What a year it’s been…

If there’s anything the COVID-19 pandemic has done for us in 2020, it’s magnified the necessity for a broad conversation about the need for a coordinated approach in how research publications are disseminated – specifically the need for universal open access to research globally. It’s also shows that these conversations need to happen not just across not just the university and research sector, but in the public & community sphere as well.

The pandemic has put a spotlight on the dependence on an outdated and inequitable publishing system and flawed career incentive model for researchers. These impediments to open access can be addressed with commitments from both governments and the academic sector to building structural equity and inclusion, through coordinated support for open infrastructure, polices, practices and training.

We’re hoping our latest series of webinars at the end of 2020 – a joint venture with the Council of Australian University Librarians – will help make the case for well funded, stable open infrastructure. The first of our two panel discussions explored how an Australian national strategy might be developed with three individuals who have been key in the development of national strategies in their respective countries: Dr Pirjo-Leena Forsström (IT Centre for Science, Finland); Dr Patricia Clarke (HRB Open Research, Ireland) & Professor Noorsaadah Abd. Rahman (University of Malaya). The second panel heard from three key Australian stakeholders: Dr Cathy Foley, Chief Scientist, CSIRO & Australia’s next Chief Scientist Professor Robyn Owens, Emeritus Professor, and former DVCR UWA Ryan Winn, CEO of Australian Council of Learned Academies. Recordings of the panel discussions are available here. The webinars were very well attended by many participants from across the research sector in Australia and New Zealand, and came on the back of what we think has been our most successful Open Access Week so far.

When we planned our timetable for this year’s OA week activities we hoped to fulfill the sentiment of the Open with Purpose theme. Our line up didn’t disappoint with a record number (1686) of registrations across our 10 online events. Many thanks to our wonderful speakers whose passion for their fields of interest flowed into their presentations which were received with appreciation from an enthusiastic audience. Our online workshops were led with thoughtfulness and skill and provided insights for eager participants who took away some great new skills and knowledge. Our most well attended event was the panel session Indigenous Voices, Indigenous Research and Open Access which brought to the fore the need for the consideration of cultural sensitivities and preservation in the pursuit of knowledge. Our sincere thanks to all contributors, especially our OA Week Steering Group. Recordings of all sessions are available here.

To kick off our Open Access week activities Nobel Laureate Professor Peter Doherty spoke with our Director Dr Ginny Barbour about his passion for science and research, and how publishing has changed during his career.  Listen to the interview here.

Throughout the year we were helped enormously by the AOASG Practitioners Group (volunteers from our member institutions) who assisted us with their time, expertise and good humour to help in:

  • developing and creating the concepts for teaching modules which will form the basis of our new advocacy workshops in 2021
  • analysing our online content for a massive website overhaul and upgrade (coming very soon)
  • developing and creating a databank of Open Access Frequently Asked Questions aimed at our main user groups

We also had a good year of public advocacy for open research. Highlights include:
Open science: after the COVID-19 pandemic there can be no return to closed working – Martin Borchert and Ginny Barbour for the Australian Academy of Science
Science publishing has opened up during the coronavirus pandemic. It won’t be easy to keep it that way Ginny Barbour in the Conversation
How Prestige Journals Remain Elite, Exclusive And Exclusionary Ginny Barbour quoted in piece by Madhukar Pai in Forbes
How Open Access Suddenly Became the Norm Ginny Barbour speaking in research symposium IP & education in the age of COVID-19
Ginny Barbour Interviewed on CGTN about COVID-19’s effects on research

2021 looks likely to be an even more active year for advocacy for open access and open research more widely. It will be very important we don’t lose the momentum of 2020. We thank all our member institutions for their support in 2020 and look forward to working with all our members and supporters on whatever the next year brings us.

Top photo by Kelly Sikkema on Unsplash

Global Open Infrastructure Initiative launched

The AOASG welcomes, and is thrilled to be a part of this exciting new global initiative Invest In Open Infrastructure.

We have been vocal in calling for the need for infrastructure for open scholarship including following the Australian Federal Budget and ahead of the recent Australian election and we hope that this new initiative will provide a further global push for open infrastructure. Workshops and webinars on this initiative are listed here – the first on May 28.

Invest In Open Infrastructure (IOI) is 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, SCOSS, AmeliCA, 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 Europe, SPARC, Mapping the Scholarly Communication Infrastructure, Open Research Funders Group (ORFG), OPERAS, and the Open Platforms Group.

IoI’s 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.

With this announcement, IOI:

As next steps we will be securing funding to support several leadership positions, and will be recruiting in both Europe, the United States and beyond. Prospective candidates or those with recommendations should email info@investinopen.org.

We appreciate the various voices who have shared their perspective about this effort:

Chris Bourg, Director of Libraries, MIT

“With the right infrastructure, created and sustained by and for the scholarly community, we have the potential to fully unleash our cumulative knowledge on solving the world’s greatest challenges and addressing growing information inequality. Global, collective investment in open community owned infrastructure is essential to the future of open science.

Creating a future where ‘enduring, abundant, equitable, and meaningful access to information serves to empower and inspire humanity’ (our vision at MIT Libraries) requires global collaboration and new means of collective investment in infrastructure that reflects and supports the values we hold dear in academia and knowledge-producing communities everywhere.”

Dr. Virginia Barbour, Director Australasian Open Access Strategy Group (AOASG)

“The Australasian Open Access Strategy Group recognises the critical need for sustainable, open infrastructure to support open scholarship. The increasing consolidation of scholarly infrastructure in the hands of commercial organisations poses a substantial threat to the future of open scholarship and its transformative potential, and risks mirroring the position we currently see in the ownership of journals. We therefore welcome the formation of the Invest In Open Infrastructure initiative, supports its aims and look forward to collaborating in future.”

Professor Etienne Ehouan Ehile, Secretary General of the Association of African Universities

“The African Higher Education Institutions and the communities of researchers, scholars, and other global knowledge workers need products, tools and infrastructure to fully enable them to share, discover, and work together. The ownership of the scholarly process and data must remain with the researchers who produce it. The Association of African Universities supports the creation of open infrastructure systems to enable research and knowledge communities to work in more integrated, collaborative and strategic ways.”

David Prosser, Executive Director, RLUK (Research Libraries United Kingdom)

“In the UK we have long recognised the value of open infrastructure for open scholarship — for example, though our long-term funding of resources such as the SHERPA/RoMEO database or Directory of Open Access Journals. However, we also recognise the challenges in building and maintaining these resources in a sustainable manner. As UK funders further refine their open access policies having signed Plan S, open infrastructure becomes ever more important for our authors and institutions. We therefore very much welcome further coordinated efforts to provide the basic underpinnings of a fair and equitable open system of scholarly communications.”

Karina Batthyány, CLACSO’s Executive Secretary, and Dominique Babini, CLACSO’s Open Access Advisor

“The Latin American Council of Social Sciences (CLACSO) — a network of 680 research institutions in 52 countries — welcomes and congratulates the Invest in Open Infrastructure (IOI) initiative. In Latin America, where research and scholarly communications are mainly publicly-funded, community-led, free to read and publish, and has active regional open infrastructures, there is a strong need for international coordination to raise our governments awareness of the need of public investment in open science/open access/open evaluation indicators infrastructures. And global collective investment is needed to strengthen the existing regional initiatives in our region to adapt its infrastructure and procedures to comply with growing demands of open science and evaluation review, and to be able to contribute to the advancement of community-controlled open science infrastructure worldwide.”

David W. Lewis, Dean Emeritus of the IUPUI University Library

“Digital technology, if it is open, has the potential to make the results of research and scholarship freely and easily available to everyone anywhere who wishes to use them. To make this possible requires an open infrastructure to support the discovery, access, evaluation, and preservation of research results. Today the available open infrastructure is underfunded and uncoordinated. It is simply not up to the task. It requires more and wiser investment. This is what the IOI initiative seeks to provide. It is a critical step in creating the system of scholarly communication the world, with all the challenges we face, needs.”

Cameron Neylon, Co-author of the Principles for Open Scholarly Infrastructures

“Infrastructure can be the great leveller. This was our core motivation in writing the Principles, that infrastructure built by the community, for the community, and with broader communities has the potential to solve existing problems, enable new classes of solution, and most importantly create value that is harnessed by the community and stays within it. The IOI initiative is a step towards reshaping what we are capable of in scholarly communications, by enabling the maintenance and building of platforms that enhance our collective capacity to build knowledge.”


There will be a webinar on