Commons Praxis: Toward a Critical Political Economy of the Digital Commons

Author : Benjamin J Birkinbine

The concept of the commons has provided a useful framework for understanding a wide range of resources and cultural activities associated with the creation of value outside of the traditional market mechanisms under capitalism (i.e., private property, rational self-interest, and profit maximization).

However, these communities often continue to intersect with capital and the state attempts to appropriate their resources. Recent scholarship has sought to unpack some of the contradictions inherent in the claims made about the revolutionary potential of the commons by offering conceptual frameworks for assessing commons-based projects.

This paper builds upon this research by developing a two-pronged argument. First, by drawing examples from the free software movement, I argue that critical political economy provides the most useful analytical framework for understanding the contradictions inherent in the relationship between capital and the commons. Second, I argue for a commons praxis that attempts to overcome some of these contradictions.

Within this discussion, I build on the notion of ‘boundary commoning’ to understand organisational form, and I develop the concept of ‘subversive commoning’ for understanding various forms of commoning that seek to undermine the capitalist logics of the digital commons.

URL : Commons Praxis: Toward a Critical Political Economy of the Digital Commons

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Collectivity and collaboration: imagining new forms of communality to create resilience in scholar-led publishing

Authors : Janneke Adema, Samuel A. Moore

The Radical Open Access Collective (ROAC) is a community of scholar-led, not-for-profit presses, journals and other open access (OA) projects. The collective promotes a progressive vision for open access based on mutual alliances between the 45+ member presses and projects seeking to offer an alternative to commercial and legacy models of publishing.

This article presents a case study of the collective, highlighting how it harnesses the strengths and organizational structures of not-for-profit, independent and scholar-led publishing communities by 1) further facilitating collective efforts through horizontal alliances, and by 2) enabling vertical forms of collaboration with other agencies and organizations within scholarly publishing.

It provides a background to the origins of the ROAC, its members, its publishing models on display and its future plans, and highlights the importance of experimenting with and promoting new forms of communality in not-for-profit OA publishing.

URL : Collectivity and collaboration: imagining new forms of communality to create resilience in scholar-led publishing


Ouverture et partage des résultats de la recherche dans l’économie de la connaissance européenne : Quelle(s) liberté(s) de circulation pour l’IST?

Auteur/Author : Hans Dillaerts

Au cours de ces dix dernières années, il y a un engagement croissant de l’Union européenne en faveur de l’innovation ouverte, le libre accès et la science ouverte. Notre objectif au sein de cet article est de s’interroger sur les origines de ces politiques et d’en retracer les évolutions et les limites.

L’objectif de cette analyse est également de mettre en avant les injonctions contradictoires que subissent aujourd’hui les chercheurs en matière de publication et de diffusion de l’information scientifique et technique à travers entre autres les problématiques et questionnements liés à la brevetabilité des résultats de recherche financés sur des fonds publics.


Ethnic Diversity Increases Scientific Impact

Authors : Bedoor K AlShebli, Talal Rahwan, Wei Lee Woon

Inspired by the numerous social and economic benefits of diversity, we analyze over 9 million papers and 6 million scientists spanning 24 fields of study, to understand the relationship between research impact and five types of diversity, reflecting (i) ethnicity, (ii) discipline, (iii) gender, (iv) affiliation and (v) academic age.

For each type, we study group diversity (i.e., the heterogeneity of a paper’s set of authors) and individual diversity (i.e., the heterogeneity of a scientist’s entire set of collaborators). Remarkably, of all the types considered, we find that ethnic diversity is the strongest predictor of a field’s scientific impact (r is 0.77 and 0.55 for group and individual ethnic diversity, respectively).

Moreover, to isolate the effect of ethnic diversity from other confounding factors, we analyze a baseline model in which author ethnicities are randomized while preserving all other characteristics.

We find that the relation between ethnic diversity and impact is stronger in the real data compared to the randomized baseline model, regardless of publication year, number of authors per paper, and number of collaborators per scientist.

Finally, we use coarsened exact matching to infer causality, whereby the scientific impact of diverse papers and scientists are compared against closely matched control groups. In keeping with the other results, we find that ethnic diversity consistently leads to higher scientific impact.


Data Sustainability and Reuse Pathways of Natural Resources and Environmental Scientists

Author : Yi Shen

This paper presents a multifarious examination of natural resources and environmental scientists’ adventures navigating the policy change towards open access and cultural shift in data management, sharing, and reuse.

Situated in the institutional context of Virginia Tech, a focus group and multiple individual interviews were conducted exploring the domain scientists’ all-around experiences, performances, and perspectives on their collection, adoption, integration, preservation, and management of data.

The results reveal the scientists’ struggles, concerns, and barriers encountered, as well as their shared values, beliefs, passions, and aspirations when working with data. Based on these findings, this study provides suggestions on data modeling and knowledge representation strategies to support the long-term viability, stewardship, accessibility, and sustainability of scientific data.

It also discusses the art of curation as creative scholarship and new opportunities for data librarians and information professionals to mobilize the data revolution.


David Allan Bromley: The Early Champion of Information Super Highway and Open Access to Science

Author : Randy Ray

Having grown up as a small boy on a farm in Northern Canada without plumbing or electricity, David Allan Bromley went on to become the first sterling Professor of the sciences at Yale University, Chair of its Physics Department, and Dean of Engineering; at various times President of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the Union of Pure and Applied Physics, and the American Physical Society; the first cabinet-level assistant to the President of the United States for Science and Technology with direct access to the President; and the Senate-confirmed Director of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy.

He was an early champion of high speed network which he called ‘data superhighway’ now known as the Internet and Information superhighway, as well as the concept of Open Access to Science. He was a leading figure in nuclear physics. In the area of public policy he will be remembered as one of the most effective Science Advisers to the President of the United States.


Effective Practices and Strategies for Open Access Outreach: A Qualitative Study

Author : Diane (DeDe) Dawson


There are many compelling reasons to make research open access (OA), but raising the awareness of faculty and administrators about OA is a struggle. Now that more and more funders are introducing OA policies, it is increasingly important that researchers understand OA and how to comply with these policies.

U.K. researchers and their institutions have operated within a complex OA policy environment for many years, and academic libraries have been at the forefront of providing services and outreach to support them. This article discusses the results of a qualitative study that investigated effective practices and strategies of OA outreach in the United Kingdom.


Semistructured interviews were conducted with 14 individuals at seven universities in the United Kingdom in late 2015. Transcripts of these interviews were analyzed for dominant themes using an inductive method of coding.


Themes were collected under the major headings of “The Message”; “Key Contacts and Relationships”; “Qualities of the OA Practitioner”; and “Advocacy versus Compliance.” 


Results indicate that messages about OA need to be clear, concise, and jargon free. They need to be delivered repeatedly and creatively adapted to specific audiences. Identifying and building relationships with influencers and informers is key to the uptake of the message, and OA practitioners must have deep expertise to be credible as the messengers.


This timely research has immediate relevance to North American libraries as they contend with pressures to ramp up their own OA outreach and support services to assist researchers in complying with new federal funding policies.

URL : Effective Practices and Strategies for Open Access Outreach: A Qualitative Study