On November 30 2023, SCOSS organised a webinar with the theme ‘Building connections’. The session aimed to reflect on how SCOSS infrastructures have progressed, what the case for open infrastructure is and gave the opportunity to meet some of the SCOSS Board who shared their visions for the future.
SCOSS infrastructures – stronger together
Over the past five years, over 10 open infrastructures have received support from a wide range of research organisations around the globe. These include arXiv, DOAB/OAPEN, DOAJ, DSpace, Dryad, LA Referencia, OpenCitations, PKP, Redalyc/AmeliCA and ROR. The infrastructures range from registries for open access journals and books, metadata infrastructure, and infrastructure for repositories, and open access publishing.
In the webinar, each infrastructure highlighted what services they offer to the community, how they are connected, and what they have achieved with SCOSS funding to date. For example, Redalyc mentioned the use of SCOSS to improve their technical infrastructure, which in turn contributes to the sustainability of their services. DOAB/OAPEN highlighted the importance of the many collaborations with other organizations in the open book ecosystem, and ROR showed how its identifiers are used in research workflows, benefiting many other organizations.
This series of fast-paced, 5-minute presentations illustrated the strength and importance of an open infrastructure ecosystem – where the whole is more than the sum of its parts, and where investing in one or more services or infrastructures means investing in common, shared, global, open infrastructure that the world can benefit from.
Collective advocacy – talking points
Over the past year, the SCOSS infrastructures also worked on collective advocacy, formulating four compelling arguments why open infrastructure is important and should receive sustainable funding.
First, open infrastructures are accountable to their communities, not to shareholders, which means that both the scope and scale of infrastructure are responsive to community needs. They don’t necessarily have to or want to do ‘everything’, but do a few things really well.
Second, open infrastructures add balance to a system often dominated by commercial actors, offering institutions and funders a real alternative to (re)invest in improving and sustaining a non-profit, open scholarly infrastructure ecosystem.
Third, open infrastructures are interoperable, building a network of open information. This can build powerful integrations between infrastructures that make workflows more efficient. In this way, open infrastructures drive innovation within scholarly publishing by being open, and both the not-for-profit and profit sectors can benefit.
Finally, open infrastructures are often transparent in terms of finances and governance, certainly in the case of the SCOSS infrastructures. Such transparency is expected by the community, and together with a commitment to be open about values, goals and mission, this means that there is a deeper level of self-assessment and awareness of actions and strategy within the open infrastructures. Many infrastructures have, for example, done self-assessment against the Principles of Open Scholarly Infrastructure (POSI). Transparency generates trust among institutions and funders who want to invest in and support open infrastructures.
Importantly, these four advocacy points are all connected, together making a strong case for sustaining open infrastructure. Depending on the audience and goals, specific points may resonate more with one than another and these points can be adapted and utilised in our advocacy efforts for open infrastructure.
The SCOSS Board – future directions
The webinar ended with a panel discussion where a number of SCOSS Board members discussed how to sustain, develop and strengthen the SCOSS model. Panel members were Susan Haigh from the Canadian Association of Research Libraries (CARL), Iryna Kuchma from EIFL, Ignasi Labastida from the University of Barcelona, Jean-Francois Lutz, advisor to the Ministry of Higher Education, Research and Innovation, France and Judy Ruttenberg from the Association of Research Libraries (ARL).
Reflecting on the growth of SCOSS, the important role of library consortia in planning and organising support was mentioned, as well as how SCOSS helps bring visibility not just to individual infrastructures, but to an open ecosystem as a whole. Looking forward, emphasis was put on the importance of providing a good overview of that ecosystem. While SCOSS aims to be global, most pledges originate from the Global North. It is important to connect with communities in the Global South as well, and go beyond just monetary connections to foster collaboration and community involvement in open infrastructures. Importantly, the new infrastructures participating in SCOSS (Research Data Alliance and Software Heritage) are strong examples of communities with a global reach. Their inclusion in SCOSS emphasizes the importance of social infrastructure in addition to technical infrastructure.
Finally, the panellists discussed the need to convince institutions to financially support open infrastructures. The example was given of the French National Fund for Open Science – which funds (obviously) mainly French research projects, but also International infrastructures. There is an important role for SCOSS in identifying infrastructures needing funding, and for libraries and their consortia in putting these discussions on the agenda, in the library but also within their institutions more broadly.
In addition, SCOSS will also reach out to other types of organisations, in particular research funders, to encourage financial support of open infrastructures since they are helping implement the Open policies they set and serve many researchers and Open Science communities across the world.
The webinar can be viewed in full here: SCOSS Family Webinar 2023
If you only have time for 1 hour, please watch the first hour to see how the world’s infrastructures are growing through community collective funding.
If you are interested in supporting any of the SCOSS infrastructures, please contact them directly: https://scoss.org/how-it-works/current-funding-calls/