SCI 2016 Theme

Incentives, Economics, and Values: Changing the Political Economy of Scholarly Publishing

The scholarly publishing ecosystem is undergoing transformation, with new technologies creating both opportunities and challenges to traditional publication models. Underlying these models are economic and behavioral patterns developed over time in response to sets of incentives. What can scholars, universities, and funders do to help re-align the incentives and economics of scholarly publishing with the values of academia? How can we set conditions to enable the greatest benefit to be achieved at the lowest cost? How can we ensure that the system is not biased in favor of those who already have status, and does not inhibit a diversity of perspectives from being heard? What models could we put in place to help high quality publications to be financially sustainable, build stronger communities of stakeholders, surface the true costs, and fairly reward those who are doing the work?

Illustration by Kyle BeanThis year’s Triangle Scholarly Communication Institute invites teams to explore these and other questions related to the political economy of scholarly publishing, to develop plans, to test processes, to come to agreements, and to launch initiatives. SCI is an ideal place to bring together perspectives and expertise that may not normally intersect, and to build understandings and new models based on them. We encourage pragmatic, proactive optimism, and hope stakeholders in the scholarly publishing ecosystem will use SCI as a platform to nurture positive change.

Some ideas for potential participants, teams, and projects:

  • bring together collection development librarians and research funders to develop plans for how they might work together to shift the
    funding and incentives landscape on a broad scale – not one researcher at a time, but across publishers and institutions and scholarly societies.
  • bring together leadership and stakeholders in scholarly societies and the editors and publishers of society journals to better understand the real costs and incentives and pressures of running both a society and a journal, and to develop plans for funding and operational models other than subscription revenue that would allow both of these to continue operations sustainably.
  • bring together fundraisers, marketing experts, funding agencies, and philanthropists to help develop plans for building a larger base of support for scholarly publications, including development of endowments and a sustaining community of stakeholders.
  • bring together university administrators to engage in thoughtful (re)consideration of incentives and rewards – how these are structured now, why, and how they might be restructured to encourage different kinds of activities and different kinds of methods and marketplaces for scholarly publication.
  • include members of communities underrepresented or disadvantaged in research and academia, to help understand the difficulties they face, the reasons why this continues, and how to help ensure that scholarly publishing is inclusive and free of bias, both in existing and emerging publication models.
  • include early career researchers, undergraduate, graduate, and professional students, and independent scholars, to help understand the challenges and aspirations of these communities, and to help ensure that the emerging scholarly publishing landscape serves their needs too.
  • include behavioral economists, anthropologists, ethicists, and political scientists to help understand the incentives and power structures that lead stakeholders in the scholarly publishing ecosystem to behave in the way they do, and to develop ethical models for shifting incentives to produce more universally positive outcomes.

All of the above are only suggestions to spark ideas that you might use in your own proposal. We hope you will bring your own perspective and address needs of your community or communities you work with, and that you will be creative in engaging with others who have different perspectives that could complement or serve as a helpful foil to your own.

If you’re interested in participating, please see and reply to this Request for Proposals (submission deadline is 14 March 2016).

[ Image by Kyle Bean, used under a CC license. ]