OER Part 2: Open Courses and MOOCs

The following Open Educational Resources (OER) collections include open courses and MOOCs (Massive Open Online Courses) that you can take to supplement your curriculum or simply explore new subjects. Learn more about high-quality open educational resources and OER advocacy by checking out the rest of the series below:

Part 1: Course Content and Textbooks | Part 3: Grants and Advocacy | Part 4: K-12 Resources | Part 5: Articles and Research

Return to OER overview

Continue Reading OER Part 2: Open Courses and MOOCs

Innovation and the Publishing Start-Up

This article originally appeared in the May 2017 issue of Choice magazine.

Note: Choice magazine’s annual University Press Forum offers the perspectives of University Press directors on a variety of topics. This year’s Forum—the 13th in the series—addresses the topic of Innovation at the University Press. Essays from eight University Press directors are included in this year’s Forum, including Bruce Austin, RIT Press; Courtney Burkholder, Texas Tech University Press; Faye Chadwell, Oregon State University Press; Steve Cohn, Duke University Press; Linda Manning, The University of Alabama Press; Gianna Mosser, Liz Hamilton, and Jane Bunker at Northwestern University Press; Mary Rose Muccie, Temple University Press; and yours truly.

John W. Warren
Head, Mason Publishing/George Mason University Press

Statue of George Mason at George Mason UniversityOne of the questions I frequently field, professionally speaking, is: “You’re starting a new university press? I thought many presses are closing.”

As with many, if not most, things these days, perception does not perfectly correlate with reality. Despite the fact scholarly publishing is undergoing a period of change, turmoil, and reinvention, relatively few presses are closing. Many academic institutions continue to see the value in supporting a press and most, if not all, presses do a fair job of breaking even, coming close to breakeven, or generating a modest surplus. Press closures, or attempted press closures, however, receive an exceptional amount of press coverage, social media activity, and activist response from scholars, publishers, and others involved in the scholarly ecosystem. The establishment of a new press, on the other hand, frequently goes unnoticed, for reasons that are understandable—it usually takes a while to make any kind of impact and gain attention.

Although precise numbers are hard to come by, two areas that have grown over the past decade in terms of new presses appear to be academic library publishing and scholarly publishers in developing countries. My institution, George Mason University, provides an example. The University Libraries had been involved in various publishing services for several years, including dissertations and thesis services, scholarly communications, open access journals, and an institutional repository. There had also been a separate effort to establish a university press in the mid-1980s, through a partnership with the University Press of America, formally an imprint of Rowman & Littlefield. Subsequently, an initiative was started in 2007, under the aegis of Mason’s College of Humanities and Social Science, which published a handful of regional titles. In 2014, the University Libraries established a formal publishing program incorporating both library publishing services, under the imprint of Mason Publishing, and the George Mason University Press, to support the creation, dissemination, and curation of scholarly, creative, and educational works.

Our approach to this new publishing venture is as a start-up. Even though we were not exactly starting from scratch, there was no “legacy” operation to be concerned with (nor, unfortunately, a vibrant backlist to fund publishing efforts). The framework of a start-up provides an opportunity to define (or redefine) the priorities, strategies, and tactics to pursue.

As in any start-up, several questions need to be addressed, including but not limited to the following:

  • What is our organization’s (library and university) vision/mission?
  • What are the interests, concerns, and expectations of our stakeholders (administration, staff, partners, funders, audience, etc.)?
  • How important is the pursuit of revenue/profit versus social good?
  • What opportunities exist for growth and innovation?
  • How can we add value and what contribution(s) do we want to make to the world?

As the start-up organization takes shape, it’s crucial to consider what the ideal composition and characteristics of the staff should be. For example, diversity is important and it should not just be “token” diversity. A certain amount of “deviance” can be a good thing, but the right balance is critical. It’s not important that everyone always agrees, but some people disagree with everything as a matter of practice. In a previous organization, a staff member routinely commented on every new idea: “I’ve tried that before and it doesn’t work.” The squeaky wheel gets the grease, but this may be someone you don’t want to work with day after day. Within organizational ethics, positive conformity leads to innovation, experimentation, a change in organizational product or processes, such as continuous improvement and not accepting “what we’ve always done around here.”

More specific questions relevant to a publishing start-up include the following:

  • What is the role and makeup of the advisory or editorial board?
  • What is the role of or focus on open access versus commercial sales?
  • What kind of books do we want to publish?
  • What kind of books do we not want to publish?
  • What other products will add value to our organization?

An important first step was to align our strategic priorities with those of George Mason University. This involved explicitly connecting our specific objectives and tactics with those of Mason’s 2014–2024 Strategic Plan, with the stated priorities and concerns of the University’s Provost, and with the University Libraries’ strategic plan. A few examples that have informed the objectives of our press include Mason’s strategic focus on innovative learning, access, and diversity; creating learning partnerships that emphasize innovation and collaboration; contributing to the cultural vitality of our community through regional partnerships; engaging students in research; supporting excellence in teaching and scholarship; focusing on multidisciplinary research; and elevating research of consequence.

Some of the ways these strategic goals translate into our publishing priorities include increasing the number of student and faculty led journals, particularly those focused on multidisciplinary research; providing increased training and editorial services to these journals; and leveraging our journals platform (Open Journals Systems) for conference proceedings and course use. For example, we approached Mason’s Center for Teaching and Faculty Excellence, proposing a partnership to publish abstracts, presentations, and papers for the annual Innovations in Teaching and Learning Conference, none of which had previously been archived. We are working with an English Composition professor to utilize OJS for peer review of student work in her course, an application that is generating interest among other faculty. We have also reached out to the larger scholarly community by helping to host and publish the papers of the Open Scholarship Initiative conference, a global collaborative effort between all major stakeholders in scholarly publishing to improve the future of how research information gets published, shared, and accessed.

We sought to increase partnerships for faculty collaboration and opportunities for publishing student research by partnering with the Provost Office and Mason Online, Mason’s Office of Digital Learning, to promote the development and publishing of open educational resources (OERs) on campus. Our pilot project is focused on innovative course redesign that reconsiders the materials currently used with the intent purpose to integrate digital materials, with the aim of reducing the cost of instruction for students, improving teaching and learning outcomes, and increasing economic opportunities through open access to quality educational resources. While not a revenue opportunity, this effort adds value to the university by publishing faculty workbooks, open textbooks, and other publications that can be used as OERs both at Mason and beyond.

And yes, we are looking forward to publishing a few scholarly books this fall that will make meaningful contributions to their fields (and, I hope, begin to build a backlist). Another important goal of our press, and we are certainly not alone in this, is to consider and start planning digital opportunities from the very genesis of a new project—not as an afterthought. Meanwhile, we need to continue to seek additional sources of funding for Press projects—subventions, grants, donors, crowdsourcing—and develop a revenue stream that sustains a growing Press publishing program.

Longer term, we plan to implement a rich media journals publishing platform (i.e., Vega, in development at the University of West Virginia) that will support digital research and publications that include multimedia, data, and interactive aspects. Digital humanities are an established strength at Mason, and we aspire to support publication of this innovative research in its diverse forms. This approach underscores the importance of partnerships with other departments in the libraries and centers in the university. These include the Roy Rosenzweig Center for History and New Media, innovative faculty in the English and Rhetoric department, faculty in game design, and others. Our staff is contributing to the development of a new digital scholarship center and a new scholarly production lab within the library.

Several principles help drive innovation and creativity, whether in a start-up or established organization. These include fostering an attitude of openness, of seeking diversity, of being open to criticism and not being afraid to make mistakes, looking for ideas everywhere, identifying hidden talents among staff, and instilling a drive to keep growing and learning. As important as trying new ideas is to jettison the ones that are not working or are no longer adding value to the organization.

It’s also important to ask yourself frequently, “What kind of leader am I? What kind of leader do I want to become?” I like to use the phrase “experiment with intent”—meaning it’s great to experiment and try new things, but have a reason for it, such as what you can learn from the experience, even if the results don’t turn out as well as you hope. Assign important projects to staff, establish stretch goals, deliver feedback that is relevant, review the results, debrief staff, and articulate the business or social implications.

Our quest is to redefine what it means to be a scholarly publisher, to find new ways to tell stories and connect with readers, and to make an impact on the future. As Henry David Thoreau said, “Be not simply good—be good for something.”

Mason Author Series with General Michael V. Hayden, May 4th

The University Libraries, Mason Publishing,
and the University Bookstore

General Michael V. Hayden

book cover for Playing to the EdgeDiscussing his book:  Playing to the Edge: American Intelligence in the Age of Terror

Thursday, May 4th
3:00-4:30 pm
Main Reading Room
Fenwick Library
Fairfax Campus

For General Michael Hayden, playing to the edge means playing so close to the line that you get chalk dust on your cleats. Otherwise, by playing back, you may protect yourself, but you will be less successful in protecting America. “Play to the edge” was Hayden’s guiding principle when he ran the National Security Agency, and it remained so when he ran the CIA.  In his view, many shortsighted and uninformed people are quick to criticize, and this book will give them much to chew on but little easy comfort; it is an unapologetic insider’s look told from the perspective of the people who faced awesome responsibilities head on, in the moment.

How did American intelligence respond to terrorism, a major war and the most sweeping technological revolution in the last 500 years?  What was the NSA before 9/11 and how did it change in its aftermath?  Why did the NSA begin the controversial terrorist surveillance program that included the acquisition of domestic phone records? What else was set in motion during this period that formed the backdrop for the infamous Snowden revelations in 2013?

For 10 years,  then, General Michael Hayden was a participant in some of the most telling events in the annals of American national security. General Hayden’s goals are in writing this book are simple and unwavering: No apologies. No excuses. Just what happened. And why. As he writes, “There is a story here that deserves to be told, without varnish and without spin. My view is my view, and others will certainly have different perspectives, but this view deserves to be told to create as complete a history as possible of these turbulent times. I bear no grudges, or at least not many, but I do want this to be a straightforward and readable history for that slice of the American population who depend on and appreciate intelligence, but who do not have the time to master its many obscure characteristics.”


portrait of Michael V. HaydenGeneral and Distinguished Visiting Professor Michael Hayden is a retired four-star general who served as director of the Central Intelligence Agency and the National Security Agency — the only person to helm both agencies— during a time of heinous new threats and wrenching change. In addition to leading CIA and NSA, General Hayden was the country’s first principal deputy director of national intelligence and the highest-ranking military intelligence officer in the country.  He also served as commander of the Air Intelligence Agency and Director of the Joint Command and Control Warfare Center and served in senior staff positions at the Pentagon, at U.S. European Command, at the National Security Council, and the U.S. Embassy in Bulgaria. He was also the deputy chief of staff for the United Nations Command and U.S. Forces in South Korea. He is currently a principal at the Chertoff Group and a distinguished visiting professor at the George Mason University Schar School of Policy and Government.

Refreshments will be provided.

The Mason Author Series is sponsored by the University Bookstore.

Jennifer Ritterhouse book launch in Mason Author Series, April 26th

The University Libraries, Mason Publishing,
and the University Bookstore

Jennifer Ritterhouse

In a discussion of her new book:  Discovering the South: One Man’s Travels Through a Changing America in the 1930s

Wednesday, April 26
3:00-4:30 pm
Main Reading Room
Fenwick Library
Fairfax Campus

Discovering the South- CoverDuring the Great Depression, the American South was not merely “the nation’s number one economic problem,” as President Franklin Roosevelt declared. It was also a battlefield on which forces for and against social change were starting to form. For a white southern liberal like Jonathan Daniels, editor of the Raleigh News and Observer, it was a fascinating moment to explore. Attuned to culture as well as politics, Daniels knew the true South lay somewhere between Erskine Caldwell’s Tobacco Road and Margaret Mitchell’s Gone with the Wind. On May 5, 1937, he set out to find it, driving thousands of miles in his trusty Plymouth and ultimately interviewing even Mitchell herself.

In Discovering the South, historian Jennifer Ritterhouse pieces together Daniels’s unpublished notes from his tour along with his published writings and a wealth of archival evidence to put this one man’s journey through a South in transition into a larger context. Daniels’s well chosen itinerary brought him face to face with the full range of political and cultural possibilities in the South of the 1930s, from New Deal liberalism and social planning in the Tennessee Valley Authority, to Communist agitation in the Scottsboro case, to planters’ and industrialists’ reactionary worldview and repressive violence. The result is a lively narrative of black and white southerners fighting for and against democratic social change at the start of the nation’s long civil rights era.

See also the author’s website for the project.

Jennifer Ritterhouse

Jennifer Ritterhouse is associate professor of history at George Mason University. She is the author of Growing Up Jim Crow: How Black and White Southern Children Learned Race and several articles; editor of a reprint edition of Sarah Patton Boyle’s autobiography, The Desegregated Heart: A Virginian’s Stand in Time of Transition; and co-editor of Remembering Jim Crow: African Americans Tell About Life in the Segregated South. She teaches classes on the 20th-century US, the South, cultural history, and research methods.

Refreshments will be provided.

The Mason Author Series is sponsored by the University Bookstore.

Mason Author Series: with Helon Habila

The University Libraries, Mason Publishing,
and the University Bookstore
in conjunction with the New Leaves Festival


Author Helon HabilaHelon Habila

In a reading and booksigning of The Chibok Girls: The Boko Haram Kidnappings and Islamist Militancy in Nigeria

Wednesday, April 5
7:30-9:00 pm
Main Reading Room
Fenwick Library
Fairfax Campus

George Mason University’s Associate Professor of Creative Writing Helon Habila offers a compassionate and powerful account of one of the most horrific recent tragedies to occur in Nigeria: the kidnapping of 276 girls from the Chibok Secondary School in April 2014 by Boko Haram, one of the world’s deadliest terrorist group whose name translated into English means “western education is abhorrent.” Habila, a native of Nigeria, traveled to the country twice to track down some of the escaped girls and their families and reconstruct what happened on that fateful day and how the town is coping. He situates the kidnappings within the political and historical context of the rise of Islamist extremism in Nigeria, which is deeply rooted in its tragic history of colonialism.

Cover image of Chibok Girls“A dispatch from the front lines, as Habila travels to the town of Chibok, where the landscape is riddled with burned tanks and bullet holes, and vigilantes pick up the slack for the inadequate and ineffectual military….Habila incorporates vital background knowledge on the situation in Chibok and the surrounding area; as a poet, he adds sensitivity and eloquence, capturing the raw emotion of the wounded town.”
~ Publishers Weekly

Helon Habila grew up in Nigeria and is the author of three novels, Oil on Water, Measuring Time, and Waiting for an Angel. His fiction, poems and short stories have won the Commonwealth Prize for Best First Novel (Africa Section), the Virginia Library Foundation’s Fiction Award, and the Windham-Campbell Prize. Oil on Water was shortlisted for the Commonwealth Writers Prize, the Orion Book Award, and the PEN/Open Book Award. He is an Associate Professor of Creative Writing at George Mason University.


Refreshments will be provided.

The Mason Author Series is sponsored by the University Bookstore.

Seeking a talented digital publishing professional

Mason Publishing/George Mason University Press is growing, and we have an open position for a talented digital publishing professional. Consider applying, or forward this announcement to your friends and colleagues who may have appropriate experience in digital publishing, web technologies, graphic design, and production.

Apply at: https://jobs.gmu.edu/postings/39740

Digital Publishing Lead (Search Reopened)

George Mason University’s Mason Publishing Group, within the University Libraries, seeks an experienced professional responsible for the management of digital publishing platforms and tools. This position reports to the Head, Mason Publishing Group. George Mason University has a strong institutional commitment to the achievement of excellence and diversity among its faculty and staff, and strongly encourages candidates to apply who will enrich Mason’s academic and culturally inclusive environment.

The Mason Publishing Group (http://publishing.gmu.edu/) unites the George Mason University Library’s digital publishing activity with the George Mason University Press to form a set of publishing services for the university.


The successful candidate will:

Focus on use of platforms to publish digital content, including e-journal and e-book hosting platforms such as OJS, PressBooks, and others, by providing project management and user support;
Manage the daily operations of the university’s institutional repository—Mason Archival Repository Service (MARS);
Work closely with our metadata services group to insure consistent metadata across all digital platforms;
Provide support and training for the Library’s new Research Commons, which includes a Digital Scholarship Center;
Provide support for digital publishing projects and platforms;
Consult with students, faculty and researchers who want to publish e-content; and
Maintain and enhance Mason Publishing’s web presence.

Required Qualifications:

Graduate degree in relevant discipline, such as ALA-accredited masters in library or information science, masters in publishing, and/or other advanced or terminal degree;
Demonstrated success managing and/or developing digital publications and collections within a library, publisher, or knowledge institution;
Outstanding analytical, organizational, project, and time management skills and ability to simultaneously lead multiple projects;
Ability to set priorities, meet deadlines, and complete tasks and projects on time and within budget by leveraging demonstrated creative and innovative problem-solving skills;
Ability to document relevant policies, procedures, and local standards;
Ability to build collaborative and mutually beneficial working relationships with people of varying backgrounds; and
Should be familiar with a range of web-based technologies and possess demonstrable expertise in at least one of the following: XML, XSLT, a scripting language (e.g., Python, PERL, Ruby) or CSS3.

Preferred Qualifications:

Two to four years of professional experience in digital publishing initiatives, digital collections, or digital repositories;
Experience working with digital publishing or institutional repository platform/software (e.g., Fedora, DSpace, Eprints, Digital Commons. OJS, PressBooks);
Knowledge of current metadata standards and understanding of metadata principles and practices;
Facility with the Adobe Creative Suite, particularly In-Design (CS5 or later) a plus; and
Knowledge of new scholarly publishing models.

Apply at: https://jobs.gmu.edu/postings/39740

George Mason University has a strong institutional commitment to the achievement of excellence and diversity among its faculty and staff, and strongly encourages candidates to apply who will enrich Mason’s academic and culturally inclusive environment.

Student Senate Support for the Open Textbook Initiative at George Mason University

The University Libraries is excited to report that the Student Government Senate has issued a resolution in support of open textbook adoption at Mason. This resolution encourages faculty to consider replacing expensive textbooks with open access materials and is a huge step on the path toward making college more affordable to Mason students.

What is an open textbook? It is a freely available digital book to which the author(s) has assigned a license permitting others, such as instructors, to use and adapt the content to suit their specific course learning objectives. That is, instructors can download, modify, remix, and share the item at no cost to themselves, their students, or their colleagues.

What do open textbooks offer students? Course material that is relevant, up to date, and varied in format, as well as accessible to all students as soon as a course begins. Concerns about the cost of pursuing a particular degree are diminished when textbook costs become immaterial. Not least of all, money that would have been spent on textbooks becomes available to help pay for rent, food, transportation, or even another course,.

What do open textbooks offer faculty? Some powerful incentives are:

  • the option to tailor course material selections to fit personal pedagogy,
  • the opportunity to work collaboratively with other disciplinary experts to select or create content that may be used and modified by colleagues around the globe, and
  • the ability to support students in a way that is deeply meaningful and purposeful, both inside and outside of the classroom.

The University Libraries invites your queries, discussion, and concerns about open textbooks. We are available to help you find these textbooks and other openly licensed materials to work with and integrate into your course(s). We are also experts in subscription content that may be appropriate for your course needs.

Please contact John Warren in the Mason Publishing Group about the open textbook initiative when curiosity overcomes you or you need assistance with existing open projects. As the expert in research materials specific to your discipline (both open and proprietary), your Subject Librarian is also available for consultation and assistance.

Mason Author Series: Digital Destiny with Dr. Shawn DuBravac

The George Mason University Libraries and the University Bookstore, present the Mason Author Series, in association with Mason Alumni Week
Digital Destiny with Dr. Shawn DuBravac

Thursday, October 13, 2016
7:00-8:15 pm
Main Reading Room (2nd floor), Fenwick Library, Fairfax Campus


George Mason University alumni aDigital Destiny book, ISBN 9781621573739uthor Dr. Shawn DuBravac (MA ’04, PhD ’14), chief economist for the Consumer Technology Association, will speak about his book Digital Destiny: How the New Age of Data Will Transform the Way We Work, Live, and Communicate. This New York Times bestseller explores how the world’s mass adoption of digital technologies portends the beginning of a new era for humanity in the realms of economics, health, travel and culture. In Digital Destiny, DuBravac provides examples of how the next decade will be defined by an all-digital lifestyle and the “Internet of Everything” – where everything, from the dishwasher to the wristwatch, is not only online, but acquiring, analyzing, and utilizing the data that surrounds us. And even as digital mechanisms take up more and more of our lives, individuals will have more freedom in action, work, health, and pursuits than ever before.

In his role as CTA’s chief economist, DuBravac provides crucial economic analysis to association and industry leaders regarding future economic activity and the relative health of the technology industry. He has been widely published on the topics of finance, economics and technology, and his keen insights have made him a highly sought-after speaker and commentator. In 2012, DuBravac was named to Dealerscope’s “40 under 40” list of people to watch in the consumer technology industry. His analysis has appeared in the Wall Street Journal, the New York Times, the Financial Times, the Los Angeles Times, Barron’s and on CNN, MSNBC and other media outlets.

George Mason University alumni author Shawn DuBravac
George Mason University alumni author Shawn DuBravac

DuBravac has taught as an adjunct professor for George Washington University’s MBA program and at University of Mary Washington and for George Mason University’s MBA program. Prior to joining CTA, DuBravac was head research analyst in the Economic Analysis Group of the Department of Justice’s Antitrust Division He holds economic degrees from Brigham Young University and George Mason University.

DuBravac shares many of his insights and ideas on Twitter at @shawndubravac.

Please RSVP at https://www.eventbrite.com/e/mason-author-series-digital-destiny-with-shawn-dubravac-tickets-28003285581

Refreshments will be provided.

The Mason Author Series is sponsored by the University Bookstore.


Mason Author Series: Tropical Conservation with Dr. A. Alonso Aguirre

The University Libraries, Mason Publishing, and the University Bookstore, present
The Mason Author Series
in association with Fall for the Book

Tropical Conversation: Perspectives on Local and Global Priorities

Tropical Conservation with Dr. A. Alonso Aguirre

Monday September 26, 2016

3:00-4:15 pm

Main Reading Room (2nd floor), Fenwick Library, Fairfax Campus

In Tropical Conservation: Perspectives on Local and Global Priorities, editor A. Alonso Aguirre (Department Chair of Mason’s Environmental Science and Policy program) brings together experts who primarily work in Africa, Latin America and Asia to introduce important conservation concepts and real world applications to issues that affect the tropics and subtropics; a region with 75% of the world’s human population as well as 90% of its biodiversity.

Tropical Conservation argues that issues such as climate change, environmental sustainability, and emerging diseases must be studied and addressed on a global scale. Today, no part of the world can be viewed in isolation, and we further codify and integrate a range of approaches for addressing global threats to nature and environmental sustainability, including climate change and emerging diseases.

Aguirre will be joined by his contributors: Thomas Lovejoy who coined the term “biological diversity”; Larry Gorenflo, who focuses on how people adapt to their natural and cultural surroundings; Ingrid Visseren-Hamakers, whose research centers on international biodiversity governance; Harald Beck, who studies mammal-plant interaction and ecosystem engineering in temperate and tropical ecosystems; Andrew Taber, an environmental pioneer and authority on Neotropical wildlife; Elizabeth Loh, who studies anthropogenic land-use change; and wildlife biologist and veterinarian, Iga Stasiak.

Aguirre 5

Please join us for this event. The event is free and refreshments will be provided. The book will be available for purchase.

Open Scholarship Initiative (OSI) 2016 Conference Papers

This Word Cloud is comprised of the compiled text of all OSI2016 conference papers
Facts and figures associated with OSI2016
Poster of OSI “By the Numbers”

Mason Publishing has published the papers from the inaugural Open Scholarship Initiative (OSI) Conference, held in April 2016 at George Mason University, in collaboration with the National Science Communication Institute and UNESCO. OSI is a multi-year effort to establish a new, global framework in which a wide variety of stakeholders will be able to work together over the long term to shape and manage the future of scholarly publishing. The final papers and workgroup presentations can be found and downloaded at http://journals.gmu.edu/osi —all have been published under a Creative Commons license. Links to individual papers are below.

Of all the many conferences I have attended over the years—certainly more than a few hundred—OSI was the most diverse in terms of stakeholder representation from a variety of different fields and perspectives in scholarly publishing. OSI2016 convened high-level (CEO/Dean/Director) delegates from across the research and academic publishing sphere to chart the future of scholarly publishing and open access. In all, 196 delegates attended OSI2016, representing 12 countries and 15 stakeholder groups across 184 institutions, including 50 major research universities (25 percent of delegates), 37 scholarly publishers (19 percent of delegates), 24 government policy organizations (12 percent), 23 scholarly libraries and groups, 23 non-university research institutions, 17 open knowledge groups (9 percent), eight faculty and education groups, and more. Countries represented include the United States, Canada, United Kingdom, France, Germany, the Netherlands, Switzerland, Brazil, Mexico, Australia, Singapore, and South Africa.

OSI workgroup sessions and subsequent conference papers seek to answer broad, foundational questions: What do we mean by publishing? Who should decide what is and isn’t open? What are the moral implications for open and what are the usage dimensions? Other topics included the tensions between impact overload and underload; the status of preservation mandates and repositories; peer review systems and options for reform; and tracking the impact of research through impact factors and alternative metrics. The different ideas and perspectives the participants led to a wide range of ideas on how to improving the way that research is published, shared and accessed.

The What is Publishing (1) Workgroup (DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.13021/G8630H) looked at the evolving scholarly publishing ecosystem and determined that the needs of researchers are not being met by the current system. Instead, they recommend a change to disaggregated services—unbundling the products and services that publishers currently provide and letting market forces drive the development of, and demand for, a new and improved à la carte world of knowledge artifacts and knowledge management tools.

OSI2016's "What is Publishing 1" workgroup—at work
The “What is Publishing 1” workgroup—at work

Meanwhile, the What is Publishing (2) Workgroup (DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.13021/G8CS33) envisions a future publishing paradigm that is net­worked, open, and significantly more dynamic than the traditional model; their recommendations include identifying gaps in evidence and knowledge and working to define unmet publishing and dissemina­tion needs of scholars.

The What is Open? Workgroup (DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.13021/G8XK5R) found that the scholarly community’s current definition of “open” captures only some of the attributes of openness, which instead exist along a broad spectrum of attributes. Their framework proposes an alternative way of describing and evaluating openness based on four attributes—discoverable, accessible, reusable, and transparent—the “DART Framework for Open Access.”

Who decides the future of open access and who has the power to make decisions that can affect the future of open access? The Who Decides? Workgroup (DOI: http://doi.org/10.13021/G8P30V) examined stakeholders and their power as actors of change. Their report offers three possible change scenarios: in the way scholars are evaluated, the way some innovations in scholarly publishing can be nurtured, and the way cooperation can empower a “global flip” of existing research journals to open access.

The Moral Dimensions of Open Workgroup (DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.13021/G8SW2G) considered the moral foundations of knowledge production and access that underlie models of scholarly publishing. Their report identifies seven moral dimensions and principles to open-access scholarship and data, recognizing the moral responsibility to maximize the benefits of scholarly publishing for the larger society.

The Usage Dimensions of Open Workgroup (DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.13021/G8FK5D) identified definitions, priorities, and themes, including the character of research outputs and the actual research workflow process, as well as economic considerations.

Delegates from the OSI2016 Usage Dimensions Workgroup
OSI2016 Usage Dimensions Workgroup

Two groups examined how scholarly publishing tools and products are evolving. The Evolving Open Solutions (1) Workgroup (DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.13021/G8VS3F) considered barriers to openness, such as flawed incentives, and how these barriers can be overcome. Their recommendations included defining an ideal future and an alter­native system for funding, tenure, and promotion.

The Evolving Open Solutions (2) Workgroup (DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.13021/G8ZK52) assessed the most significant challenges confronting academic publishing over the next 3-5 years and proposed recommendations centered on themes of culture change, funding/sustainability, and the unique infrastructural requirements for different disciplines and diverse forms of research output.

The Open Impacts Workgroup (DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.13021/G8488N) identified three areas for a new framework for understanding the impact of open: measuring openness, utilization measures, and understanding economic impacts of open.

The Participation in the Current System Workgroup (DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.13021/G82C7P) focused on authors, who play a critical role in the scholarly communications system as the original content creators, are in many or most cases the original rightsholders, and are generally the ultimate decisionmakers when it comes to how, when, and where to publish their work. Envisioning a “perfect world” for authors, the group made recommendations for reforms, messaging, and research that could address many common author concerns and create a more hospitable framework for authors to participate in the open publishing system.

The Information Overload & Underload Workgroup (DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.13021/G8R30G) discussed access as a core aspect of the issue of overload and underload—both access to research materials and access to venues where one can contribute to the scholarly corpus. The group explored factors and causes of information overload and underload, and developed ideas for social and technology solutions addressing these issues.

The Repositories & Preservation Workgroup (DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.13021/G89W24) found that while repositories are a vital tool in modern information management and a key component of preser­vation and long-term availability, they are not well-suited to the multitude of stakeholders in the modern scholarly publishing system. Among their recommendations for strengthening repositories and standardizing preserva­tion processes are building new workflows and an ecosystem that will better ensure long-term access and preservation.

The Peer Review Workgroup (DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.13021/G8K88P) focused on peer review in the context of open scholar­ship and found that while greater openness and transparency would improve accounta­bility, minimize bias, and encourage collaboration, there are significant challenges as well as a great variation in readiness across disciplines and publishing mod­els. The group recommended facilitation of peer review outside the traditional publication process—for example, in the context of preprint servers and after publication—with incen­tives for broad participation.

The Embargoes Workgroup (DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.13021/G8S014) categorized publication embargoes into four main types and focused on two: post-publication and subscription embargoes. Their recommendations include creating an evidence base for embargoes by funding a global survey of key stakeholders. They propose questions for the survey that would provide meaningful data about the is­sues surrounding embargoes.

The Impact Factors Workgroup (DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.13021/G88304) focused on the uses and misuses of the Journal Impact Factor (JIF), with a partic­ular focus on research assessment. The group’s recommendations include active support for the San Francisco Declaration on Research Assessment (DORA) by research funders, higher education institutions, national academies, publishers and learned societies as well as the creation of an international “metrics lab” to ex­plore the potential of new indicators and the wide sharing of information on this topic among stakeholders.

Finally, the At-Large Workgroup (DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.13021/G80K5C), of which I was a member, was the largest and most diverse in terms of stakeholder representa­tion, observing workgroup conversations during the meeting and used their wide-angle lens on the evolution of these questions and proceedings in order to develop some high-level takeaways on the OSI conference. These included observations on the format and process of the conference, the widespread theme of changing scholarly needs and outputs, the primacy of promotion and tenure in discussions on change in scholarly publishing, stakeholders and missing voices at OSI, the influence of impact, and recommendations going forward toward OSI 2017 and beyond.

This Word Cloud is comprised of the compiled text of all OSI2016 conference papers
Word Cloud of compiled text of OSI2016 conference paper

The At-Large paper discusses some of the common themes found throughout the workgroup sessions and papers. This word cloud—created from the compiled texts of all sixteen conference papers—also highlights the most frequent terms and themes discussed at OSI2016.

If you are interested in attending OSI2017, to be held in April 2017 at George Washington University, email mailto:osi2016@nationalscience.org or visit our contact page at: http://osinitiative.org/contact/