A robust and nimble infrastructure is imperative to support the vital work of scholarly communication and effectively and efficiently meet the emerging service needs of different stakeholders. Publishers and other scholarly communication services and providers rely on this shared infrastructure in many key parts of their work, and it forms a foundational part of their technology stack and service framework.
This year, Ithaka S+R has been at work on a project to examine the shared infrastructure for scholarly communication and ultimately make recommendations for its future. STM Solutions provided sponsorship support that made this project possible, for which we express our gratitude. The research and analysis is solely the work of the project team members, and we accept all responsibility for it.
In April, we published a landscape review of the shared scholarly communication infrastructure. This week, we issued a draft of our project report, and we hope you’ll consider reading that draft in the coming weeks and providing us with comments, suggestions, and other feedback by the end of August. Comments, suggestions, and other feedback can be shared with our project team directly at firstname.lastname@example.org through August 31, 2023.
Our project report is currently structured around several principal sections. First, we look at the strategic context for scholarly publishing and its infrastructure, which we see consisting of four primary elements:
- The sector is increasingly identified as a service provider to various groups that produce and consume scholarly information, rather than as primarily the producer and disseminator of copyrighted materials. In the face of alternative publishing models and competition from newer entrants, there is substantial consolidation among traditional publishers.
- The sector’s core goal of facilitating human authorship and readership is giving way to the enablement of machine-to-machine communication.
- Advancing scholarship and science as a trusted global public good is becoming increasingly complicated due to the polarized political and information environment, enhanced attention to academic fraud and misconduct, and growing geopolitical divergences that amplify variations in scholarly communication policies and practices in different geographies.
We have made every effort to shape this strategic context to be representative and broadly inclusive of many different perspectives and we welcome comments and suggestions to that effect.
In our analysis, we dig into several important types of shared infrastructure, including the nature of how such infrastructure is provided and some of the opportunities and challenges faced in each category:
- Identifiers and standards, the tools and systems that make interoperability possible;
- Enterprise publishing systems such as hosting platforms and editorial management systems;
- Discovery, collaboration, and trust, an unsettled category where we believe there is opportunity for innovation and disruption; and
- Preservation, the often unheralded but absolutely vital long-term backstop of the scholarly record.
Finally, we look at several key opportunities for new kinds of shared infrastructure that largely do not yet exist.
- An infrastructure to connect the atomized components of the scholarly record to one another, whether through the version of record or in another way;
- An infrastructure to safeguard the integrity of the scholarly record and ensure it is trustworthy;
- An infrastructure to make meaning from the knowledge that is fragmented within individuals articles and the scholarly process; and
- An infrastructure to support the array of new business models that are providing for open and public access.
We are certain that there are other new categories of shared infrastructure that should be considered and we greatly welcome suggestions to that effect.
Again, here is a link to the draft. We will review all suggestions contributed by the end of August. Looking ahead, we will publish a final version of this report, including recommendations, in October 2023. Again, please click here to access the draft. Comments, suggestions, and other feedback can be shared with our project team directly at email@example.com through August 31, 2023.