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Bibliodiversity: what is it and why is it important?

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Open science and open access have been hot topics of conversation recently, particularly in light of the current pandemic. As more authors opt to make data freely available, there has been a focus on diversity in scholarly communications (also referred to as bibliodiversity). These discussions largely stem from the Jussieu Call, which aims to foster a range of open access models within scientific publishing. Building on the principles outlined in the Jussieu Call, a recent paper by Kathleen Shearer (Confederation of Open Access Repositories) and colleagues explores the importance of bibliodiversity in scholarly communications and provides guidance for the wider community.

Principles of the Jussieu Call for open science and bibliodiversity

 

  • Open access must be complemented by bibliodiversity.
  • Development of innovative scientific publishing models must be a budget priority.
  • Research evaluation systems should be reformed and adapted.
  • Efforts should be made to invest in open source tools.
  • Secure and stable legislation across different countries is needed to facilitate use of text mining in the scientific community.
  • Scientific communities must be able to access national and international infrastructures guaranteeing circulation of knowledge.
  • Business models that do not involve any payments (made by authors or readers) should be prioritised.

Shearer et al believe that bibliodiversity is important as it may improve research communications, help to correct existing biases, and address issues of homogenisation and marginalisation. However, the authors highlight that a number of barriers to bibliodiversity may exist. For example, while the dominance of English as the lingua franca promotes widespread dissemination of research, it may impede uptake of the findings in societies where the research has taken place, and could give rise to bias against research published in non-English-language journals (regardless of scientific quality). To overcome this, the authors note that efforts to increase discoverability (for example, providing metadata in several languages) and translation could support language diversity in academic publishing.

Reliance on a narrow range of journal-based assessment measures may also impact bibliodiversity. Traditionally, research contributions have been evaluated by the impact factor of the journal in which data are published. Shearer et al note that this might result in publishers or journals focusing on ‘hot topics’ and issues of global interest, which could come at the cost of research addressing questions with a more local or narrow focus. However, the authors note that there is a growing recognition that variable approaches (including qualitative measures) are useful to determine overall research quality and impact. For example, it may be useful to examine who is discussing the research in question and in which communities the research is being read, cited and reused.

Shearer et al believe that everyone involved in scholarly publishing should endorse the Jussieu Call and ask the community to take concerted efforts to foster bibliodiversity.

In particular, the authors note that:

  • Funders and institutions should endorse the Declaration on Research Assessment (DORA) and support open science infrastructures and services.
  • Infrastructure providers should use open and interoperable standards and collaborate with other organisations to develop shared infrastructure.
  • Researchers should make use of open and community-based infrastructures.
  • Libraries should invest in diverse content and services, including open infrastructure.
  • Policy makers should include bibliodiversity as an underlying principle in policies related to open science and open access.

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Summary by Emma Evans PhD, CMPP from Aspire Scientific

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With thanks to our sponsors, Aspire Scientific Ltd and NetworkPharma Ltd


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