Linked Research on the Decentralised Web

Author : Sarven Capadisli

This thesis is about research communication in the context of the Web. I analyse literature which reveals how researchers are making use of Web technologies for knowledge dissemination, as well as how individuals are disempowered by the centralisation of certain systems, such as academic publishing platforms and social media.

I share my findings on the feasibility of a decentralised and interoperable information space where researchers can control their identifiers whilst fulfilling the core functions of scientific communication: registration, awareness, certification, and archiving.

The contemporary research communication paradigm operates under a diverse set of sociotechnical constraints, which influence how units of research information and personal data are created and exchanged.

Economic forces and non-interoperable system designs mean that researcher identifiers and research contributions are largely shaped and controlled by third-party entities; participation requires the use of proprietary systems.

From a technical standpoint, this thesis takes a deep look at semantic structure of research artifacts, and how they can be stored, linked and shared in a way that is controlled by individual researchers, or delegated to trusted parties. Further, I find that the ecosystem was lacking a technical Web standard able to fulfill the awareness function of research communication.

Thus, I contribute a new communication protocol, Linked Data Notifications (published as a W3C Recommendation) which enables decentralised notifications on the Web, and provide implementations pertinent to the academic publishing use case. So far we have seen decentralised notifications applied in research dissemination or collaboration scenarios, as well as for archival activities and scientific experiments.

Another core contribution of this work is a Web standards-based implementation of a clientside tool, dokieli, for decentralised article publishing, annotations and social interactions. dokieli can be used to fulfill the scholarly functions of registration, awareness, certification, and archiving, all in a decentralised manner, returning control of research contributions and discourse to individual researchers.

The overarching conclusion of the thesis is that Web technologies can be used to create a fully functioning ecosystem for research communication. Using the framework of Web architecture, and loosely coupling the four functions, an accessible and inclusive ecosystem can be realised whereby users are able to use and switch between interoperable applications without interfering with existing data.

Technical solutions alone do not suffice of course, so this thesis also takes into account the need for a change in the traditional mode of thinking amongst scholars, and presents the Linked Research initiative as an ongoing effort toward researcher autonomy in a social system, and universal access to human- and machine-readable information.

Outcomes of this outreach work so far include an increase in the number of individuals self-hosting their research artifacts, workshops publishing accessible proceedings on the Web, in-the-wild experiments with open and public peer-review, and semantic graphs of contributions to conference proceedings and journals (the Linked Open Research Cloud).

Some of the future challenges include: addressing the social implications of decentralised Web publishing, as well as the design of ethically grounded interoperable mechanisms; cultivating privacy aware information spaces; personal or community-controlled on-demand archiving services; and further design of decentralised applications that are aware of the core functions of scientific communication.

URL : https://csarven.ca/linked-research-decentralised-web

Collaborating Across Campus to Advance Open Access Policy Compliance

Authors : Andrew Johnson, Melissa Cantrell, Ryan Caillet

In 2018, the Data and Scholarly Communication Services Unit (DSCS) at the University of Colorado Boulder began implementing two open access (OA) policy workflows with the aim of increasing content in the institutional repository CU Scholar, expanding awareness of the campus OA policy that was passed in 2015, and decreasing the burden on researchers for participation in the policy.

DSCS leveraged collaborative relationships with other library departments and campus units in order to mobilize the data, infrastructure, procedures, and documentation to execute these workflows.

The Directory of Open Access Journals (DOAJ) workflow identifies existing open access publications by CU Boulder faculty and mediates deposit in order to make them available in CU Scholar. The liaison outreach workflow partners with liaison librarians to request from faculty preprints and author’s final manuscripts of publications in which the publisher version may have copyright restrictions.

At present, the DOAJ workflow has resulted in 754 articles deposited in CU Scholar, and the liaison outreach workflow has resulted in 91 articles deposited. Each of these workflows pose challenges that have required flexibility, experimentation, and clear communication between stakeholders.

This case study, which includes detailed descriptions of both open access policy workflows, initial results, and plans for future implementation, may serve as a guide for other institutions wishing to adopt and/or adapt institutional repository workflows and forge collaborative relationships to further open access initiatives in their local context.

URL : Collaborating Across Campus to Advance Open Access Policy Compliance

Alternative location : https://digitalcommons.du.edu/collaborativelibrarianship/vol11/iss3/7

The International Open Access Movement and Its Status in Pakistan

Author : Arslan Sheikh

The objective of this study is to analyze the present status of the open access movement in Pakistan, identify challenges, and make recommendations for the effective use of this publishing model.

The article looks primarily at the open access movement in Asia, with special reference to Pakistan, India, and China. Findings show that, since the emergence of the Budapest Open Access Initiative in 2001, the open access movement has developed rapidly at the international level. From the Pakistani perspective, gold open access, in which articles or monographs are freely available in their original form on publishers’ websites, developed quickly.

However, green open access, which relies on authors to self-archive their articles in institutional or subject repositories, has been relatively slow to develop. A lack of support from educational institutions, libraries, library associations, and funding bodies may explain the slow growth of green open access in Pakistan.

The author recommends that Pakistani universities, research institutions, and funding agencies develop open access policies, set up institutional repositories, and encourage publishing in open access journals and self-archiving in institutional repositories.

URL : https://preprint.press.jhu.edu/portal/sites/ajm/files/20.1sheikh.pdf

Attitudes of North American Academics toward Open Access Scholarly Journals

Authors : Elizabeth D. Dalton, Carol Tenopir, Bo-Christer Björk

In this study, the authors examine attitudes of researchers toward open access (OA) scholarly journals.

Using two-step cluster analysis to explore survey data from faculty, graduate students, and postdoctoral researchers at large North American research institutions, two different cluster types emerge: Those with a positive attitude toward OA and a desire to reach the nonscholarly audience groups who would most benefit from OA (“pro-OA”), and those with a more negative, skeptical attitude and less interest in reaching nonscholarly readers (“non-OA”).

The article explores these cluster identities in terms of position type, subject discipline, and productivity, as well as implications for policy and practice.

URL : https://preprint.press.jhu.edu/portal/sites/ajm/files/20.1dalton.pdf

The fundamental problem blocking open access and how to overcome it: the BitViews project

Authors : Camillo Lamanna, Manfredi La Manna

In our view the fundamental obstacle to open access (OA) is the lack of any incentive-based mechanism that unbundles authors’ accepted manuscripts (AMs) from articles (VoRs).

The former can be seen as the public good that ought to be openly accessible, whereas the latter is owned by publishers and rightly paywall-restricted. We propose one such mechanism to overcome this obstacle: BitViews.

BitViews is a blockchain-based application that aims to revolutionize the OA publishing ecosystem. Currently, the main academic currency of value is the citation. There have been attempts in the past to create a second currency whose measure is the online usage of research materials (e.g. PIRUS).

However, these have failed due to two problems. Firstly, it has been impossible to find a single agency willing to co-ordinate and fund the validation and collation of global online usage data. Secondly, online usage metrics have lacked transparency in how they filter non-human online activity.

BitViews is a novel solution which uses blockchain technology to bypass both problems: online AMS usage will be recorded on a public, distributed ledger, obviating the need for a central responsible agency, and the rules governing activity-filtering will be part of the open-source BitViews blockchain application, creating complete transparency.

Once online AMS usage has measurable value, researchers will be incentivized to promote and disseminate AMs. This will fundamentally re-orient the academic publishing ecosystem.

A key feature of BitViews is that its success (or failure) is wholly and exclusively in the hands of the worldwide community of university and research libraries, as we suggest that it ought to be financed by conditional crowdfunding, whereby the actual financial commitment of each contributing library depends on the total amount raised.

If the financing target is not reached, then all contributions are returned in full and if the target is over-fulfilled, then the surplus is returned pro rata.

URL : The fundamental problem blocking open access and how to overcome it: the BitViews project

DOI : http://doi.org/10.1629/uksg.488

 

Uses and Reuses of Scientific Data: The Data Creators’ Advantage

Authors : Irene V. Pasquetto, Christine L. Borgman, Morgan F. Wofford

Open access to data, as a core principle of open science, is predicated on assumptions that scientific data can be reused by other researchers. We test those assumptions by asking where scientists find reusable data, how they reuse those data, and how they interpret data they did not collect themselves.

By conducting a qualitative meta-analysis of evidence on two long-term, distributed, interdisciplinary consortia, we found that scientists frequently sought data from public collections and from other researchers for comparative purposes such as “ground-truthing” and calibration.

When they sought others’ data for reanalysis or for combining with their own data, which was relatively rare, most preferred to collaborate with the data creators.

We propose a typology of data reuses ranging from comparative to integrative. Comparative data reuse requires interactional expertise, which involves knowing enough about the data to assess their quality and value for a specific comparison such as calibrating an instrument in a lab experiment.

Integrative reuse requires contributory expertise, which involves the ability to perform the action, such as reusing data in a new experiment. Data integration requires more specialized scientific knowledge and deeper levels of epistemic trust in the knowledge products.

Metadata, ontologies, and other forms of curation benefit interpretation for any kind of data reuse. Based on these findings, we theorize the data creators’ advantage, that those who create data have intimate and tacit knowledge that can be used as barter to form collaborations for mutual advantage.

Data reuse is a process that occurs within knowledge infrastructures that evolve over time, encompassing expertise, trust, communities, technologies, policies, resources, and institutions.

URL : Uses and Reuses of Scientific Data: The Data Creators’ Advantage

DOI : https://doi.org/10.1162/99608f92.fc14bf2d