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Recently Announced Initiative: Invest in Open Infrastructure

Recently Announced Initiative: Invest in Open Infrastructure

June 2019

As noted elsewhere this month, infrastructure may be emerging as the “new black”. One particularly intriguing initiative announced in May of 2019 is the Invest in Open Infrastructure movement. A number of NISO member organizations have indicated support for this initiative, including Hypothesis, Columbia University Libraries, Emory University, Northwestern University; for the full roster of 117 institutional and individual supporters, see this list.

The leadership of the IOI initiative includes SPARC, SPARC Europe, the Open Research Funders Group, OPERAS, JROST (Joint Roadmap for Open Source Tools) and the group, Towards a Scholarly Commons. The IOI Steering Committee is listed here.

Dan Whaley of Hypothesis summed up the issue concisely in his May 14 blog post, “The core problem is that the true consumers of scholarly infrastructure — namely the researchers, scholars and their institutions and agencies which form the gross majority of users — have the means to sustain it, but lack the structure to do so. The libraries know of a few platforms that they need and provide direct support, but there are hundreds of other projects for which there is no visibility at the institutional level.”

Heather Joseph of SPARC wrote in her launch-day post that “IOI brings together initiatives building community-driven projects that enable a durable, scalable, and thriving open scientific and scholarly infrastructure serving the needs of global communities.”

Academic players have already expressed concerns regarding commercial acquisition of a variety of key (and previously free) infrastructure services. The fear is that research communities will see an increasingly restrictive set of controls imposed by owners on alternative means of dissemination, such as preprint servers. A solution demands collaborative efforts by many stakeholders in order to satisfy the various mandates from funding bodies and ensure that scholarly output is made as easily accessible as possible.

IOI proposes a framework capable of “supporting a viable, diverse, efficient, thriving and healthy system.“ Their initial announcement indicates their plan for a framework that will enable five functions with additional details available here. Those five include:

  • Research and Reporting
  • Definition
  • Collaboration
  • Advocacy and Engagement
  • Matching and Assessment

The group offered a launch webinar (recording available via YouTube) that provides greater depth of detail as well as a downloadable set of slides for review. Speakers include Maurice York from the University of Michigan, Arianna Becerril García from Redalyc, and David W. Lewis.