As budgets tighten and the need for open resources swells, remaining diligent in our efforts to fund essential Open Science services remains critical
Three months ago, our world was turned upside down. Things went quiet as we tried to find our bearings. Now, we are working to figure out how to move forward.
Watching the global scientific community mobilise these past months – and not always having immediate access to research – made us realise the urgency with which we need to act to make Open the default, and to secure the underlying infrastructure that supports Open Access and Open Science or Scholarship.
Like many others, we have also been struck by how investments in open made over the past two decades have proven their worth in recent weeks. We have observed as researchers began flocking to open resources like GenBank, to share DNA sequences and patents; to the Human Coronaviruses Data Initiative to share tools; and to biorxiv.org or medrxiv.org to upload preprints. The ability to share knowledge rapidly, immediately, has become paramount in the race to develop tests, treatments and a vaccine.
While the funding pinch isn’t consistent across universities and researchers, university systems as a whole are facing more funding challenges ahead -- and this includes academic libraries.
Likewise, strains on current, essential open infrastructure will only intensify if we do not take collective action in this time of unprecedented change.
Taken together, this necessitates a strong, reliable and fully open infrastructure to ensure that the work that we have invested in now, and the investments we make in the future, to serve Open Access, Open Scholarship and Open Science, thrives. What we need to do now is plan to provide an infrastructure and publishing system that is prepared for the crises we are both currently facing and those that lay ahead.
Just two months before COVID-19 became a household name worldwide, SCOSS had launched its second funding cycle; and we were off to a strong start. Now, we are hoping to recapture at least some of that initial momentum.
Four services were selected and thoroughly vetted before being presented to the global community for funding:
The Directory of Open Access Books (DOAB), a digital directory of peer-reviewed Open Access books and Open Access book publishers; and Open Access Publishing in European Networks (OAPEN), a growing repository of freely accessible academic books, crucial for online learning;
The Public Knowledge Project (PKP), an academic project dedicated to improving the quality and reach of scholarly publishing through research, community support services, and the development of free and open source software including Open Journal Systems (OJS), Open Monograph Press (OMP), and Open Preprint Systems (OPS); and
OpenCitations, a scholarly infrastructure organisation that provides open bibliographic and citation data essential for powering discovery.
We understand that we are still a long way from settling into a new normal, and that many of us are facing new challenges and demands on limited resources, but without these services and resources, and many others that comprise our open infrastructure, a fully open research environment will be difficult to achieve. It is crucial that we think ahead and act now to secure research infrastructure that enables fast access to knowledge — for researchers, scholarly and learned societies, teachers, students and all taxpayers alike.
We urge institutions to financially contribute where budgets allow (see funding framework). This enables infrastructure that we consider valuable to continue their good work without the burden of financial concerns hanging over them.
The investments we make today will contribute to a community-owned infrastructure that puts the needs and values of research and access to information first.