We are calling on the community to make concerted efforts to develop strong, community-governed infrastructures that support diversity in scholarly communications (referred to as bibliodiversity).
Diversity is an essential characteristic of an optimal scholarly communications system. Diversity in services and platforms, funding mechanisms, and evaluation measures will allow the research communications to accommodate the different workflows, languages, publication outputs, and research topics that support the needs and epistemic pluralism of different research communities. In addition, diversity reduces the risk of vendor lock-in, which inevitably leads to monopoly, monoculture, and high prices.
We are living through unprecedented times, with a global pandemic sweeping the world, leading to illness, death, and unparalleled economic upheaval. Although our concerns about bibliodiversity have been growing for years, the current crisis has exposed the deficiencies in a system that is increasingly homogenous and prioritizes profits over the public good.
For those who were not in favour of open access before, this global crisis should settle the debate once and for all.
We must move away from a pay-to-read world in which researchers, practitioners and the public cannot afford to access critical research materials, or have to wait for embargo periods to lift before they can develop life saving techniques, methods and vaccines. Access to the research is simply too important. Yet, pay-to-publish, the open access model being advanced by many in the commercial sector, is also inappropriate as it places unacceptable financial barriers on researchers’ abilities to publish.
It is time to reassess some of the basic assumptions related to scholarly communications, including competition, prestige, and the role of commercial entities. The same values that underlie our research and education systems should also guide research communications.
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