Reflecting on the theme of this year’s Open Access Week, “Open For Whom,” Yasmeen Shorish and Leslie Chan turn their attention to scholarly infrastructure. In their post, Shorish and Chan call attention to questions of diversity, equity, and inclusion in scholarly communication, broadly construed to include digital humanities work happening within and beyond libraries.
They write, “Infrastructure comprises systems and social practices that reflect the values of its creators and, ideally, those who interact with it. Infrastructure, we contend, is never neutral but involves contest over power. Infrastructure not only determines how we access and who can access information, but whose voices count as ‘legitimate’ scholarship.”
They call attention to existing governance structures for open knowledge infrastructure, currently dominated by “a handful of powerful multinational publishers” who “are busy building end-to-end platforms, integrating once disparate journal production workflows, research tools, data services, and researcher profiles. This is done with the aim of extracting vast quantities of data that would allow them to develop new products and services for the global marketplace of metrics, analytics, and university rankings.” The drive for efficiency, they lament, makes it hard to break away from the “implicit value statements have been asserted by the infrastructure providers. Biases in language preference, research areas, publication venue, methodologies, modes of presentation, and even ‘excellence’ have become ‘standardized’ and reinforced as if there is only a single ‘universal’ set of practices.”
As a corrective, they urge librarians to “turn our support to autonomous, community-governed local initiatives, and by providing a network of solidarity for truly diverse and inclusive scholarly communication.” They provide several examples of promising projects, including the Community-led Open Publication Infrastructures for Monographs (COPIM) project, AmeliCA‘s efforts to “co-create an open, non-commercial infrastructure for Latin America and other Global South journals,” and the Invest in Open Infrastructure (IOI) project.