The digital age is seeing an informal convergence within the scholarly communication space: the Natural and Health Sciences, the Humanities, Arts and Social Sciences, applied and professional fields are all discovering that they have more in common when it comes to the future of research communication than differences. What is needed now is a program that will help us realize the potential of this merger: the development of a ‘Scholarly Commons.’

This program is designed to define and incubate this Commons. We will conduct a series of workshops and exercises to examine the best thinking around the world about what is required for a scholarly communications ecosystem designed for 21st century scholarship. We call this ecosystem the Scholarly Commons. It is not a single platform or tool, but rather the principles, best practices, interfaces and standards that should govern the multi-directional flow of scholarly objects through all phases of the research process from conception to dissemination. The project continues the work of the Commons working group to define what is common across communities and builds upon communications and proposals made at FORCE2015. It will extend this work by hosting a set of workshops dedicated to re-imagining scholarship, discovering, cataloging and mapping the elements we have available now, and producing a set of materials that will empower individuals, communities and organizations around the world who want to bring this vision into reality.


Articulate a set of high level principles and practical guidelines for the Scholarly Commons that can be endorsed by individuals and organizations around the globe. This program will focus on assessing the degree of convergence of thinking around these issues across communities and stakeholders, mapping current efforts against this thinking, and developing the materials necessary to promote future activity in this space. Implementation and dissemination of the commons itself (as opposed to material necessary to promote its establishment) are out of scope of this working group and will be considered in follow on activities.


1) Two workshops:

a. Workshop 1: The first workshop will be organized to build off the 1K challenge idea proposed by Dr. Sarah Callaghan at FORCE2015: What would research communication look like after a clean start? A common theme that emerges from FORCE meetings is that many of our ideas for reforming scholarly communications spring from 350 years of tradition around scientific dissemination. As shown by the discussion on credit systems at FORCE2015, we often don’t question the basic assumptions behind our current systems which are often simply electronic implementations of old practices that pre-date networks and machine-based access to information. We propose a workshop where we re-imagine scholarly communication starting from scratch in the 21st century as a system that was explicitly designed for machine-based access and networked scholarship, and not simply adapted from the old system.

b. Workshop 2: The second workshop will be devoted to putting the pieces together by comparing the community vision against our current state of “chaotic innovation.” How close are we to realizing this vision? What pieces do we have? Where are we lacking infrastructure, expertise, tools or principles? Where are their significant barriers? What opportunities exist for the community to help fill these gaps and how can we create community buy in around proposed solutions? The goal of this workshop would be to come up with a set of concrete recommendations to anyone working in scholarly communication.

2) Engaging the global community:

As an adjunct to the above workshops, we will support local efforts around the globe to consider the same sets of questions within their local communities. We will especially encourage those outside of the FORCE11 community to consider this exercise and give us their ideas.

3) Building the landscape:

We will work to identify and work with groups around the world who are assembling lists and catalogs of tools and resources currently available for creating the scholarly commons. As part of this work, we will create an interactive visual landscape that can be used for anyone to place themselves, their tool or their organization in this space.

4) Tangible recommendations and guidelines:

We will produce a set of high level recommendations and guiding principles around best practices and standards within the Scholarly Commons. We want anyone coming to FORCE11 or any organization around the world engaged in these types of activities to come away with tangible action items for their constituents, i.e., what should they do now.

More details on this working group can be found here.

Photo by ~Brenda-Starr~

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