Community, governance, and shared goals: these are the key concepts that you would have heard discussed, had you listened in on September 21 at the Open Science Fair 2021 to the sessions entitled “ScholeXplorer and OpenCitations as the new frontier of open citation indexing” and “The perils of being invisible. Collective funding models for Open Science infrastructure”, in which OpenCitations’ director Silvio Peroni discussed with other expert speakers the various goals and challenges of Open Science Infrastructures.
Open Science Fair is an initiative of OpenAIRE, co-organized by the following key international initiatives in the area of Open Science: COAR, EIFL, Force11, LA Referencia, LIBER, OPERAS, Sparc and Sparc Europe. A biannual event, it brings together “perspectives from different actors” and “suggests ways in which communities can work together to produce roadmaps for the implementation of Open Science”. The 2021 online event saw the participation of distinguished speakers in keynote talks, roundtable discussions, workshops and training sessions. At OpenCitations, we are grateful and proud to have been invited to participate in this collaborative and inspiring virtual fair.
The Lightning Talk “ScholeXplorer and OpenCitations as the new frontier of open citation indexing” was a presentation by Silvio Peroni, co-authored with Paolo Manghi (OpenAire), Alessia Bardi (CNR-ISTI), and Sandro La Bruzzo (CNR-ISTI), describing two of the 14 open data services included in the MONITOR portfolio of the OpenAIRE-Nexus project that are used to monitor Open Science, research impact and open citations – the domains of interest of the two services presented. ScholeXplorer provides access under a CC-BY license to a huge set of links between datasets and scholarly publications, while OpenCitations, as an open infrastructure for open bibliographic metadata and citations, grants access to more than 1.18 billion DOI-to-DOI citation links, released with a CC0 public domain waiver. Both services also provide tools that allow users to query their data, with the common final goal of providing open links between scholarly resources and making them available within the OpenAire Research Graph.
As Silvio Peroni recalled, last July this article by Ian Hutchins:
B. Ian Hutchins; A tipping point for open citation data. Quantitative Science Studies 2021; 2 (2): 433–437. doi: https://doi.org/10.1162/qss_c_00138
celebrated passing the threshold of one billion open citations within public-domain databases in February 2021. However, the evanescence of “missing” or untraceable scholarly data, discussed in this post, can affect Open Science Infrastructures (OSI) as a whole, as highlighted during the Workshop “The perils of being invisible. Collective funding models for Open Science infrastructure”.
This workshop involved Agata Morka and Vanessa Proudman from SCOSS, and representatives of the three Open Science Infrastructures involved in the Second SCOSS Funding Cycle, namely Silvio Peroni (OpenCitations), Niels Stern (DOAB/OAPEN), and James MacGregor (PKP). The starting topic of the Workshop, in which the funder perspective was provided Jean-Francois Lutz (University of Lorraine), was the paradox: although the scholarly community increasingly relies on Open Science Infrastructures, it seems very difficult to get them “to realize that there are some operational and development costs related to their existence”. In this discouraging environment, SCOSS plays a crucial role in promoting such services to potential supporters. The most recent SCOSS annual survey, presented by Jon Treadway (Great North Wood Consulting) during the workshop and involving 217 institutions from across the world, helps us understand the impact and external perception of SCOSS on a global scale. It revealed a correspondence between the geographical areas in which SCOSS is best known and the locations of the major supporters, which perhaps should not surprise us. More importantly, it found that, in addition to interoperability and global significance, community governance was one of the most important aspects of the infrastructures that institutions chose to invest in. In particular, the chance to be directly involved in governance was found to act as a great incentive for university libraries to invest in external infrastructures. Community governance is a core aspect of the Principles for Open Scholarly Infrastructures and, as underlined in this blog post, OpenCitations is working hard to achieve full compliance.
Obstacles to offering support were found to include administrative barriers, although these could be reduced if individual supporters joined consortia. Overall, however, such administration hurdles were minor issues. More significantly, some institutions were unable to pledge funds in the short term, and there was seen to be a need to raise awareness of the necessity of generating cultural change around the issue of community support. As Vanessa Proudman underlined, it is crucial to create dialogue with institutions and libraries, in order to foster the understanding that supporting Open Science Infrastructures could be beneficial for both students and researchers, and a realization that the minimum annual contribution requested by SCOSS from any one libraryto support such an infrastructure was less than a single article processing charge (APC), trivial in comparison with the huge annual institutional subscriptions for access to journals and citation indexes.
In a separate SCOSS interview, Marin Dacos (Open Science Advisor to the Director-General for Research and Innovation at the French Ministry of Higher Education, Research and Innovation) defined Open Science Infrastructures as “a common good of the scholarly community”, distinctly different from the services of commercial publishers. An essential value of an Open Scholarly Infrastructure is its community engagement and, from this perspective, the community funding approach promoted by SCOSS is the most efficient. As Silvio Peroni said, “What after SCOSS? SCOSS helps in creating a community around the service, and this community remains even after the three-year period of SCOSS promotion is over”.
Maybe, by fostering this growing global network of institutions and services committed to promoting a more open research, Open Scholarly Infrastrucutres can find an answer to the question “How can we not be invisible?” and achieve not just ‘sustainable’ but sustained funding from the academic community.