The Evolving Scholarly Record, Washington, DC edition


Brian Lavoie, presenting in the GWU International Brotherhood of Teamsters Labor History Research Center

Brian Lavoie, presenting in the GWU International Brotherhood of Teamsters Labor History Research Center

On December 10th, we held our second Evolving Scholarly Record Workshop at George Washington University in Washington, DC (you can read Ricky Erway’s summary of the first workshop, starting here). Many thanks to Geneva Henry and all the staff at GWU for hosting us in the fabulous International Brotherhood of Teamsters Labor History Research Center.This workshop, and others, build on the framework presented in the OCLC Research report, The Evolving Scholarly Record.

Our first speaker, Brian Lavoie (OCLC Research) presented the ESR Framework and put it into context. What is considered part of the record is constantly expanding – for example, blogs and social media, which would previously not have been included. The evolution of how scholarship is recorded, makes it challenging to organize the record in a consistent and reliable ways. The ecosystem of stakeholders is evolving as well. It became clear to Brian and others involved in discussions around the problem space that a framework was necessary in order to support strategic discussions across stakeholders and across domains.

In addition to traditional scholarly outcomes, there are two additional areas of focus, process and aftermath.

Process is what leads up to the publication of the outcomes – in the framework, process is composed of method, evidence and discussion (important because outcomes usually consolidate thanks to discussions with peers). Anchoring outcomes in process will help reproducibility. Scholarly activities continue in aftermath: discussion (including post publication reviews and commentaries), revision (enhancement, clarification), re-use (including repackaging for other audiences).

In the stakeholder ecosystem, the traditional roles (create, fix, collect, use) are being reconfigured. For example, in addition to libraries, service providers like Portico and JSTOR are now important in the collect role. Social media and social storage services, which are entirely outside the academy, are now part of create and use.  New platforms, like figshare, are taking on the roles of fix and collect. The takeaway here? The roles are constant, but the configurations of the stakeholders beneath them are changing.

Our second speaker, Herbert van de Sompel (Los Alamos National Laboratory) gave perspective from the network point of view. His talk was a modified reprise of his presentation at the June OCLC / DANS workshop in Amsterdam, which Ricky nicely summarized in a previous posting. Herbert will also be speaking at our workshop coming up in March, so if you’d like to catch him in action, sign up for that session.

Our third speaker was Geneva Henry (George Washington University) – Geneva represented the view from the campus. We will be posing her viewpoint in a separate blog post, later this week but her remarks touched on the various campus stakeholders in the scholarly record – scholars, media relations, promotion and tenure committee, the office of research, the library.

Daniel Hook (Digital Science), shared his “view from the platform.” (Digital Science is the parent company of several platform services, such as FigShare, AltMetrics, Symplectic Elements, and Overleaf). Daniel stressed the importance in transparency and reproducibility of research – there is a need for a demonstrable pay-off for investors in research. There is a delicate balance to be reached in collaboration versus competition in research. We are in an era of increased collaboration and the “fourth age of research” is marked by international collaboration. Who “owns” research, and the scholarly record? Individual researchers? Their institutions? Evaluation of research increasingly calls for demonstrating impact of research. Identifiers are glue – identifiers for projects, for researchers, for institutions. The future will be in dynamically making assertions of value and impact across institutions, and to build confidence in those assertions.

Finally Clifford Lynch (Coalition for Networked Information) gave some additional remarks, highlighting stress points. Potentially, the scholarly record is huge, especially with an expanded range of media and channels. The minutes of science are recording every minute, year in year out. Selection issues are challenging, to say the least. Is it sensible to consider keeping everything?  Cliff called for hard questions to be asked, and for studies to be done. Some formats seem to be overlooked — video, for example.

We concluded the meeting with a number of break-out sessions that took up focused topics. The groups came back with tons of notes, and also some possible “next steps” or actions that could be taken to move us forward. Those included.

  • Promulgating name identifiers and persistent IDs for use by other stakeholders
  • Focusing on research centers and subject/disciplinary repositories to see what kinds of relationships are needed
  • Mining user studies/reviews to pull out research needs/methods/trends/gaps and find touch-points to the library
  • Following the money in the ESR ecosystem to see whether there are disconnects between shareholder interests and scholar value
  • Pursuing with publishers whether they will collect the appropriate contextual processes and aftermaths
  • Investigating funding, ROI, and financial tradeoffs
  • Getting involved during the grant planning processes so that materials flow to the right places instead of needing to be rescued after the fact

Thanks to all of our participants, but particularly to our hosts, our speakers, our notetakers and those who helped record the event on Twitter. We’re looking forward to another productive workshop in Chicago (in March) and then expect to culminate the three workshops at the ESR workshop in San Francisco (in June) where we’ll focus on how we can collaboratively move things forward to do our best to ensure stewardship of the scholarly record now and into the future.

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