Globalization of the information infrastructure: challenges and opportunities
Globalization of the information infrastructure: challenges and opportunities
https://asa1cadmoremedia.blob.core.windows.net/asset-5df87cfb-393d-446d-a0f9-bafcd66b298c/Globalization of the information infrastructure challenges a.mp4
SPEAKER: Hello. Welcome to this session on globalization of the information infrastructure. We're going to be looking at how we can ensure easy and equitable access to this infrastructure for researchers and their organizations, around the world and across all disciplines. And to help me, I have four wonderful people to present to you. They're going to present the challenges we as an industry face in being globally inclusive, and then we're going to open up the conversation to all.
SPEAKER: So please, feel free to pose questions in the chat window for us to address when the presentations are over. Without any more ado, then, our presenters are Hylke Koers. Hylke is the chief information officer for STM Solutions, STM's operational arm, which develops and manages shared infrastructures and collaborative services to support the scholarly communications community.
SPEAKER: Juan Pablo Alperin is an associate professor at the School of Publishing and the co-director of the Scholarly Communications Lab at Simon Fraser University. He's best known as a leading voice in the open access and open science communities. He can intermediate between the Latin American experiences and the discussions about open access and open source worldwide. Dr. Alperin is also the core scientific director of the Public Knowledge Project, a research project whose software, Open Journal Systems, has become the most widely used open access publishing platform in the world.
SPEAKER: Natasha Simons is Associate Director for Data and Services for the Australian Research Data Commons. She collaborates nationally and internationally to solve key challenges that improve the infrastructure, the policies, skills and practices in the sharing of research data. She's based at the University of Queensland in Brisbane, and leads a geographically dispersed team who are passionate about enabling fair data, and driving a corresponding change in scholarly communication culture.
SPEAKER: And finally, Andrew Joseph. Andrew is the digital publisher at Wits University Press. His publishing experience has largely been in academic and reference publications for most major European and US academic publishers. Andrew designed and is establishing African Scholarship Online, an Africa-wide university press initiative funded by the National Institute for Humanities and Social Sciences.
SPEAKER: They are our speakers. We look forward to connecting with you all on the other side of the presentations.
HYLKE KOERS: Good morning, good afternoon, and good evening to all of you. First of all, let me thank the organizers for inviting me to speak here at such an important and interesting topic. It's great to be here, and talk to you about some of the challenges and opportunities in creating a truly global research infrastructure, one that's not just global in terms of technical implementation, but also in how it's used and how it delivers value to researchers across the globe.
HYLKE KOERS: My name is Hylke Koers, and I'm the CIO of STM Solutions. And before I dive into the topic of conversation today, let me say a few words about STM and STM Solutions. So STM is the international trade association for academic and professional publishers of all sorts, shapes and sizes. We have over 140 members in over 20 countries around the world, and our members collectively publish around two thirds of all journal articles worldwide.
HYLKE KOERS: STM's mission is to advance trusted research. And one of the ways in which we are delivering on that mission is by developing standards and technology to ensure that published research is of high quality, trustworthy, and easy to access. In support of this mission, STM Solutions was launched last year to develop and manage shared solutions and common infrastructure to the benefit of the scholarly communications industry.
HYLKE KOERS: Within that broad remit, our priorities for 2022 are around research integrity and access. So while I was preparing for this talk, I spoke with a number of colleagues about the global or non-global nature of research and its supporting infrastructure. And the first reaction that I heard often is that a lot of research is global in nature. Think, for example, of all the journals with international in their name.
HYLKE KOERS: As a little fun fact, I found about 2,500 of those. But then if you look a bit deeper, you will see that things are not quite as global, and that there are important regional differences in how research is being produced and how it's being disseminated. And this graph, I think, is a powerful demonstration of the rapid rise in China's contribution to scholarly publications, but it also shows that many regions of the world are still underrepresented.
HYLKE KOERS: And this figure is taken from a recent report, with thanks to my colleague Lucy Derges. And there's a lot more detail available in the report if you're interested. So looking at the inner workings of the publication process, we also see regional disbalances. The figure on the left, for example, is taken from a study that examines the level of international representation on editorial boards in environmental biology.
HYLKE KOERS: The figure shows the composition of the editorial board, and how that's considerably less international than the composition of the journal's author base. This is just one example, I realize, but I expect it's quite representative of the situation in many other journals and many other fields. The figure on the right is taken from Publons publication from 2018. It shows the relative contribution to the peer review process plotted against a number of publications for selected countries.
HYLKE KOERS: And in a world where authorship, editorship, reviewership would be equally represented, then this would be a straight line. But as you can see, we're quite far from that situation, and clearly have some work to be done. This situation of disbalance does not only apply to scholarly journals. In fact, this is an interesting article that appeared in Scientific American last month.
HYLKE KOERS: And it shows a mismatch between the nationality of researchers submitting to the archive's preprint server and those moderating it, with also we have more limited international representation on the side of moderation and quality control. Let me change gears a little bit from scholarly publishing to the infrastructure that is underpinning it. And I will focus on two pieces of infrastructure that I'm personally most familiar with, namely SeamlessAccess and GetFTR, both of which are technologies to help researchers discover and access content more easily.
HYLKE KOERS: SeamlessAccess is a service that streamlines the access user experience for researchers. In a nutshell, it makes it easier to use your institutional credentials to log into, for example, a publisher platform or a scholarly resource provided by your National E-infrastructure. It builds on the broader infrastructure of federated authentication, and then adds value to that by making that much easier to use for the end user.
HYLKE KOERS: So SeamlessAccess, the service, as well as the underlying infrastructure, are essentially agnostic to geography, and they will work fine wherever the user is located. However, we do see big differences in how the service is being utilized. There's relatively strong adoption in Europe and US, moderate adoption in Asia-Pacific region, and very limited adoption elsewhere.
HYLKE KOERS: The map on the right illustrates this trend. And the particular map is based on data currently shared by IOP publishing, but I expect that really exemplifies the situation at large. GetFTR also helps users with discovering and accessing content. And it does that in a way that's complementary to SeamlessAccess, which I just spoke about.
HYLKE KOERS: GetFTR helps you, as a user, to easily see which content you are entitled to when you are searching or browsing for scholarly material, and it helps you to then access that material more easily and more quickly from the point of discovery. As with SeamlessAccess, the service, and infrastructure that it builds upon are really independent of geography or location, but yet we do see significant differences in how usage and the benefits that stem from that usage are distributed over the world.
HYLKE KOERS: So to understand those patterns, I think it's important to look beyond just the technology, and really take a comprehensive view across the enabling infrastructure, the services that built on top of that, and then the humans that are using them. And while the last few decades have seen tremendous progress in making some of the core infrastructure available across the globe-- think, for example, about the rise of mobile phones in many regions in the Global South-- we need to make sure that the way that the services are designed drives equitable usage and distribution of benefits, but also that we invest in training, capacity building for users across the globe.
HYLKE KOERS: So on that note, I'd like to end my presentation with a shout out to the good work that some of my colleagues at STM are involved with in the Research for Life initiative. Research for Life was launched in 2001, with the aim of reducing the knowledge gap by providing affordable access to academic and professional resources. While a lot of the focus in those initial years was on bridging the access gap, there's now increased attention to training and capacity building for librarians and researchers.
HYLKE KOERS: And to fund that increased remit, there's a new vehicle called Friends of Research for Life that has been set up. And if you agree with my position that creating a truly global research infrastructure requires investing in people as much as in technology, I would kindly ask you to consider becoming such a friend. With that, let me close my presentation.
HYLKE KOERS: I look forward to your questions and panel discussion. And thank you very much for your attention.
JUAN PABLO ALPERIN: OK. Hello, everyone. Thanks for being here, and thanks for the invitation to present a little bit about some of the work that we've been doing with Public Knowledge Project. So as I just said, I'm Juan Pablo Alperin. I'm a scientific director with the Public Knowledge Project, a project I've been involved with for going on 15 years now.
JUAN PABLO ALPERIN: So let me first just give a very quick overview of what PKP is. I won't spend too much time on this, but I want to really make sure that we center our conversation a little bit on some of the elements that help make PKP part of a global publishing infrastructure. Our mission, again, for more than 20 years that PKP has been in operation has been really about improving the quality and the quantity of knowledge that is made available to the public.
JUAN PABLO ALPERIN: And importantly-- and I think that this will come through in the rest of the conversation that comes up-- a key part of our mission is improving not just how much is available to the public, but also increasing the quantity and the quality of the participation, and whose knowledge is actually created and made public and made available for others. PKP is best known for the software that we use, Open Journal Systems.
JUAN PABLO ALPERIN: We actually have other open source software that we do, as well, open monograph press, and our preprint systems. But we also do work as a group that comes out of the scholarly community, that we do research, education, and advocacy promoting open access, and trying to better understand open access, research metrics, economic models that can support scholarly publishing globally, intellectual property, work on academic careers.
JUAN PABLO ALPERIN: And very much always kind of representing and being a voice for the global community in conversations about scholarly publishing. And as well, our third pillar is the publishing services that we provide. Some like hosting, which we do as a cost recovery mechanism for helping to support the project, but other services that we do purely out of an obligation that we feel towards the community, like the PKP preservation network.
JUAN PABLO ALPERIN: Without focusing too much on that, I want to give you a little bit of an overview of OJS, our flagship software, The software for managing and publishing academic publications. And surely, if you do research of any kind, I can guarantee you pretty much that you have come across and downloaded journal articles from a journal using our software. It looks very much like standard academic journals, but you also see journals from other parts of the world that not only look different and are in different languages, but are publishing content created in those parts of the world.
JUAN PABLO ALPERIN: Being open source software, the software tends to be hosted at those institutions around the world, again coming from those different communities. Journals that when we, as a project that oversees them, we find these cells sometimes don't even have the ability to read ourselves, or to have a sense of what these are about. But you can see very different aesthetics. Obviously different scripts, different languages.
JUAN PABLO ALPERIN: And journals that-- here, a journal, one of the oldest, actually, open access journals in existence. And the journal using one of the oldest users of our platform that not only publishes in English or in another language, but actually publishes, as you can see here, have PDFs and articles in English and Spanish and in Portuguese all simultaneously. The journal platform, when you switch to a different language, again, makes those PDFs available with all of those different languages available.
JUAN PABLO ALPERIN: And language is something I'm going to talk about quite a bit when we get to a little bit looking at what OJS journals look like around the world. And so who uses these software? I said you're likely to encounter these over your time doing research if you're someone that is a regular reading journal articles. And that's because we are estimating now that there is at least 25,000 journals around the world using the software.
JUAN PABLO ALPERIN: And we have-- you can look at below. I have a link to the data where you can actually go and see where the journals are. And at the PKP Publishing Fest just at the end of last year, we also made a presentation that you can find online, getting a little bit of a sense of how we calculated these numbers, and how we estimate. Because these journals are again, distributed. They're not all journals that are hosting or have full control over in any way.
JUAN PABLO ALPERIN: These journals are globally distributed. You can see and get a sense. The darker the country, the more journals that we have in those places. So you can see Indonesia, Brazil, US, Spain have sort of a high concentration. But you can see that we are kind of on every continent except Antarctica, with journals everywhere around the world.
JUAN PABLO ALPERIN: See the breakdown by region. And you can see again-- I don't want to focus too much on these stats, I just want to give you a sense of how global the reach really is-- the growth that has happened in East Asia and the Pacific, and largely in Indonesia, but also you can see in Latin America, and in Europe and Central Asia. Those are all areas where there's been significant growth in the last decade when you look at the amount of content that's online using the software.
JUAN PABLO ALPERIN: Looking at-- this is just some recent work being done. There's some busy students at Stanford University where our founding director is. And you can see that we're looking at by income distribution, we have about 1/5 of the journals are in high-income countries. About 1/4 of them are in middle-income countries. And about 1/2 of them are in lower-middle-income countries, it's just using the World Bank classifications.
JUAN PABLO ALPERIN: And very few in low-income countries. Maybe it's not surprising to some. But that 50% or so of the journals in low-middle-income countries something that is important, I think, to highlight and see and understand. Give you a sense of where this growth-- I mentioned Indonesia and Brazil. And you can see on the right there, you can see the growth in Indonesia.
JUAN PABLO ALPERIN: And then it's interesting to look at that case study, and the support, the national support that there's been for publishing. But on the left, you can see that the other top nine countries or top eight countries, the ones that get dwarfed by that growth in Indonesia. And you can see some of the countries that have had growth, including in the United States, but also India, Brazil, Mexico, and Colombia, and so on.
JUAN PABLO ALPERIN: We always see a little bit of a dip in the most recent year, and that's because a little bit of the nature of how we collect the data, that we don't get up to date with catching every journal until sometime later into the following year. We're publishing, I think in 2020, we reached about 1 million articles published in a single year using the software, again, get from the 25,000 or so journals.
JUAN PABLO ALPERIN: Again, we always see a little bit of a dip in the most recent years, but actually that number is likely to catch up and also approach the million for 2021, as well. And then we'll see how 2022 goes. I said I was going to talk a little bit more about language, just to give you a sense. The top languages published is now English, Indonesian, Spanish, and Portuguese.
JUAN PABLO ALPERIN: But important to see that only about 1/2 of the journals have only one language. 40% of the journals are publishing in two languages, and about 10% of the journals are published in three or more languages. Again, this is an estimate being done right now. We're still kind of working and hashing out these stats. It's a little bit of an early preview of some numbers that are going to be coming out in a little while.
JUAN PABLO ALPERIN: And so I guess the question and I think maybe the part where we will want to focus our discussion and conversation is, how is it that PKP has managed to have this such a global reach? And the first thing-- this is a lot of version numbers of software here-- but I pulled out, our software is open source software that can be installed anywhere in the world. And what you can see is that we have kept our requirements very simple.
JUAN PABLO ALPERIN: The versions of the software, all you need is a very standard web server, PHP, MySQL, Apache, and any OS. It's called a lab architecture, and basically standard in any web server anywhere in the world. But our version numbers of the software that requires are also old. And if you look at the MySQL version that we require, it's a version that's been available since 2004, which is a dinosaur ages if you consider how software moves.
JUAN PABLO ALPERIN: PHP is the most recent thing that we need. But it's also PHP version that is not even any longer supported by PHP. And this sort of allows anyone anywhere on any platform to install and run that software. So that's an important feature. But except perhaps more importantly, some of the design of the software itself is that it actually is probably the only publishing platform that has actually full multilingual support.
JUAN PABLO ALPERIN: And I don't just mean that the interfaces can be changed into other languages, but that actually the submissions are accepted in multiple languages. You saw in that example I showed earlier. And actually, all of the forms that allow input into any of the fields in the software that could be made multilingual are made and available in multilingual. And a journal can install as many languages as they want.
JUAN PABLO ALPERIN: And they can select if they just want to have the interfaces multilingual, if they want to accept multilingual submissions in those languages, or if they want to have the full content of the journal available in those other languages. With this, when we see-- this is actually something we rely on the community largely to do translations. We have over 20 languages right now that are more than 98% complete in those translations.
JUAN PABLO ALPERIN: And that long list on the right, that I know is completely unreadable, but I just wanted to capture the entire page so that you could get a sense. Those are all of the language to which the software has been translated almost entirely by our community into all of those languages. And not all of those are fully complete or up to date to the most recent version, but just to give you a sense of the depth.
JUAN PABLO ALPERIN: And this is the community, because they can take on the software and install it themselves, has taken it upon themselves to also translate the software into the languages that they're wanting to work in. We support all of this by just also creating a huge amount of documentation. And this is something that we do take a leadership role in, although we also rely on the community to help provide some additional documentation.
JUAN PABLO ALPERIN: Modules on how to get started using the software, technical documentation, how to use videos, frequently asked questions, all of these things that you expect. But quite a bit of time spent in actually supporting users in using the software. And these are also available in some cases, not for every piece of documentation because we tend to just produce it in English, but then make tools available so the community can translate them into other languages.
JUAN PABLO ALPERIN: And you can see that some of the guides, like learning OJS, available in other languages already. And perhaps this is sort of also, but perhaps more importantly-- and I will just end on this note, because we can have a conversation about the other things that PKP does to try to make sure that we support this global community, we have a long history of really working towards building trust with the community, of working as an open source project that's being based within the academic community, for the academic community.
JUAN PABLO ALPERIN: And so we're not seen as a group that is trying to separate value from what's going on in academia, but rather a group that's working from within really trying to do good and serve that work. We've demonstrated that we put, with very little, in some cases very few resources, people are often surprised to know how small the project has been over the years, have always demonstrated that we're willing to take on costs or make efforts even when they are not financially viable, and there's no financial case.
JUAN PABLO ALPERIN: The PKP Preservation Network is something that has been a challenge to staff or to find resources or funding for, but something that we feel very responsible to do because as we see the growth in the use of the software, we feel that this content needs to be preserved. And so it's just one example of the things that we do to make sure that the community is well-served, even above and beyond when it puts strains on our resources to do other things.
JUAN PABLO ALPERIN: And very much we work in alignment with our mission. The software is open source because we're trying to promote open public knowledge and open access. And so there's an alignment there in the way that we operate. And related to that is we work and created the software in a way that never locks people in. So people can feel sort of trust that they can install the software, but if they ever want to leave it, if we ever disappear, all of their content is available to them.
JUAN PABLO ALPERIN: Everything has been implemented-- and I don't just say this because we're here now-- implemented everything using all of the industry standards, including freedom from the open archives initiative, metadata harvesting protocol, to making sure Dublin Core tags are displayed on pages, that everything is available. Trying to again, follow the best practices and standards so that the software is fully interoperable with every other service that's out there so that the content is not locked in and that people can sort of and trust the software that is really operating in their best interest.
JUAN PABLO ALPERIN: I leave it there, because I think that's where we can sort of start and open up a conversation about the way that PKP has become an integral part of the scholarly publishing infrastructure, really serving to allow content from all parts of the world to be created and be made available online. And not just in the global community as users of research or as people that need to be given access, but as really being for members that can be here to publish and make their content and their knowledge open and available to all.
JUAN PABLO ALPERIN: Thank you.
ANDREW JOSEPH: Hello, I'm Andrew Joseph. I'm the digital publisher at Wits University Press based in Johannesburg in South Africa. We're a small mission-based mainly HHS press, publishing books, journals, and involved in some digitization projects. My approach to this discussion is very much as a small publisher from the global South. And I hope to be able to engage with this as fully as possible. This topic covers very many detailed and wide-ranging ideas, most of which will rely on nuance and multiple engagements to really make sense of.
ANDREW JOSEPH: I don't want to, but I fear that given the nature of these sorts of discussions, my contribution may be considered glib at times. I will try to avoid that as much as possible. Perhaps a sound place to begin is to give some context for South African research, based on the ISI reports and on the Internal Department of Higher Education and Training reports on this. So international collaboration in South Africa makes up about 60% of our research.
ANDREW JOSEPH: We also have the second highest proportion of female researchers in the G20. We're have very strong impact in medicine and health-related research, with relatively low output, and the corollary from the converse for HSS, where we have a high output and low impact. We've seen a general increase in output for articles up to about 7% or 8%. And in book production, up to about 19%.
ANDREW JOSEPH: On the whole research and research output in South Africa is growing at about the rate of about 12%. What we don't see is a corresponding increase in publications by local publishers. What's apparent from this is that most researchers are choosing to publish with non-local publishers, or overseas, as we colloquially describe it. The scholarly publishing community in South Africa are experiencing what many publishers in the US and the UK experienced a few years ago.
ANDREW JOSEPH: This increase in automated processes, a widening skills gap which is reducing the role of freelance editors and typesetters, increased outsourcing, and things of that nature. At some level, this is an existential crisis. On another, it's an indication of an entrenched complacency in a market of local dominance. Whether or not one wants to apportion blame, the stark reality that many publishers face is that their world has changed.
ANDREW JOSEPH: Researchers and institutions rightly expect services and products to be available for their work to be more discoverable and more widely used. Briefly, what we deal with is monolithic institutional policy-driven decisions about technology and services. The value of infrastructure and infrastructure investment is not strongly connected enough, is not connected strongly enough to ongoing sustainability.
ANDREW JOSEPH: And investment in infrastructure is not seen as providing an immediate enough return on investment. Apart from the actual cost of infrastructure, there are additional costs for the implementation, for the various variations and requirements, skill development, business planning. For the medium to long-term, we need to consider what skills development will be required for the management and maintenance of this infrastructure.
ANDREW JOSEPH: So cost being a much more complex thing than the simple sticker price. The other thing we deal with is, does the service operate on a for-profit or not-for-profit model? And if it's for profit, who benefits from this politically? How do we relate to this? And do appropriate economies of scale exist for the pricing model? If it is not for profit, then how sustainable is it?
ANDREW JOSEPH: How regularly are updates done or necessary? And what level of support is provided or necessary? Long-term planning therefore becomes very difficult, if not impossible, with these short-term driven and justifiably more immediate social and economic pressures that we face. The focus of national policy bodies and government is on research production not on output, not an output localization, and not in the strengthening of local publishing.
ANDREW JOSEPH: In many ways, the content and data that we generate is considered a byproduct of institutional investment. Future access, use, attribution, these are regarded as unnecessary to the stronger pressures exerted by institutional mandates, which are to increase output and impact. So I suppose the question might be, if everything is digital and open access and available and affordable, why should we care who it's published by or where?
ANDREW JOSEPH: This has emphasized the focus of local scholarly publishers on production and local availability. International dissemination is undertaken mostly through distribution agents with prescribed minimal requirements in place. We have a rudimentary and not entirely successful profit and loss thinking out of necessity and out of these. The role of northern hemisphere-based multinational publishers and university presses with outreach in places such as this is complex.
ANDREW JOSEPH: They provide excellent services to researchers and to institutions. And they add considerable weight to their output, services that most local publishers do not or are not able to offer for a number of reasons. The split in offering is contributing to a dual layer of output types, and product differentiation in availability price and in the measurements of value. The implementations of various internationally accepted and required services is therefore retrofitted onto existing more traditional processes and operations, and adds another layer to this digital divide.
ANDREW JOSEPH: The disconnect emanates from this and is relevant to our topic today. In a situation where the immediate needs of institutions are met are made externally to support-- I'm so sorry. So in the situation where the immediate needs of the institutions are met externally, the need to support to provide this internally disappears, and an enforced and entrenched parochialism does begin to emerge.
ANDREW JOSEPH: So institutional support for this disappears, and then inter-institutional competition hops up. Perhaps a big implication is the lack of engagement that the external solutions have with local expertise. Locals find themselves frustrated and exhausted by continually having to justify efforts and programs to assert their significance and relevance. There are, of course, engagements with international publishers, and increasingly organizations such as NISO, SSP, the Association of University Presses, and the IPA provide excellent opportunities for these conversations to develop.
ANDREW JOSEPH: This is a rather bleak interpretation, of course, and tells a part of a story that just imagines that it's made up of halves. There are several publishers, organizations, and institutions who are actively involving themselves in addressing these issues. What one hopes these will yield are the necessary nuance to manage the complexity, and the political will to advance these interests through coordinated activity.
ANDREW JOSEPH: Before I propose a few solutions, I wanted to make a few more substantial and direct observations, particularly relating to the topic, or directly relating to the topic. We must understand globalization as an effect of history. Not only, but also including colonial relations, and in South Africa, of apartheid. We're not equal participants in a shared economy, but we enter into these interactions based on deeply skewed relationships.
ANDREW JOSEPH: I want to debunk the notion of the global village. The technological, economic, and social gap has widened massively since Hillary first appropriated this phrase. Power imbalances are very observable at this level. In my particular context, institutional inequalities and exclusions created under apartheid were never fully confronted, but have merely resurfaced as market inequalities.
ANDREW JOSEPH: We've observed from the Washington Consensus, the Millennium Development Goals, and the Seoul Development Consensus, a series of continuous steps to consolidate corporate advantage. Particularly problematic in this has been the involvement of the private sector in infrastructure provision. The focus on economic growth, not on economic development, and a lack of regulation has really aided this.
ANDREW JOSEPH: Second observation would be that national and inter-institutional competitiveness are a barrier to successful implementation. And I would suggest a move to a national and regional cooperative partnership, which is happening in the case of several African research universities combining efforts and coordinating efforts as best they can. Thirdly, the role of big tech and big tech ideas.
ANDREW JOSEPH: To be very clear, disruption is not revolution. Big tech prophets and evangelists pursue their interests and profitability pretty much as any other corporation would. They do exaggerate social outcomes attached to business propositions in the name of connectedness, convenience, progress. We see the sacrifice of labor rights, the devaluing of existing skills, the decimation of subsets of industries, and the geographic exclusion of people in neighborhoods.
ANDREW JOSEPH: This is not to take anything away from the massive achievements they make, simply the effects of them in infrastructure in South Africa. So thirdly, the role of big tech and big tech ideas. To be very clear, disruption is not revolution. Big tech, its profits and evangelists, pursue their interests and profitability pretty much as any corporation would. They exaggerate social outcomes attached to business propositions in the name of connectedness, convenience, and progress.
ANDREW JOSEPH: We see the sacrifice of labor rights, the devaluing of existing skills, and the decimation of subsets of industries. We have firsthand experience of this in South Africa with an attempted sponsorship of the copyright bill of South Africa by a big tech company, which would reduce copyright in South Africa to a powerlessness that would only benefit companies which provide free content.
ANDREW JOSEPH: To paraphrase John Lanchester, if it's free, then the product's probably you. Fourthly, historians and political analysts have pointed to the erosion of the social and political order we've become accustomed to since the 1990s. In conjunction with or perhaps because of it, we have a rise in populism, right-wing demagoguery, and flagrant abuses of political power. There's a rapid disintegration of the foundations which underpin human knowledge and our industry.
ANDREW JOSEPH: The casualties being science, truth, and more general humanity sacrificed at the altar of expedient political advantage. Practically, we observe a distrust in scientific developments, peer review, and across discrediting of theory, such as critical race theory. So if globalization merely perpetuates the divide, how do we perform our core functions?
ANDREW JOSEPH: How do we improve our skills, engage with the wider world, and bring about a significant change? Further, how do we in the South both distinguish ourselves, articulate our needs and our plans to realize them, actively and consider and confidently? How do we participate in the wider scholarly world? We don't want to be passive recipients of systems and standards. But what are we doing to develop our own and to engage with others?
ANDREW JOSEPH: How do we balance independence and collaboration? Where and how can we involve ourselves, and how can we even lead initiatives? So here are a few pithy suggestions, which I look forward to bringing into the discussion later, and taking forward in other discussions after NISO Plus. So let's firstly continue these sorts of engagements, these sorts of discussions with a wide range of people from all over the place.
ANDREW JOSEPH: I think they're really important to both strengthening our arguments and honing them. And secondly, let's consider a move away from this globalization approach, of overgeneralized standardization, and rather look to an internationalized interoperability. A precursor to this, thirdly, are the requirements the necessity for increased discussion and partnerships?
ANDREW JOSEPH: And I think this should move beyond BRICs and the G20 and the OECD. There simply aren't enough of these unmediated, direct, practical conversation taking at the level of publishers, especially scholarly publishers. Clearly articulated, honest, and practical programs of coordinated action or what's needed. We should look at languages other than English. These have implications for metadata, for discovery, for usage.
ANDREW JOSEPH: And let's move beyond the blind nationalism in addressing these. We should use all available resources while amending these to meet particular needs. I think we should avoid the trap that revolutions are delivered through technology, investment, the promise of equity. Rather, we should engage meaningfully with technology as a tool. We should drive policy changes to aid this.
ANDREW JOSEPH: We should insist on regulation enforcement. And assist younger colleagues to begin working towards their future goals. This is particularly true for new value chains, such as open access to books being a massively unresolved issue at this point. We must recognize progressive, decolonization, feminist, anti-racist, and disability-inclusive projects as cultural players and programs we devise around DEI or transformation.
ANDREW JOSEPH: I'm very glad to see that publishing is finally beginning to have these discussions. Transformation can take on many guises, and my hope is that this is substantive and radical. Thank you very much. I look forward to discussing this with the rest of the panel in the discussion later.
NATASHA SIMONS: OK, so hello, everyone. My name is Natasha Simons. I'm the associate director for data and services at the ARDC, the Australian Research Data Commons. And I'm going to be focusing today on an opportunity to develop a persistent identifier called Grade for Research Projects to take it from a national scale opportunity to a global scale opportunity. So first, a little bit of information about the Australian Research Data Commons.
NATASHA SIMONS: So we are funded by the Australian federal government to provide Australian researchers with a competitive advantage through data. And our mission is to accelerate research and innovation by driving excellence in the creation, analysis, and retention of high quality data assets. And we do that through co-investment partnerships with other Australian research institutions, universities, and other organizations across the country.
NATASHA SIMONS: I wanted to start by acknowledging and celebrating the first Australians on whose traditional lands I live and work, and pay my respect to their elders past, present, and emerging. I'm in Brisbane, so I'm paying respect to the Turnbull and Yagara peoples. So I'm going to assume a bit of knowledge here that you are aware of the use of PIDs or Persistent Identifiers to identify sight, track, and connect researchers and research outputs, such as fair articles and in data.
NATASHA SIMONS: So the ARDC provides PID services on a national scale free of charge to the Australian Research sector. So here is an example of these-- these are the PIDs in our portfolio. So we are the data site consortium lead, offering DOIs for research data software, rare literature, instruments, now data management plan identifiers, and so on. We offer raid for research projects, which will be a focus of this discussion today.
NATASHA SIMONS: We are also an allocating agency for the International Geo Sample Number for physical samples collected during the course of research. We issue pearls for research grants for our two major granting agencies and research funders in Australia, and we hope that we will be moving to DOIs in the future. For those, that will be through Crossref. And we have a handle service for data that's not applicable to using a DOI.
NATASHA SIMONS: And we partner with the Australian Access Federation, who lead the Australian ORCID consortium. And so this combination of the ARDC PID services, combined with those that the ORCID consortium offered through the Australian Access Federation, are the backbone of enabling fair research outputs through persistent identifiers in Australia. And by FAIR, I'm course I'm talking about Findable, Accessible, Interoperable Reusable, the principles by which I'm sure you're all familiar.
NATASHA SIMONS: So to move the focus onto RAiD, which in the context of this talk is the opportunity to globalize information infrastructure. So RAiD is short for Research Activity Identifier. It's a persistent identifier for research projects. Its managed currently by the Australian Research Data Commons. And it basically consists of an identifier, which is a handle. You can see on the label there.
NATASHA SIMONS: The 102.100 is the RAiD identifier. And then within that, it groups different activities that happen through the course of a research project. So I'll unpack that a little bit. So just to make a distinction here between grants and projects, because this is something that's not actually well understood, as I've discovered in my conversations with people internationally, that a research grant is something that you get.
NATASHA SIMONS: So you apply for funding, and a funding agency gives you a grant. And then you go away and you do the project. So the project is the thing that you do after you get the grant. So these things will actually require two different types of identifiers. So generally we would talk about issuing a Crossref DOI for grants and a RAiD would cover the projects. So project activities, they might include the researchers and the research team involved in the project, the data management plan that's created, the research infrastructure that's used, such as storage infrastructure, or platforms that are used during the course of that project.
NATASHA SIMONS: Writing reports, publishing articles, software, and so on. And a project changes over time. So how do we track or keep a container on all the things that happen during the course of a project? So the RAiD puts the project at the center of the research life cycle here. So you have a persistent identifier in RAiD for the project. And we can then record in the RAiD metadata envelope the identifiers and the activities that happened that are related to the project.
NATASHA SIMONS: So the RORII, for example, the Research Organization Registry Identifier for Institutions the DOIs for the data sets, the DOIs for the published outputs, as well as listing the ORCID identifiers for the project team, the grant identifiers for the funder, and so forth. So just a brief look at it. You have the handle on the left, the number of-- that's the RAiD identifier, and then you have a look here at the metadata envelope, the types of things that are recorded here.
NATASHA SIMONS: So basically a container for all the activities that happen during the course of a project. That is quite useful when it comes to government reporting exercises or institutions needing to keep track on which projects are using which type of storage, and what are they using, and so forth. And keeping track of as researchers come and go through the course of the project.
NATASHA SIMONS: And you can see that you can also have RAiDs as sub-projects within a RAiD project as well. So we have a huge interest in RAiD internationally. So in the UK, there was a report that came out last year from the UK PID consortium funded by JSC in the UK that listed five priority PIDs that if invested in, could save 5.67 million pounds over a five-year period for the UK Research Sector, which may or may not be a lot of money depending on where you sit.
NATASHA SIMONS: But it was the bottom level figure, the absolute baseline. And it could be extrapolated to go up quite largely from that. It was based on a single re-use of the metadata associated with the PID. And RAiD is one of those priority PIDs listed in that report, We are also partnering with Data Site, the Max Planck Institute, and others to provide RAiD in a project called Fair Workflows, which you can find out more about on the Data Site website.
NATASHA SIMONS: We also have interest in using RAiD from a wide variety of countries. And we are going through the International Standards Organization certification process, the ISO certification process for RAiD as well. We recently have formed a RAiD advisory group. And to give you a feel for where people come from in that advisory group that will show you the International interest.
NATASHA SIMONS: So we have Data Site, Research Data Canada, Crossref, ORCID, RORII, NISO. Just in the UK, the More Brains Co-operative, who issued the report and in the UK, that I mentioned, are CERF in the Netherlands, as well as the American Geophysical Union, the Australian Access Federation, and the ARDC. So that gives you a bit of a flavor. But beyond those representatives, we've also had interest from the global South, as well.
NATASHA SIMONS: So that's really good to see. So moving on to the challenges of globalizing RAiD. So I've put this down into four major challenges. So the first one is in the area of governance. And I've taken this graphic from the World Economic Forum, but I think it's quite a nice bibliographic to explore the challenge of good governance of persistent identifiers. And I think we're taking our cue here from the Principles of Open Scholarly Infrastructure.
NATASHA SIMONS: If you haven't heard of that, it's called POSI, P-O-S-I. And in that they have quite a good set of recommendations around governance. For example, that it's governed by the stakeholders, that the process is open and transparent, which speaks to the integrity piece, and within the ARDC, one of our core values is transparency. So that fits very well into that. It's also governance which is non-discriminatory, so it's an opt-in process of membership.
NATASHA SIMONS: And that you have coverage across the research enterprise that transcends disciplines, geography, institutions, stakeholders. In other words, is international, globally applicable in research. And that is a challenge to move RAiD into that space. And I'm hoping that with that diversity on the RAiD advisory group, which is not a governance group, but solely an advisory group that has no authority over RAiD, that we will actually move to it's a governance structure that could promote that such as the one that is in place for ORCID.
NATASHA SIMONS: A secondary challenge that I see is a technical challenge. So we need to create software and coding that enables RAiD to be easily out-of-the-box. Adoptable, it can be easily adopted. That it's low barrier. That it's using a code base that's commonly used, or easily transferred. And that, in other words, is open source and low or no cost.
NATASHA SIMONS: And that potentially in the future, other agencies, if we diversify into registration authorities similar to a DOI structure, that they can actually build on and customize and use that infrastructure. A third sort of challenge that I see is in the community area. And to grow RAiD, if we have the technical and governance in place, and we don't have the community adoption, it's not really going to go anywhere.
NATASHA SIMONS: So this is really important. And it's not just take RAiD and use it, but really it's fostering a community in which people feel a part of the process of RAiD, and that they can feed back their user requirements, and their needs. They can see it developed. That they feel a sense of ownership of RAiD. And capturing the use cases that they have, and building RAiD to meet those use cases is also very important.
NATASHA SIMONS: So the actual engagement with community piece. And the last challenge I wanted to explore was sustainability. So this is a really big one for all infrastructure. Because in research, a lot of infrastructure tends to come from project funding. And when the funding disappears, what happens to the project or the infrastructure that's been built? Who sustains that?
NATASHA SIMONS: Who has ownership of that? How does it continue to stay relevant and be developed? And that's a really big question for us to look at. So at the moment, we offer RAiDs free of charge. However, the ARDC, as people know, is funded by the Australian government. And is that really a sustainable thing internationally? So that's why we're looking at a related governance structure around something like registration authorities, which might exist in other countries.
NATASHA SIMONS: But again, I would bring it back to the principles of open scholarly infrastructure, which talk specifically to sustainability around things like not having a dependency on a particular grant to run something. So the infrastructure shouldn't be dependent on that. And generating some surplus, and having contingency planning. So if the ARDC suddenly disappears, what will happen to the RAiDs?
NATASHA SIMONS: How will they transition onto another provider? What will happen to the RAiDs that have been issued so far? That needs to be in the planning, and that is a challenge if we're going to move RAiD forward as a global standard. So just to end with a brief glimpse at our RAiD roadmap, for those who are interested. So we have recruited more people into the RAiD team towards the end of last year, so that in 2022 we can focus on rapid technical development and the community and governance focus, some of which I've spoken to.
NATASHA SIMONS: And then in 2023, look at growing RAiD use and adoption, which a big focus will be international collaboration. So that brings me to the end of the talk, and thank you for listening. And I hope you got something out of it. And love to hear your comments. I've included my contact details here if you wanted to get in touch with me directly, and also some further details about ARDC if you wanted to find out more information there.
NATASHA SIMONS: OK, thank you. [MUSIC PLAYING]