Institutional Change toward Open Scholarship and Open Science

The processes and supports within an institution can, I’ve noticed, demand a bit of effort to change. When we speak of open scholarship or open science, many aspects tie-in or lead out from those concepts, which makes the whole prospect of institutional change quite complex. I’m very excited about the efforts so far that the Open Science Working Group (of which I’m a participant) at Concordia University has undertaken and accomplished. These include an initial report on “Recommendations for Fostering Open Science at Concordia University” (DOI: 10.11573/

Of course, the Library is always doing outreach about open access (OA). In the past I’ve organized activities, events, and projects for open access week. I can see how frequently our modern research practices, which involve digital techniques are enabled by the various forms of open: open source, open data, open protocols, open access, etc. However, I’ve always found that it’s a struggle to get people’s interest and that we have to be creative in order to educate about OA issues. Part of what I suspect makes advocating for OA difficult is the sort of singularity that comes from being “just the library,” the group that’s always talking about it. So when this Open Science Working Group formed, I was excited about its multidisciplinary nature and that it included both students and faculty. I think that really helps to broaden involvement across the university.

The working group, led by colleagues Krista Byers-Heinlein (who is also Concordia University Research Chair in Bilingualism and Open Science) and Nicolás Alessandroni, initiated the effort through a day-long conference on open science in 2022. Later they established the working group by inviting people to participate in a workshop (there were over 20 people representing many disciplines). The workshop operated through a modified form of DORA’s SPACE rubric, which was designed for academic institutions to use toward improving their policies. I think using that tool to organize such a large group of people toward a practical outcome was extremely beneficial.

After more meetings, discussions, and revisions the working group was able to produce a set of recommendations to bolster open scholarship throughout the university. It addresses many issues, including existing policies, outreach, inter-institutional work, position principles, open education, resources, and more. Of course, this is not the end of the process. Among other things, next steps include focused discussions with department heads, administrators, and others. I imagine that getting to a place where open scholarship/open science is well-understood and hopefully a default institutional position for research and education will require ongoing work.

The recommendations in the report tend to be specific within the context of Concordia University but I felt it worthwhile to write about here because the process, the findings, and the recommendations may be of interest to others. Perhaps you would like to try something similar at your institution? The Concordia work could be one model to reflect on what would work well or not so well in your own context.

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