A Grand Challenges-Based Research Agenda for Scholarly Communication and Information Science

Report by Micah Altman and Chris Bourg: “…The overarching question these problems pose is how to create a global scholarly knowledge ecosystem that supports participation, ensures agency, equitable access, trustworthiness, integrity, and is legally, economically, institutionally, technically, and socially sustainable. The aim of the Grand Challenges Summit and this report is to identify broad research areas and questions to be explored in order to provide an evidence base from which to answer specific aspects of that broad question.

Reaching this future state requires exploring a set of interrelated anthropological, behavioral, computational, economic, legal, policy, organizational, sociological, and technological areas. The extent of these areas of research is illustrated by the following exemplars:

What is necessary to develop coherent, comprehensive, and empirically testable theories of the value of scholarly knowledge to society? What is the best current evidence of this value, and what does it elide? How should the measures of use and utility of scholarly outputs be adapted for different communities of use, disciplines, theories, and cultures? What methods will improve our predictions of the future value of collections of information, or enable the selection and construction of collections that will be likely to be of value in the future?…

What parts of the scholarly knowledge ecosystem promote the values of transparency, individual agency, participation, accountability, and fairness? How can these values be reflected in the algorithms, information architecture, and technological systems supporting the scholarly knowledge ecosystem? What principles of design and governance would be effective for embedding these values?…

The list above provides a partial outline of research areas that will need to be addressed in order to overcome the major barriers to a better future for scholarly communication and information science. As the field progresses in exploring these areas, and attempting to address the barriers is discussed, new areas are likely to be identified. Even within this initial list of research areas, there are many pressing questions ripe for exploration….

Research on open scholarship solutions is needed to assess the scale and breadth of access,[68] the costs to actors and stakeholders at all levels, and the effects of openness on perceptions of trust and confidence in research and research organizations. Research is also needed in the intersection between open scholarship and participation, new forms of scholarship, information integrity, information durability, and information agency (see section 3.1.). This will require an assessment of the costs and returns of open scholarship at a systemic level, rather than at the level of individual institutions or actors. We also need to assess whether and under what conditions interventions directed at removing reputation and institutional barriers to collaboration promote open scholarship. Research is likewise required to document the conditions under which open scholarship reduces duplication and inefficiency, and promotes equity in the creation and use of knowledge. In addition, research should address the permeability of open scholarship systems to researchers across multiple scientific fields, and whether—and under what conditions—open scholarship enhances interdisciplinary collaboration….(More)”.