“‘Threat infrastructures’ are platforms that are established or promised to be established solely or primarily in order to change the behavior of incumbent initiatives through fear. In recent years, such platforms have featured heavily in the scholarly communications landscape and have been driven primarily by funders pushing for open access. Examples include The Wellcome Trust’s Wellcome Open Research, the Gates Foundation’s Gates Open Research, and the European Commission’s Open Research Europe. Threat infrastructures are also a core mechanisms within cOAlition S’s ‘Plan S’ document (cOAlition S, 2018).
Such threat infrastructures are part of an encroaching structure of ‘platformization’, as Penny C. Andrews has it (2020) in the field of platform studies (Bogost & Montfort, 2009; Schweizer, 2010; van Dijck, 2013), in which the control of underlying infrastructures is becoming ever more important in the scholarly communications world. In this piece I outline why this framing of threat infrastructures is helpful; I document some recent cases of the development and use of threat infrastructures; I show the challenges of infrastructural governance and corporate ownership of such platforms; and I close with some remarks on the efficacy of a theory of change driven by such threats….”