Introducing the Feminist Framework for Radical Knowledge Collaboration

This is an abridged version of a longer blog post. You can read a more complete description of our work in my post on At the Intersection.

  1. How has the patriarchy affected you?
  2. How has the patriarchy impacted your work?
  3. How have you been complicit in perpetuating the patriarchy?

These were the three questions we started with when beginning our reflection on what has become the Femifesto: Feminist Framework for Radical Knowledge Collaboration.

My colleagues Sandra Enimil, Charlotte Roh, Ivonne Lujano, Sharon Farb, Gimena del Rio Riande, and Lingyu Wang began working on this idea several months ago as a proposal for the Triangle Scholarly Communication Institute in Chapel Hill, NC in the U.S., situated on the unceded lands of the Eno, Shakori, and Catawba nations and on land worked by countless enslaved people of the African diaspora. What initially began as a possible toolkit, quickly, through our individual and collective reflection work, evolved into a framework for thinking through equitable collaboration in knowledge work. Read more


Why just 2.5%?

Sustainability planning is certainly a tricky business. Over the last several months I have been working with teams grappling with sustainability and other long-term plans for four projects: the Big Ten Academic Alliance’s Geoportal, Mapping Prejudice, the Data Curation Network, and AgEcon Search.  These are all cross-unit collaborative projects, and multi-institutional in most cases, but their common element is that my library serves as administrative and/or infrastructural home and/or lead institution. This planning has led to an interesting thought experiment, spurred by the AgEcon Search planning.

First, brief background: AgEcon Search is a subject repository serving the fields of applied and agricultural economics. The University of Minnesota (UMN) has been operating it since 1995, back in the pre-web days; the first iteration was Gopher based. It is still jointly sponsored by the UMN Libraries and the UMN Department of Applied Economics, but is now also a partnership that includes financial and other support from the USDA, private foundations, both the national and the international agricultural economics scholarly associations, and others (full list and other info here). There is tremendous support within its scholarly community for AgEcon Search and, increasingly, very strong international use and participation, especially in Africa.

The two UMN host units have started long-term sustainability planning. Right now, a leading strategy is a joint fundraising program with a goal of building an endowment.

Here’s the thought experiment. Roughly speaking, a $2 million endowment would generate sufficient revenue to pay most of AgEcon Search’s annual staffing, infrastructure and other costs. $2 million is about 11% of what the University of Minnesota Libraries spends annually for collections. So if we were able to take just 10% of what we spend in just one year on collections, we would be most of the way towards ensuring a long-term financial future for one project. And if Minnesota could double that, or even go to 25%, then in one year we would be able to do this for two similarly-sized, community controlled open projects. And if we did it for two years, we probably would have funded all four of these (Minnesota-homed) projects. And if we kept going, in the next and following years and be able to use that money to do the same for other projects, at other institutions. And if all academic libraries did the same, how many years would it take to put a really huge dent in our collective open funding problem?

Obviously, there are many, many practical, political, logistical and other challenges to actually doing this with our collections funding, but I’m leaving those aside for the moment, though they are far from trivial. This thought experiment has helped bring focus to my thinking about David Lewis’s 2.5% solution (see also his post on this blog and his later writings with other colleagues), and Cameron Neylon’s response in ‘Against the 2.5% Solution.’ Which, spoiler alert, is not strictly speaking against the solution, but in favor of a number of things including an investment quality index that can guide these investments, a variety of different strategies, and in support of a much bigger investments than the 2.5%.

Which is where I think we absolutely need to be — more aggressively and more deeply investing in open. 2.5% per year is not enough. 25% might be getting warmer. Would I love for that money to come from our universities instead of from our collections budgets? Sure. But will it happen and how long will it take? Speed and agility will be increasingly important. To underscore that point: the Data Curation Network got its Sloan pilot grant funding and was well underway planning and (openly) sharing rich information about what it takes and how to do data curation when Springer announced it would offer for-fee data management and curation services. Wellcome Trust is now in a pilot to fund its investigators to use Springer’s service (I’m not linking, use your favorite search tool). The Data Curation Network, like many collective projects, has been starting to make the case for community support, with the usual mixed responses. How many more projects will teeter on the brink of survival while publishers with a long history of enclosure and extortionate pricing gobble them up, or out-market us, or out-innovate us?  What’s your favorite open project or workflow tool? Has it been asking for support?

I am, personally, decidedly lukewarm on the all-APC flip that started the OA2020 conversation, but don’t think we have the luxury of ruling out many strategies at this point. More, smarter, and faster are the words that guide my thinking and my hopes for a more open, community-owned scholarly communications ecosystem. I’m very much looking forward to the ‘Choosing Pathways to OA‘ workshop at Berkeley in October, and grateful to colleagues at the University of California, including the faculty, who have injected recent energy and inspiration, and who have invested in space to bring us together to talk about advancing practical strategies. See other posts on this blog about offsetting at MIT and the

publishing layers (formerly known as RedOA) project. Read more


Free the Science: One Scholarly Society’s bold vision for open access and why it matters now more than ever

The Electrochemical Society, a small nonprofit scholarly society founded in 1902, has an important message for all of us who are concerned about access to science.   Mary Yess, Deputy Executive Director and Chief Content Officer and Publisher, could not be clearer about the increased urgency of ECS’ path:  “We have got to move towards an open science environment. It has never been more important – especially in light of the recently announced ‘gag orders’ on several US government agencies– to actively promote the principles of open science.”    What they committed to in 2013 as an important open access initiative has become, against the current political backdrop, truly a quest to “free the science.”

ECS’s “Free the Science” program is designed to accelerate the ability of the research ECS publishes — for example, in sustainable clean energy, clean water, climate science, food safety, and medical care — to generate solutions to our planet’s biggest problems.  It is a simple and yet powerful proposition, as ECS frames it:

“We believe that if this research were openly available to anyone who wished to read it, anywhere it the world, it would contribute to faster problem solving and technology development, accelerate the pace of scientific discovery, encourage innovation, enrich education, and even stimulate the economy.” Read more



Building Open: SocArXiv

Note to readers: This is the first post in our new series “Building Open” where we interview those who are building tools and services to support scholarship in the open. For our first installment, we talk to Philip Cohen of SocArXiv.

Ultimately, I do think we need to leave the old system behind, but it can work incrementally. For example, we need people to donate fewer free hours of labor (reviewing, editing, moderation, publishing) to for-profit, paywall publishers and more to open access institutions. But they can do that without completely boycotting all for-profit journals, if we build our institutions in an open and inclusive way.

Who are you?
Philip Cohen, professor of sociology at U. of Maryland, College Park. I tweet @familyunequal. Info about SocArXiv can be found on the blog and @socarxiv.

What is SocArXiv?
It is a free, open access, open source archive for social science research.
Please note that we are using the name SocArXiv under (a friendly and generous) license from Cornell, which has a trademark on the name arXiv, and which assumes no responsibility for what we do with it.

Why did you create SocArXiv?
The initiative responds to growing recognition of the need for faster, open sharing of research on a truly open access platform for the social sciences. I have personally grown increasingly frustrated with the slow, expensive, and inefficient system of journal publishing in my field, sociology. I have been looking for a way to bring more research out into the open faster.

Who is involved with SocArXiv? Read more