Today we are announcing 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, 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.
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.
With this announcement, IOI:
- Calls for feedback on our aims and goals, which today are posted on our website at investinopen.org.
- Invites you to add your institution’s support for this initiative.
- Invites you to contribute to the Census of Scholarly Communication Infrastructure.
- Invites you to join one of our scheduled webinars which will provide a deeper dive on IOI.
- Asks that you subscribe to receive further information if you’re interested.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
We appreciate the various voices who have shared their perspective about this effort:
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.”
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.”
Arianna Becerril-García, Co-founder and Executive Director, Redalyc, Chair, AmeliCA
“It is time to join forces and make heard the voice of all the actors who have worked to build an alternative to the commercial model of scholarly publication that is currently asphyxiating science, discovery and collaboration. Achieving an open, non-commercial, sustainable, protected Open Science solution will have to be accompanied by the transformation of research assessment and the strengthening of infrastructure.
Investing in the creation of common infrastructure for Open Science has the potential to reverse the prevailing model of scientific communication — that has failed to be participatory and inclusive — to take back control of the scientific communication circuit to the academic community. In Latin America there are platforms that work for this purpose: Latindex, CLACSO, Redalyc, AmeliCA and hundreds of universities and academic institutions sustaining scholarly publishing as an act of communication and dialogue for the benefit of society. The launching of IOI is a reason for celebration and impulse to continue working for our shared values. We are delighted to be part of this initiative.”
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.”
Leslie Chan, Centre for Critical Development Studies, University of Toronto Scarborough
“Amidst debates about the costs and the funding for open access, the far more fundamental question about the control, governance, and sustainability of scholarly infrastructure has been largely neglected. Infrastructure is a powerful enabler, but it also limits or constraints what’s possible. It is therefore highly essential that we design infrastructure from the start with the broad interests of the community in mind, rather than allowing the profit driven and privately controlled infrastructure to manufacture demands and create dependency on their services. IOI represents a convergence of diverse stakeholders, collective energies, and a shared vision of a common framework for open infrastructure built by the community for the community. It will create new thinkings about sustainability, about openness, about community governance, and about collective actions. It is incredibly exciting to be part of this groundbreaking initiative!”
Raym Crow, Senior Consultant, SPARC
“Realizing the potential of community-supported open infrastructure will require coordinated development strategies and the collective support of academic institutions and their libraries. Invest in Open Infrastructure provides an effective framework within which SPARC can collaborate to advance the design and implementation of practical, large-scale collective models to fund open infrastructure.”
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.”
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.”
Heather Joseph, Executive Director, SPARC
“At SPARC, we’re committed to making ‘open’ the default for research and education. This means making sure not only that research outputs are made openly available, but also that the infrastructure needed to produce, share, and fully use the knowledge created by the global scholarly community is designed to support this aim as well. The IOI (‘Invest in Open Infrastructure’) initiative aims to provide collective support for developing and sustaining open infrastructure to ensure that it operates in ways that are aligned with the values of the scholarly community it serves. We’re delighted to join with our colleagues around the world to support this important and timely initiative, and to celebrate its official launch today.”
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.”
Pierre Mounier, Coordinator of OPERAS
“There is clearly a fragmentation of scholarly communication services, as evidenced by Jeroen Bosman and Bianca Kramer’s work with 101 Innovations project. Transforming a set of patchy services into a steady and sustainable infrastructure is a challenge that has not been overcome yet. As we try to tackle it for social sciences and humanities in Europe with OPERAS, we see IOI as a natural continuation of our work on a larger scale. But here lies another challenge: the globalization of scholarly communication in the context of open science can be a threat to the diversity of academic practices under the domination of a single model. That’s why I appreciate a lot that IOI group was made from the very beginning of people coming from different continents, cultures, disciplinary backgrounds and I am confident that this diversity in the group will fuel a really inclusive conversation globally about what we expect from a scholarly communication infrastructure and how we should fund it.”
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.”
Lucy Ofiesh, Center for Open Science
“IOI was established as the logical evolution of a series of open infrastructure projects, that together, have the capacity to realize a new future for global scholarship. The power of IOI is in each group’s distinct expertise paired with a shared vision to improve research and accelerate discovery.”
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.”
Vanessa Proudman, Director, SPARC Europe
Sustaining Open Science infrastructure has been a priority for SPARC Europe for several years now, demonstrated through SCOSS. We are proud to be part of IOI: an ambitious collaborative initiative that intends to positively impact the way we fund, develop and maintain open infrastructure across the globe. We need to build an infrastructure system that promotes independence and diversity as well as integration to offer optimal services built on common strategic decisions. A system that is governed by — and has the oversight of — the community it serves. One that the community can rely on and one that funders trust in investing in. As a result, we hope that IOI will help create a more coordinated and above all stable Open Science infrastructure in years to come to underpin making Open Science the default. We look forward to shaping this important initiative together with our colleagues and the scholarly communications community across all continents.
Kristen Ratan, CoFounder, Coko
“For open infrastructure to support global scholarship, research and education, we need a thriving network of open source builders, services, and solutions providers. This can create a new open economy that is sustainable and breeds innovation. The IOI is a crucial step in making this vision a reality by being a clearinghouse of information and resources as well as a channel for funding and long term support.”
Danielle Robinson, President and Co-Executive Director of Code for Science & Society
“For the future of global scholarship, the scholarly process must be locked open. IOI brings together initiatives united by common values and building community-driven projects to do just that. Through this formal alignment we have a unique opportunity to sustain the infrastructure that can serve the global research community.”
Mike Roy, Dean of the Library, Middlebury College
“We have all known for years the problems with our current ‘system’ of scholarly communication. Still, no obvious path forward has yet emerged to enable the scholarly community to regain control over this system, and to take advantage of the power of networked information to deliver on its promises to support the work of research and education in the service of improving the world and addressing the world’s most pressing challenges. IOI represents a practical way forward: visionary, global, inclusive, grass roots, and informed by lessons learned in working in this area for decades.”
Katherine Skinner, Executive Director, Educopia Institute
“The emergence of the ‘Invest in Open Infrastructure’ effort marks a significant maturation point in our field. After decades of focus on innovation and growth, we are finally able to shift our primary attention away from supporting the efforts of individual scholarly communication tools, services, and platforms, and towards the cultivation of an aligned, operational, and well-maintained aligned field of practice. This initiative’s focus on coordination, measurement, and impact will be instrumental in defining and supporting a global system of community-driven scholarly communication infrastructure.”
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 than ever before, all are to equally benefit from good-quality research supported by existing and future open infrastructure services.”
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.”
Greg Tananbaum, Project Coordinator, Open Research Funders Group (ORFG)
“The Open Research Funders Group (ORFG) is pleased to support the launch of Invest In Open Infrastructure (IOI). As philanthropies committed to the open sharing of research outputs, we welcome this initiative that aims to coordinate the creation and ongoing development of open source tools that facilitate open scholarship, research, and education. The ORFG is fully supportive of the IOI’s long-term mission to create a shared, open, and interoperable infrastructure for enabling 21st-century scholarly communications. We look forward to working with IOI to develop a framework to track relevant activities, facilitate coordination across projects, and identify areas for wise strategic investment.”
Evviva Weinraub, Associate University Librarian, Northwestern University
“Cultural heritage and scientific institutes are tasked with creating and preserving the intellectual output of humanity. We are tasked with not just saving, these objects, but making them findable, usable, and reusable. Investment in Open Infrastructure is a necessary step to support global scholarship, research and education. The IOI is a practical and crucial step in making it possible for us to deliver on our commitments, while creating a global, inclusive, distributed, interconnected infrastructure to support global knowledge creation and dissemination.”
Dan Whaley, CEO, Hypothesis
“Entrepreneurs who are inspired to solve problems in scholarly infrastructure by creating innovative, durable open projects face nearly insurmountable challenges in finding startup funding and sustaining income to do so. If we can lower the barriers for projects like these, we will inspire a new generation of passionate builders to help us create the infrastructure we’ll need to move open science and scholarship forward.
I am overwhelmed by the support and solidarity that we’ve had from an extraordinary range of organizations, institutions, foundations and individuals in forming Invest in Open Infrastructure. It’s clear that the time is now for a coordinated global effort to tackle this problem.”
Maurice York, Associate University Librarian for IT, University of Michigan Library
“Libraries and archives are charged with taking the long view, with respect to the care and stewardship of human knowledge. We think not only in terms of decades, but hundreds of years. Our buildings are more than concrete and glass — they are infrastructure that visibly trumpets a deep commitment to the durability and longevity of the objects that carry the physical record of knowledge and culture. In the digital realm, the equivalent infrastructure to support open scholarship — to safeguard public knowledge in the public interest — cannot be built or owned or governed by any one player, but only through the collective efforts of the many communities and collaborative projects that are actively creating it all over the world. IOI is an essential step forward in putting a pillar of sustainability under community-owned infrastructure and stimulating a global consciousness and coherence that is crucial to our shared mission, to the scholars of today, and to the scholars of the future.”