CERN Workshop on Innovations in Scholarly Communication (OAI9) by Frank Manista

Representatives from Jisc attended OAI9 from 17-19 June in Geneva Switzerland, where many institutions and individuals discussed a variety of rich undertakings around Open Access. Here are some highlights that I thought would be of interest:

Main Take-Aways:

  • Researchers want a clearer shift toward open science/access, leading to diminishing importance of traditional journals
  • The three goals for OA’s impact on research are make it open, make it better, and make it more efficient
  • There remains a lot of uncertainty about the rights to share and make things open
  • Workflows are rarely as efficient as they could be and almost never intuitive
  • More needs to be done regarding researcher practices

Beyond Open Access:

In an interesting turn for a title, Michael Nielsen asked “OA to what, exactly?”  We all understand the important of Open Access for research, and although there are some disagreements regarding whether Green or Gold is preferred, Nielsen’s question underscored that if OA is really going to have significant impact, it cannot simply be about digital versions of traditional journal articles. “OA has the potential to amplify our individual and collective intelligence” but only, he argues, if we attach it to new media forms, such as the iPython notebook, which allows for the exposition of abstract data and discussion tied to the ability to manipulate coding as a practical application of the information. It has the ability to integrate the best tools for exploration and discovery, and could potentially take us to a point where we begin to ask very new and very unique sorts of questions. Therefore, Open Access is only part of the join up; what else is necessary are policies crafted to ensure that we don’t inhibit innovation by constraining experimentation.

Barriers and Potential Impact:

Dr Erin McKiernan spoke about the potential risks academics take if they stand firm on their preference for Open Access, particularly if they refuse to publish in more traditional routes. Within the presentation, McKiernan posited a number of things that an individual researcher can do to improve the situation regarding Open Access:

  • Commit to make the work open
  • Do not edit, review any work for closed access journals
  • Blog work and post preprints when possible
  • Publish only in OA journals
  • Share code and data, when possible

As she said, doing these things as an individual, early career academic can be risky but if a researcher is going to be successful in disseminating her research as Open Access, it has to be on terms she can live with.


Jisc has had ongoing discussions with both CHORUS and SHARE during the pilot phase of Jisc Monitor, and both organisations were represented at the conference. Chorus sees itself as an “information bridge, supporting agency search portals and leveraging publishers’ existing infrastructure to facilitate a simple compliance process, optimized search and dashboard services, and multi-party archiving and preservation capabilities.” The CHORUS work is complementary to SHARE which is working to create an open data set about research activities across their life cycle, which will be a comprehensive inventory of research and be widely accessible, discoverable and reusable. and

Quality Assurance:

PLOS, a publisher with which Jisc has had some significant connections, presented on PLOS 1, with a particular focus on peer-review and the difficulties that it brings with traditional modes of dissemination, noting that research is increasingly cross-disciplinary, but many reviewers are not. It was posited one solution could be collaboration with readers might improve peer-review, and it’s cheaper and brings its own incentives: and Connected, Janne-Tuomas Seppänen presented on Peerage of Science (, which is launching its later this year, which already boasts 1086 peer reviewed evaluations, 469 peer reviews, 1928 scientists, 728 institutions, 69 countries, and all reviews are validated. The way it works is authors submit a manuscript before submitting to any journal; once submitted, any qualified, non-affiliated peer can engage to review the manuscript. Peer reviews are themselves peer reviewed, increasing and quantifying the quality of peer review.

Catriona MacCallum, also from PLOS, presented on a number of items that Jisc has been directly tied to, particularly ESAC, which works to help with the administration of APCs; she underscored that transparency is simply “intelligent openness” because greater transparency can improve on the reproducibility and reliability of research results. Publications are not, nor were they ever meant to be simply a static record of research, and what PLOS and Jisc see in terms of their OA efforts is a recognition that publication can again become “a scholarly communication junction box”.

We also heard the message in the Jisc breakout session that I ran with Torsten Reimer from Imperial College London that there remains the need for more consistent standards among the various systems, such as CRIS systems and institutional repositories for example, and greater international consistencies could benefit the monitoring and reporting of the costs of Open Access, as well as meeting local and international policies.

Here is a link to the conference website. To access images and recordings from the sessions, click inside the time-tabling box for a list of titles and then click the title that interests you:

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