Open Scholarship Initiative Provides Recommendations to UNESCO

In the fall of 2019, UNESCO (the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization) obtained official permission from the United Nations General Conference to move forward on developing a roadmap for global open science on behalf of all of the agencies of the United Nations. As noted in the official memorandum, UNESCO was to consult with Member Nations about Open Science with the understanding that, “Should new standard-setting activities be decided, based on lessons learned from previous related experiences and on the ongoing discussions on Open Science, it would be strongly recommended to establish a wide multi-stakeholder consultative mechanism on the topic of Open Science. Such a consultative mechanism should invite the input of all Member States, as well as their scientists’ and young researchers’ communities, academics, intellectuals, and civil societies at large. Such an initiative would require financial means. The process could result in the submission of a standard-setting instrument to the General Conference in 2021” (Page 6). 

The Open Scholarship Initiative, in a process shepherded by Glenn Hampson as Program Director, submitted their recommendations for doing so to UNESCO on May 29, 2020 and shared their recommendations (full text here) with the broader community on June 5, 2020. OSI is managed by the Science Communication Institute (SCI), a US-based 501c3 nonprofit charity and serves in an advisory capacity to UNESCO as the agency’s Network for Open Access to Scientific Information and Research (NOASIR). 

The following has been taken from the executive summary of the 106-page recommendations report to provide the NISO audience with a flavor of the longer document, which is well worth a review. 

OSI has been studying open scholarship (which includes open science) since late 2014, working in partnership with UNESCO to better understand the broad range of perspectives and understand how the world might be better able to make rapid, sustainable progress toward more open research...These findings come by way of several group conferences, supplemented by five years of online debate and reports involving many of the world’s leading experts in scholarly communication. 

The general findings of the OSI group are: 

  • Open scholarship is a tremendously diverse and interconnected space. Reforming it will not be as simple as claiming that open is x, the solution is y, and the path to the future can be enforced by a unilaterally-developed mandate. 

  • The solutions most likely to work and be optimally effective must be developed by all stakeholders working together. 

  • There is ample common ground on which the research community can come together to build an effective framework for global reform.

... the global science community and scholarly communication community should: 

1. EMBRACE the diversity in this space; 

2. IMPROVE our understanding of open science; and 

3. PURSUE our common goals and interests.

OSI’s Plan A—which summarizes OSI’s five years of investigation in this space—can be an instrument to achieve these objectives, or these objectives can be met in some other way.

For an overview of the Open Scholarship Initiative, the reader is directed to their website. The goals of the OSI as laid out on that site are:

  • to build a sustainable, robust framework for direct communication and cooperation among nations, universities, researchers, publishers, funding organizations, scholarly societies, libraries, policy makers, and other scholarly publishing stakeholders, in order to shape the future of scholarly communication, beginning with scholarly publishing and the issues that surround it,

  • to support a climate for finding common understanding and workable solutions, and

  • to help this stakeholder community move toward these solutions together.