Major research grant supports new open scholarship initiative

Friday, 7 August 2020

The global upheaval caused by COVID-19 has highlighted a need for academics to find ways to share their research quickly, freely and with large audiences. But open scholarship continues to pose significant hurdles for researchers worldwide.

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A new, interdisciplinary seven-year project seeks to overcome those challenges and is being led by Global Innovation Chair in Digital Humanities at the University of Newcastle Professor Ray Siemens, a member of the Newcastle’s Centre for 21st Century Humanities.

The Centre for 21st Century Humanities is a partner in the Canadian-Australian Partnership for Open Scholarship (CAPOS), a collaboration which aims to advance the understanding of, and resolve crucial issues in, the production, distribution, and engagement of open, digital scholarship.

The key Canadian cluster in CAPOS—the INKE Partnership (led by Professor Siemens at his home university, the University of Victoria Canada) has recently been awarded a 2020–27 Partnership Grant from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC) of Canada, valued at almost $2.5 million for the project Implementing Open Scholarship: Foundations for Social Engagement at Scale. This $2,497,150 investment from SSHRC is matched by nearly $3,250,000 in cash and in-kind contributions from partner organizations and institutions across Canada and Australia.

Professor Siemens says community-engaged, open, digital scholarship is a significant undertaking for the research community and is critical for facilitating public access to and engagement with research.

“This is especially true during times of global upheaval, when the research community may have a bigger role than ever to play—and as a mechanism of growing digital scholarly infrastructure,” he said.

However, the path to adopting open, digital scholarship on a global scale is challenged by several issues including the difficulty in sustaining access to publicly funded research, the lack of public-facing infrastructure to share digital research, the growth in free but illegitimate online content among the public, and a lack of training for researchers.

Professor Siemens says this new funding will facilitate research to address challenges with scholarly communication by providing broad access to research, community training, public engagement, and policy recommendations.

“Ultimately, the group’s central goal is to foster “open social scholarship”: academic practice that enables the creation, dissemination, and engagement of open research by specialists and non-specialists in accessible and significant ways.”

The INKE Partnership will strengthen open scholarly communication among Humanities and Social Sciences (HSS) researchers, organizations, and the public by developing the Canadian HSS Commons — an in-development, national, online research commons, as well as digital scholarship skills training, development, and awareness-building initiatives.

“It will also develop expertise by providing training in the creation, use, and mobilisation of knowledge through an Open Scholarship Training Program. Through a Public Digital Scholarship Prototypes and Initiatives stream, it will develop best practices for community engagement through open scholarship. The partnership will also engage relevant policy issues through an Open Scholarship Policy Observatory. These approaches to opening scholarship will facilitate wider engagement with publicly-funded research by the communities it is intended to serve,” Professor Siemens said.

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