Living Our Values and Principles: Exploring Assessment Strategies for the Scholarly Communication Field

The Next Generation Library Publishing project has published a report that seeks to improve the publishing pathways and choices available to authors, editors and readers

Through the Next Generation Library Publishing project (2019-2022), Educopia Institute, California Digital Library, and Stratos, in close collaboration with COAR, LYRASIS, and Longleaf Services, seek to improve the publishing pathways and choices available to authors, editors, and readers through strengthening, integrating, and scaling up scholarly publishing infrastructures to support library publishers. In addition to building publishing tools and workflows, the team is exploring how to create community hosting models that align explicitly and demonstratively with academic values. 

Living Our Values and Principles: Exploring Assessment Strategies for the Scholarly Communication Field explores the relationship between today’s varied scholarly publishing service providers and the academic values that its authors, Katherine Skinner (keynote speaker at Internet Librarian International in 2018) and Sarah Wipperman, along with the ten editors and two reviewers (one of whom, Yvonne Marie Campfens was also a keynote speaker at Internet Librarian International in 2019) believe should guide their work. They begin with a brief definition of the academic mission and then briefly probe how profit motivations have come to dominate the current scholarly publishing marketplace. They consider and analyze how academic players from a range of stakeholder backgrounds have produced a broad range of “values and principles” statements, documents and manifestos in hopes of recalibrating the scholarly publishing landscape. They contextualize this work within the broader landscape of assessment against values and principles.

Based on the findings, they recommend that academic stakeholders more concretely define their values and principles in terms of measurable actions, so these statements can be readily assessed and audited. They propose a methodology for auditing publishing service providers to ensure adherence to agreed-upon academic values and principles, with the dual goals of helping to guide values-informed decision making by academic stakeholders and encouraging values alignment efforts by infrastructure providers. They also explore ways to structure this assessment framework both to avoid barriers to entry and to discourage the kinds of “gaming the system” activities that so often accompany audits and ranking mechanisms. The report closes by pointing to other work recently undertaken: the development of the Values and Principles Framework and Assessment Checklist, which were issued for public comment in July-August, 2020 on CommonPlace (hosted by the Knowledge Futures Group).  

Those involved in the project are grateful for the generous support of this work by Arcadia -- a charitable fund of Lisbet Rausing and Peter Baldwin -- and are deeply appreciate the engagement so many had with an early version of this paper during its public review period in the spring of 2020, then titled “Encouraging Adherence to Values and Principles.” We incorporated feedback from that review period into this publication before its finalization and release in October 2020.