What is the relationship between the commons and open access publishing? – Samuel Moore

“Why is there an association between open access publishing and ‘the commons’? What is it about the two concepts that implies they are linked? I’m currently researching the relationship between the commons and OA, looking specifically at the application of the literature of the former to our understanding of the latter, and it is not immediately obvious why the two are so connected.

This is an important question because there is a rich and varied literature on the commons that is often elided within the commentary on open access, even though the commons is so frequently deployed as a concept within the discussion on OA. While I do feel that the term can be useful for understanding open access publishing, it is worth exploring a few instances of the commons that I feel require further clarification to be helpful….”

Governance of a global genetic resource commons for non-commercial research: A case-study of the DNA barcode commons

Abstract:  Life sciences research that uses genetic resources is increasingly collaborative and global, yet collective action remains a significant barrier to the creation and management of shared research resources. These resources include sequence data and associated metadata, and biological samples, and can be understood as a type of knowledge commons. Collective action by stakeholders to create and use knowledge commons for research has potential benefits for all involved, including minimizing costs and sharing risks, but there are gaps in our understanding of how institutional arrangements may promote such collective action in the context of global genetic resources. We address this research gap by examining the attributes of an exemplar global knowledge commons: The DNA barcode commons. DNA barcodes are short, standardized gene regions that can be used to inexpensively identify unknown specimens, and proponents have led international efforts to make DNA barcodes a standard species identification tool. Our research examined if and how attributes of the DNA barcode commons, including governance of DNA barcode resources and management of infrastructure, facilitate global participation in DNA barcoding efforts. Our data sources included key informant interviews, organizational documents, scientific outputs of the DNA barcoding community, and DNA barcode record submissions. Our research suggested that the goal of creating a globally inclusive DNA barcode commons is partially impeded by the assumption that scientific norms and expectations held by researchers in high income countries are universal. We found scientific norms are informed by a complex history of resource misappropriation and mistrust between stakeholders. DNA barcode organizations can mitigate the challenges caused by its global membership through creating more inclusive governance structures, developing norms for the community are specific to the context of DNA barcoding, and through increasing awareness and knowledge of pertinent legal frameworks.

The Scholarly Commons: The Serials Librarian: Vol 0, No 0

Abstract:  Maryann Martone, neuroscientist and Professor Emerita at the University of California, San Diego, is the former president of FORCE11, a community of scholars, librarians, archivists, publishers, and research funders seeking to change the way we share access to knowledge and research. Her presentation introduced the idea of the Scholarly Commons, from its conception at a FORCE meeting to its future potential. The Scholarly Commons is a new system for scholarly communication, which seeks to meet the needs of today’s researchers by reinventing the system from the ground up, committing to making its contents open, FAIR (Findable, Accessible, Interoperable, and Reusable), and citable.

Learning to manage academic resources as common property

Nearly thirty years ago, Elinor Ostrom published her groundbreaking book Governing the Commons, in which she showed that users of natural and agricultural resources can and do govern such resources themselves. They do not have to rely on hierarchical state or corporate regulation, nor on a pricing mechanism to overcome the collective action problems that may arise. By setting up rules together, and monitoring compliance with these rules, commoners are able to manage resources themselves. Ostrom also extended her work on commons governance to knowledge commons.

Sharing resources, such as data, methods, publications, and the curriculum, is one of the foundations of university education and development. But today many academic resources such as subscriptions and the syllabus are managed in a rigid, bureaucratic way. Many users and producers of resources and knowledge lack the opportunity to express their wishes and highlight alternatives.
This workshop will introduce you to the issues, the concepts, and successful examples of governing common resources. You will be involved in applying the concept of commons to concrete cases relevant to academia and knowledge creation, not just by listening, but by doing, together.

Questions: If we want to become decision makers of our shared resources, what do we need to learn? Which tools do we need? What rights are we missing?
Take away: We develop a clearer understanding of how to increase resource control among the academic community. We understand better how that has been done by others. We know where we should start and what steps to follow.
Effort: To learn together how the lessons from the commons can help academics in their  work. To share and discuss what we and others can do right now. To sketch a roadmap that show us the way forward….”

Open Access Policy in the UK: From Neoliberalism to the Commons | hc:23661 | Humanities CORE

Abstract:  This thesis makes a contribution to the knowledge of open access through a historically and theoretically informed account of contemporary open access policy in the UK (2010–15). It critiques existing policy by revealing the influence of neoliberal ideology on its creation, and proposes a commons-based approach as an alternative. The historical context in Chapters 2 and 3 shows that access to knowledge has undergone numerous changes over the centuries and the current push to increase access to research, and political controversies around this idea, are part of a long tradition. The exploration of the origins and meanings of ‘openness’ in Chapter 4 enriches the understanding of open access as a concept and makes possible a more nuanced critique of specific instantiations of open access in later chapters. The theoretical heart of the thesis is Chapter 5, in which neoliberalism is analysed with a particular focus on neoliberal conceptions of liberty and openness. The subsequent examination of neoliberal higher education in Chapter 6 is therefore informed by a thorough grounding in the ideology that underlies policymaking in the neoliberal era. This understanding then acts as invaluable context for the analysis of the UK’s open access policy in Chapter 7. By highlighting the neoliberal aspects of open access policy, the political tensions within open access advocacy are shown to have real effects on the way that open access is unfolding. Finally, Chapter 8 proposes the commons as a useful theoretical model for conceptualising a future scholarly publishing ecosystem that is free from neoliberal ideology. An argument is made that a commons-based open access policy is possible, though must be carefully constructed with close attention paid to the power relations that exist between different scholarly communities.

AmeliCA vs Plan S: Same target, two different strategies to achieve Open Access. – AmeliCA

On 4 September 2018, a group of national research funding organizations, with the support of the European Commission and the European Research Council (ERC), announced the launch of COAlition S, an initiative to make full and immediate Open Access (OA) to research publications a reality. It is built around Plan S, which consists of one target and 10 principles (Science Europe, 2019). The target is:

“By 2020 scientific publications that result from research funded by public grants provided by participating national and European research councils and funding bodies, must be published in compliant Open Access Journals or on compliant Open Access Platforms. “

At the same time but in another region of the world AmeliCA was brewing, the extension of REDALYC’s philosophy, knowledge and technology to the Global South (Becerril-Garcia & Aguado-Lopez, 2018). AmeliCA is a multi-institutional community-driven initiative supported by UNESCO that arises in response to the international, regional, national and institutional contexts of Open Access, which seeks a collaborative, sustainable, protected and non-commercial solution for Open Knowledge in Latin America and the Global South (AmeliCA, 2018). This institution of Commons was launched at the Conference of CLACSO on November 21, 2018, in the “UNESCO Special Forum: Democratization of academic knowledge. The challenges for open access to knowledge. “

 

The fight to keep ideas open to all – Open Voices

The internet has dramatically lowered the cost of copying, including illicit copying. When the web was first weaved in the 1990s, intellectual-property owners found their property had, involuntarily, been turned into a common. Strong new copyright rules and draconian enforcement seemed to be necessary to tame the rebellious digital commoners and reclaim the level of control that had existed in an analogue world. 

These arguments found a receptive audience among policymakers worldwide, and copyright’s scope, duration and penalties were dramatically expanded.  Over the past two decades new legal rights have allowed “digital fences” to be used to surround copyrighted works, even if those fences interfered with people’s rights, such as to freely use snippets of content (the legal doctrine of “fair dealing,” known as “fair use” in America). Copyright’s restrictions were also misused to curtail competition, block research on cryptography and produce new online monopolies. Again, the “solution” to the tragedy of the commons—property rights—came with hefty costs.

You could consider the growing restrictions around intellectual property as “the second enclosure movement”. The first enclosures were the centuries-long waves of expropriation of English and Scottish common lands, turning them over to a handful of landowners….

Yet just as Hardin’s argument met with pushback from Ostrom and others in the physical context, there has also been powerful intellectual resistance to the second enclosure movement.  Most notably, some of the problems of the terrestrial commons do not apply to the intangible versions: it is hard to overfish an idea….

Consider open-source software. It is precisely because the licence guarantees that the commons will remain open, and that each new contribution will be shared under the same terms, that people can commit to using it. Imagine trying to get phone manufacturers to use the Android operating system if Google could take it private at any time….

Furthermore, the proliferation of property rights has its costs. The American legal scholars Michael Heller and Rebecca Eisenberg call it the “anti-commons”: the idea that innovation withers because of too many property rights, patent thickets, exhaustive and exhausting copyright licensing procedures and the like. To take one example, the smartphone in your pocket is covered by between 5,000 and 15,000 patents, and potentially by as many as 250,000 when all related patents are counted. …”

From coalition to commons: Plan S and the future of scholarly communication | Zenodo

“The announcement of Plan S in September 2018 has triggered a wide-ranging debate over how best to accelerate the shift to open access. The Plan’s ten principles represent a call for the creation of an intellectual commons, to be brought into being through collective action by funders and managed through regulated market mechanisms. As it gathers both momentum and critics, the coalition must grapple with questions of equity, efficiency and sustainability. The work of Elinor Ostrom has shown that successful management of the commons frequently relies on polycentricity and adaptive governance. The Plan S principles must therefore function as an overarching framework within which local actors retain some autonomy, and should remain open to amendment as the scholarly communication landscape evolves….”

The ‘Care-full’ Commons: Open Access and the Care of Commoning | scholarly skywritings

“Talk given to the Radical Open Access 2 Conference in Coventry, 27 June 2018 as part of a panel on the commons and care. The talk was published as part of a pamphlet alongside pieces by Joe Deville and Tahani Nadim: https://hcommons.org/deposits/item/hc:19817/

Introduction ‘

The commons’ is a term routinely employed by advocates of open access publishing to describe the ideal scholarly publishing ecosystem, one comprised entirely of freely available journal articles, books, data and code. Usually undefined, advocates invoke the commons as a good-in-itself, governed by the scholarly community and publicly accessible to all. The term itself is not associated with an identifiable politico-economic ideology, nor does it entail any particular form of organisation or practice. Without further justification, the term ‘commons’ has little meaning beyond referring to the various degrees of community control and/or accessibility associated with certain resources. This paper will illustrate some of the uses (and abuses) of the commons in scholarly publishing, aiming to highlight both the ambiguity of the term and some of the drawbacks of treating the commons as fixed and static entity focused on the production and management of shared resources, as many do. While it certainly relates to resources and their governance, I want to reposition the commons – or ‘commoning’ specifically – as a practice of cultivating and caring for the relationships that exist around the production of shared resources. In reorienting the commons in this way, I will show how an attitude of commoning extends beyond the commons site itself and into the relationships present in other forms of organisation also. This allows us to reposition the commons towards a shared, emancipatory horizon while maintaining the need for a plurality of commons-based practices in publishing and beyond. A progressive and emancipatory commons, I argue, is therefore a space of ‘care-full commoning’….”

Commons In A Box

“Commons In A Box (CBOX) is a free software project aimed at turning the infrastructure that successfully powers the CUNY Academic Commons into a free, distributable, easy-to-install package. Commons In A Box is a project of the City University of New York and the Graduate Center, CUNY and is made possible by a generous grant from the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation.

CBOX takes the complexity out of creating a Commons site, helping organizations create a space where their members can discuss issues, collaborate on projects, and share their work. CBOX also provides:

  • Out-of-the-box functionality with an intuitive set-up that guides site administrators through each step of installation.
  • A powerful, responsive, highly customizable theme developed for community engagement, based on PressCrew’s Infinity Theming Engine.
  • Responsive design for easy viewing on many devices, including tablets and smartphones.
  • Collaborative document creation and file sharing.
  • Reply-By-Email functionality for quick, on-the-go communication.
  • Compatibility with many other WordPress and BuddyPress themes and plug-ins.
  • Expansive wiki options….”