Evolving Scholarly Record workshop (Part 1)

This is the first of three posts about the The Evolving Scholarly Record and the Evolving Stewardship Ecosystem workshop held on 10 June 2014 in Amsterdam.

OCLC Research staff observed that while there are a lot of discussions about changes in the scholarly record, the discussions are fragmented. They set out to provide a high-level framework to facilitate future discussion. That work is represented in our Evolving Scholarly Record report and formed the basis for an international workshop.

The workshop explored the boundaries of the scholarly record and the curation roles of various stakeholders. Participants from nine countries included OCLC Research Partners and Data Archiving and Networked Services (DANS) community members with a mission for collecting, making available and preserving the scholarly record. They gathered to explore the responsibilities of research libraries, data archives, and other stewards of research output in creating a reliable ecosystem for preserving the scholarly record and making it accessible. Presentation slides, photos, and videos from the workshop are available.

There is a vast amount of digital research information in need of curation. Currently, libraries are reconceiving their roles regarding stewardship and curation, but it is obvious that libraries and archives are not the only stakeholders in the emerging ecosystem. Scholarly practices and the landscape of information services around them are undergoing significant change. Scholars embrace digital and networked technologies, inventing and experimenting with new forms of scholarship, and perceptions are changing about the long-term value of various forms of scholarly information. Libraries and other stewardship organizations are redefining their tasks as guides to and guardians of research information. Open access policies, funder requirements, and new venues for scholarly communication are blurring the roles of the various stakeholders, including commercial publishers, governmental entities, and universities. Digital information is being curated in different ways and at different places, but some of it is not curated at all. There is a real danger of losing the integrity of the scholarly record. The impact of changes in digital scholarship requires a collective effort among the variety of stakeholders.

The workshop discussion began with an overview of the OCLC Research report, The Evolving Scholarly Record. Ricky Erway (Senior Program Officer, OCLC Research) outlined the framework that OCLC created to facilitate discussions of our evolving stewardship roles in the broader ecosystem. She said that the boundaries of the scholarly record are always evolving, but a confluence of trends is accelerating the evolutionary process. Ricky emphasized that the framework does not attempt to describe scholarly processes nor encompass scholarly communication. The framework focuses on the “stuff” or the units of communication that become part of the scholarly record — and, for the purposes of the workshop, how that stuff will be stewarded going forward.

The framework has at its center what has traditionally been the payload, research outcomes, but it is a deeper and more complete record of scholarly inquiry with greater emphasis on context (process & aftermath).

Evolving Scholarly Record Framework - OCLC Research
Evolving Scholarly Record Framework – OCLC Research

Process has three parts:

  • Method – lab notebooks, computer models, protocols
  • Evidence – datasets, primary source documents, survey results
  • Discussion – proposal reviews, preprints, conference presentations

Outcomes include traditional articles and monographs, but also simulations, performances, and a growing variety of other “end products”

Aftermath has three parts:

  • Discussion – this time after the fact: reviews, commentary, online exchanges
  • Revision – can include the provision of additional findings, corrections, and clarifications
  • Reuse – might involve summaries, conference presentations, and popular media versions

Nothing is fixed. For example, in some fields, a conference presentation may be the outcome, in others it is used to inform the outcome, and in others it may amplify the outcome to reach new audiences. And those viewing the scholarly record will see the portions pertinent to their purpose. The framework document addresses traditional stakeholder roles (create, fix, collect, and use) and how they are being combined in new ways. Workshop attendees were encouraged to use the framework as they discussed the changing scholarly record and the increasingly distributed ecosystem of custodial responsibility.

Part 2 will feature views from Natasa Miliç-Frayling, Principal Researcher at Microsoft Research Cambridge, UK and Herbert Van de Sompel, Scientist, Los Alamos National Laboratory.