Executive Officer, Academy of Science of South Africa (ASSAf)

“ASSAf is committed to working with other African Academies within the NASAC network to ensure that evidence-based science is used to advance societal issues. There are many initiatives within ASSAf that uses open infrastructure services to facilitate scholarly activities. We are happy to endorse and support this initiative.”

Dr Heide Hackmann, Chief Executive Officer, International Science Council

“The open science imperative is about advancing the rigour, reliability and relevance of science in addressing the complexities of today’s global challenges. The African Open Science Platform (AOSP) is an example of the action now critically needed to ensure that science systems — particularly those that remain under-resourced — are able to adapt to the open science paradigm through proactive coordination and collaboration at a regional scale.”

Ina Smith, Project Manager, Academy of Science of South Africa

“The world is catapulting towards the Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR, the ‘data revolution’) whilst in the midst of the Third Industrial Revolution (the ‘digital revolution’). As with the digital revolution, the data revolution is expected to have profound implications for scholarly publishing, utilising — among others — artificial Intelligence to develop services that can offer even more benefits to the global scholarly community. Africa relies heavily on the current open infrastructure scholarly publishing services available, and will also rely on possible future services brought along by the 4IR, to align with best practises and standards applied globally. The IOI initiative towards finding solutions and support for sustainable scholarly publishing services is much needed, since the majority of African countries cannot afford the services offered by profit-driven businesses. Open infrastructure services benefit Africa in many ways — to catch-up with what is happening in scholarly publishing, but also to become and remain an equal player towards addressing Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). We cannot afford a further digital divide, and with the world being more connected more than ever before, all are to equally benefit from good-quality research supported by existing and future open infrastructure services.”


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