Improving Future Research Communication and e-Scholarship

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* Manifesto: The Force 11 Manifesto: Improving Future Research Communication and e-Scholarship. Edited by Phil E. Bournea, Tim Clarkb, et al. Contributors: Bradley P. Allend, Aliaksandr Birukouh, et al.

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"Research and scholarship lead to the generation of new knowledge. The dissemination of this knowledge has a fundamental impact on the ways in which society develops and progresses, and at the same time it feeds back to improve subsequent research and scholarship. Here, as in so many other areas of human activity, the internet is changing the way things work: it opens up opportunities for new processes that can accelerate the growth of knowledge, including the creation of new means of communicating that knowledge among researchers and within the wider community. Two decades of emergent and increasingly pervasive information technology have demonstrated the potential for far more effective scholarly communication. However, the use of this technology remains limited; research processes and the dissemination of research results have yet to fully assimilate the capabilities of the web and other digital media. Producers and consumers remain wedded to formats developed in the era of print publication, and the reward systems for researchers remain tied to those delivery mechanisms.

Force 11 (the Future of Research Communication and e-Scholarship) is a community of scholars, librarians, archivists, publishers and research funders that has arisen organically to help facilitate the change toward improved knowledge creation and sharing. Individually and collectively, we aim to bring about a change in scholarly communication through the effective use of information technology. Force11 has grown from a small group of like-minded individuals into an open movement with clearly identified stakeholders associated with emerging technologies, policies, funding mechanisms and business models. While not disputing the expressive power of the written word to communicate complex ideas, our foundational assumption is that scholarly communication by means of semantically-enhanced media-rich digital publishing is likely to have a greater impact than communication in traditional print media or electronic facsimiles of printed works. However, to date, online versions of ‘scholarly outputs’ have tended to replicate print forms, rather than exploit the additional functionalities afforded by the digital terrain. We believe that digital publishing of enhanced papers will enable more effective scholarly communication, which will also broaden to include, for example, better links to data, the publication of software tools, mathematical models, protocols and workflows, and research communication by means of social media channels.

This document highlights the findings of the Force11 workshop on the Future of Research Communication and e-Scholarship held at Schloss Dagstuhl, Germany, in August 2011: it summarizes a number of key problems facing scholarly publishing today, and presents a vision that addresses these problems, proposing concrete steps that key stakeholders can take to improve the state of scholarly publishing. More about Force11 can be found at This White Paper is a collaborative effort that reflects the input of all Force11 attendees at the Dagstuhl Workshop1, and is very much a living document. We see it as a starting point that will grow and be updated and augmented by individual and collective efforts by the participants and others. We invite you to join and contribute to this enterprise.


About This Document: This document contains five sections. Section 1 presents our vision of the future of scholarly publishing. In Section 2, we outline six key problems that prevent scholarly communication from achieving its full potential. Section 3 contains six specific recommendations for actions to address these problems. Section 4 offers a dynamic list of pointers to relevant research reports and related projects.

Finally, in Section 5 we describe what we are doing to implement these recommendations.

The problems and recommendations we perceive can be grouped into two groups, each containing three principal themes:

Themes 1–3 concern the format and technologies of scholarly publication: how scholarly data, information, and knowledge are (or could be) represented; how readers, users, authors, editors and computers can interact with these representations; and how different knowledge representations could be combined, queried, stored and otherwise treated.

Themes 4–6 concern the enterprise of scholarly publishing, including business models and the attribution of credit. In these sections we discuss how scholarship is evaluated, accredited and monetized; current and new models and modes of assigning copyright and intellectual property rights; the financial aspects of scholarly publishing; and the mechanisms for assessing the quality and value of researchers and their research outputs, and of attributing credit and worth to them.

The problems relating to these six themes are described in Section 2, while our recommendations for their solutions are described in Section 3. These problems and recommendations are summarized in the following table."