Sciety's commitment to the Principles of Open Scholarly Infrastructure

Sciety is committed to the Principles of Open Scholarly Infrastructure. Here we outline our current status against each principle.

10 days ago   •   5 min read

By The Sciety Team
Photo by Wilhelm Gunkel / Unsplash

Sciety is committed to the Principles of Open Scholarly Infrastructure. Here we outline our current status against each principle, and what we’re doing to work towards full compliance. Sciety is operated by a team based within eLife Sciences Publications Limited (eLife) and its development and features are influenced by regular feedback from all of its groups, readers and authors. This means that some aspects of Sciety’s operation relate to the governance and sustainability of eLife but other aspects benefit from working outside those constraints.

The Principles of Open Scholarly Infrastructure is a set of principles designed to guide the Open Science efforts of organisations that have committed to enable and deliver open access to science. At Sciety, we were founded on these principles. Through practical involvement, transparent dissemination and a free-to-use platform, we hope to support scientific groups to reach their target audience. We recognise that achieving these principles is a continuous process that must evolve and be reviewed constantly.

The report format here was inspired by other organisations that are committed to the Principles of Open Scholarly Infrastructure, particularly this post from the Journal of Open Source Software.

Summary

Governance

πŸ’› Coverage across the research enterprise
πŸ’› Stakeholder Governed
πŸ’› Non-discriminatory membership
πŸ’š Transparent operations
πŸ’š Cannot lobby
πŸ’› Living will
πŸ’š Formal incentives to fulfil mission & wind-down

Sustainability

πŸ’š Time-limited funds are used only for time-limited activities
πŸ’› Goal to generate surplus
πŸ’š Goal to create a contingency fund to support operations for 12 months
πŸ’š Mission-consistent revenue generation
πŸ’š Revenue based on services, not data

Insurance

πŸ’š Open source
πŸ’š Open data (within constraints of privacy laws)
πŸ’š Available data (within constraints of privacy laws)
πŸ’š Patent non-assertion

(πŸ’š = good, πŸ’› = less good)

Governance

πŸ’› Coverage across the research enterprise

While we would like to cover all subject areas, we recognise that there is a limit to what any single organisation can do. Additionally, we would rather serve a smaller subsection of the research community well and our focus is on the bio- and medical sciences. However, we already have a small number of Groups that cover fields outside this remit and as we grow, with more resources available, we will consider supporting other areas. Sciety operates on the idea of a decentralised network of evaluations, articles and people, so we are not constrained to one part of the research enterprise but merely choose to focus to enhance the chances of our success.

πŸ’› Stakeholder Governed

Sciety is operated by a team within eLife Sciences Publications Limited, and their Board is selected from stakeholders across the research landscape and beyond. The current Board members represent research funders, research institutions, independent researchers, venture capital investors and early-career researchers. We do not have formal representation from the Groups who participate in Sciety, although are hoping to bring them more into future roadmap discussions.

πŸ’› Non-discriminatory membership

Our platform is free to join and use. Additionally, any group of reviewers within the purview of our mission; i.e. bio and medical sciences, will be made to feel at home. To achieve this, we are making a conscientious effort to reach out across the world to ensure a diverse platform where rich ideas are shared and curated. We are developing a list of objective criteria for the assessment of new Groups who wish to join Sciety and will publish those transparently in the future.

πŸ’š Transparent operations

Our operations are transparent and in the public domain, including our open-source software, details on how we are run, our founders and funders. Our development roadmap can be found on a shared Miro board and progress is on our Github repository. We encourage partnering Groups to make their own operations transparent and lead by example with eLife’s own operations.

πŸ’š Cannot lobby

Neither Sciety nor its founders engage in any form of lobbying that aims to divert or change public policies in a way that is not open and engaging to the public. Sciety believe in democracy that is open and accessible to all.

πŸ’› Living will

We have not yet created a plan for winding down Sciety in case of a change in strategic direction for eLife or any future stakeholders.

πŸ’š Formal incentives to fulfil mission & wind-down

We believe that Sciety will no longer be necessary when the traditional journal ecosystem has been replaced with a system of early sharing and open evaluation of results. Sciety serves to facilitate that transition and will become unnecessary once the culture has changed sufficiently.

Sustainability

πŸ’š Time-limited funds are used only for time-limited activities

We are using existing funding to build the underlying infrastructure, but ultimately aim to create revenue models that will support communities to participate on the platform, and a proportion of that revenue will contribute to maintenance and feature development.

πŸ’› Goal to generate surplus

As we develop revenue models, we will include goals to generate surplus revenue. While we are still fully dependent on external funding, however, this is not yet possible.

πŸ’š Goal to create contingency fund to support operations for 12 months

Our current funding commitment means we are able to support operations for the next few years. During that time we aim to build revenue and with it an ongoing contingency fund to support operations in the longer term.

πŸ’š Mission-consistent revenue generation

Sciety does not generate revenue but does raise funds for the purposes of furthering the eLife mission, particularly in regard to accelerating discovery by fostering a publish, review, curate approach to research communication. All our plans for revenue will be in accordance with that mission.

πŸ’š Revenue based on services, not data

Sciety does not currently generate revenue and all data is open and available for others at no charge. Our future business model will concentrate on value-add services and associated licencing arrangements. We will never generate revenue from the data we gather and display.

Insurance

πŸ’š Open source

Our code is open in a publicly accessible Github repository and licenced under a permissible, OSI-approved licence known as the MIT licence.

We also go beyond this by exposing our work in progress as GitHub tickets and showing our near-term priorities in our publicly accessible Miro board.

πŸ’š Open data (within constraints of privacy laws)

A proportion of the data used by Sciety is already open and sourced from Groups and publicly available indexes, such as Crossref, EuropePMC and bioRxiv. Β All other data is available via GitHub, configured as part of the application via files in GitHub or made available on publicly accessible data repositories that are not connected to Sciety infrastructure directly. Therefore the infrastructure could be forked and replicated with all those parts available, for more information on exact locations please see Available Data below.

πŸ’š Available data (within constraints of privacy laws)

Evaluation data collected by Sciety is available on GitHub as versioned files and this information is further exposed using the DocMaps standard in the Sciety API. Event data on Sciety that is used to store list curation, follow activity and indicators of helpfulness is available through a regular data dump on Google Cloud Storage (access available on request). Visitor data is available openly to view via Fathom Analytics but more precise data dumps are not available due to privacy laws and the potential to expose visitor IP address and browser identification hashes.

πŸ’š Patent non-assertion

We currently hold no patents and therefore are not in a position to prevent anyone using or replicating our infrastructure.

(πŸ’š = good, πŸ’› = less good)

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