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New International Science Council Steering Group sets direction for the second phase of the Scientific Publishing project

20 April 2021

The recently appointed Group, which includes Ireland’s Luke Drury, MRIA, will guide the next set of project activities to define tractable priorities for reform and action in scientific publishing.

Following the successful first phase of the project, which involved extensive consultations with the global scientific community as represented by International Science Council (ISC) Members, and resulted in the ISC Report “Opening the record of science

During this second phase, the project aims to create an impactful and broad-based coalition for change to ensure that the processes enabling efficient dissemination and use of scientific work are central parts of a revitalized open science. 

The Steering Group unanimously welcomed thisinitiative as an important step for the future operation of science and expressed enthusiasm in pushing it forward. The discussion inevitably touched upon the COVID-19 pandemic. While the full scope of consequences – including the availability of funding for future research, notably in the Global South – is yet to be seen, it was agreed that we can already use the learnings from this experience to promote a lasting change in scholarly publishing.  

The unprecedented response of the scientific community to the pandemic has shown the power  of open science to speed the circulation of ideas and data within and beyond the scientific community and across the public-private interface, which enhances innovation and public confidence. It must become the “new normal” for science, rather than regressing to the old ways of restricted communication, with much of the record of science being hidden behind publishers pay walls. We have to use the pandemic as a springboard to do science better.” —Geoffrey Boulton, the Chair of the Group

The Group also began the exercise of identifying potential leverage points and the best ways to galvanize action across different stakeholder groups. For meaningful change, a wide range of actors would have to be brought on board. The process should also  consider regional contexts to mobilize a truly global action. 

The Steering Group will continue meeting throughout the second phase of the project to provide advice, feedback, and a general framework for further action. An update on the project will be presented at the forthcoming ISC General Assembly

Steering Group Members

  • Abrizah Abdullah, Professor, Faculty of Computer Science & Information Technology, University of Malaya
  • Dominique Babini, CLACSO Open Science Advisor
  • Michael Barber, Australian Academy of Science
  • Ahmed Bawa, Chief Executive Officer, Universities South Africa
  • Geoffrey Boulton, Chair
  • Amy Brand, Head of MIT press
  • Luke Drury, Emeritus Professor of Astrophysics, Dublin Institute for Advanced Studies, and former President, Royal Irish Academy
  • Heather Joseph, Executive Director, SPARC
  • Joy Owango, Executive Director, Training Centre in Communication; and AfricArXiv project partner
  • Zhang Xiaolin, Chinese Academy of Science, China

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