Today, we share the preliminary findings from our investigation into defining open scholarly infrastructure. This investigation is a step towards building a shared vision for what an ecosystem of open systems and services looks like that supports research and scholarly communication. We invite you to comment on the report, by 3 May 2022.

For this report, we examined a body of literature that includes works across the fields of anthropology, scholarly communications, international development studies, science and technology studies, and infrastructure studies. In particular, we paid close attention to how other efforts, including the Principles of Open Scholarly Infrastructure (POSI), the Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition (SPARC), Educopia Institute, the 2.5% Commitment initiative, the Scholarly Communication Technology Catalogue (SComCaT), the UNESCO Recommendations on Open Science and the Global Sustainability Coalition for Open Science Services (SCOSS), have defined “scholarly infrastructure’ and “open scholarly infrastructure”.

We synthesised the characteristics and dimensions defined in the literature we reviewed — paying particular attention to overarching themes and points of contention.

Our main takeaways:

  1. Infrastructure serves a function.
  2. Infrastructure is a socio-technical system rather than a technical product.
  3. Infrastructure is dynamic.
  4. Infrastructure operates at different scales, both temporally and spatially.
  5. Infrastructure is not neutral.

From this synthesis, we identified practical considerations IOI should make when conducting its investigations into open infrastructure for research and scholarship.

This preliminary report outlines IOI’s initial attempt toward a more sophisticated framework for understanding open infrastructure for research and scholarship. We are releasing this in a preliminary form for public questions, comments, and feedback. Your input will strengthen this work, advance a shared understanding of infrastructure, and lay foundations for our research and case-making work moving forward.

Please leave your questions, comments and suggestions directly in the report.

The comment period closes on 3 May 2022, and we hope to publish the final report towards the beginning of June.

This framework of understanding lays the groundwork for assessing the needs of infrastructure services and builds a positive vision for what an infrastructure of open systems and services looks like that supports research and scholarly communication. It also informs the design of our research methods for examining open infrastructure across varying projects, e.g. the Costs of Open Infrastructure project.

If you have any private questions or comments regarding this report, please contact info [at] investinopen [dot] org.

Social media image by Joshua Hoehne on Unsplash, shared under the Unsplash license.

Posted by Emmy Tsang