People reflected in water

Community, collaboration, and the commons

Note: Sadly, we must announce that this year’s Triangle Scholarly Communication Institute will be canceled due to the ongoing uncertainty over the spread of Coronavirus/COVID-19 and the health, travel, and economic constraints related to it. Please see this announcement for more information.

When librarians, publishers, and academics talk about “scholarly communication,” we usually have a particular definition in mind: “the system through which research and other scholarly writings are created, evaluated for quality, disseminated to the scholarly community, and preserved for future use.” But “scholarly community” is curiously left undefined.

Who is part of this community, and do we really mean to limit scholarly communications dissemination to them? What about the “public”? What about the subjects of our research? Taxpayers? Industry? Students? Most academic authors probably imagine some or all of these as being relevant or important audiences for their work. Yet in many cases the processes, infrastructure, and economics of scholarly communication do not include them, and even when they do, it’s mainly as consumers or supposed beneficiaries of the scholarly work, and not as contributors to it or interlocutors with it.

For the 2020 Triangle Scholarly Communication Institute, we invite proposals from teams that aim to broaden the definition of “community” as it pertains to scholarly communication, and to develop projects and initiatives that will help activate these communities as valued participants in scholarly communication. What can the core constituencies of scholarly communication do to ensure that more of the process is open to collaboration with broader communities, and more of the outputs become part of a globally available commons?

SCI is an opportunity to spend a few days with a diverse set of people to investigate challenges, develop plans, test processes, come to agreements, and 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 participants will use SCI as a platform to nurture positive change.

We invite teams to consider submitting proposals that address questions and issues such as:

  • How is “community” defined in different contexts?
  • How can we create more possibilities for scholars and publics to engage with each other through scholarly communication?
  • How do we determine community values and strengthen community ties and support collaboration and shared resources/commons?
  • Topics could be around linguistic communities, national or cultural or geographic communities, disciplinary communities, academic community vs. broader public community, communities of software developers supporting shared infrastructure, communities of institutions supporting shared programs, etc.
  • Who is part of these communities and who is not; what keeps them in or out, and why?
  • What changes might enable precarious or disadvantaged members of these communities to engage more equitably and benefit more fully?
  • How can scholarly communication help or hinder communities from forming and being sustained?
  • What are the tensions between institutional and disciplinary communities, and how can different practices of scholarly communication help defuse them?
  • How do new technologies and new forms of communication lead to new types of projects and community engagement? How do they lead to formation of new communities?

These examples are meant to spark ideas of the kinds of topics that you might use in your own proposal, not necessarily issues that we expect to be addressed in all proposals. We hope you will bring your own perspective and address the 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 enrich your own.

We especially encourage teams with participants from the “global south”, historically black colleges and universities, Hispanic serving institutions, tribal colleges and universities, community colleges, K-12 schools, independent scholars, and other institutions and backgrounds whose needs and perspectives and communities are often overlooked in discussions about scholarly communication and the infrastructures and processes that support it.

If you’re interested in participating, please review the SCI 2020 Request for Proposals and submit your proposal following the instructions there – proposals are due by May 1, 2020.

More information about the Institute and what it was like in the past can be found in the Frequently Asked Questions and links to past year programs. Ongoing updates will be posted on the web site and the @TriangleSCI Twitter feed.


[Photo by Mario Purisic on Unsplash]