Reviewing, Refining, and Revising Open Social Scholarship

Alyssa Arbuckle 

Alyssa Arbuckle ( is the Co-Director of the Electronic Textual Cultures Lab at the University of Victoria, where she is Operational Lead for the Implementing New Knowledge Environments Partnership and a co-facilitator of its Connection cluster. With her colleagues Randa El Khatib and Ray Siemens she is a Co-Director of the Digital Humanities Summer Institute. Alyssa holds an interdisciplinary PhD from the University of Victoria; her dissertation focused on open social scholarship and its implementation.

University of Victoria

Ray Siemens 

Ray Siemens ( directs the Electronic Textual Cultures Lab, the Implementing New Knowledge Environments Partnership, and the Digital Humanities Summer Institute. He is Distinguished Professor in the Faculty of Humanities at the University of Victoria, in English and Computer Science, and past Canada Research Chair in Humanities Computing (2004-15). In 2019-20, he was also Leverhulme Visiting Professor at Loughborough U and in 2019-22, the Global Innovation Chair in Digital Humanities at U Newcastle.

University of Victoria

October 01, 2023 

In the open scholarship world, knowledge diversity has become a frequent topic of concern, conversation, and deliberation. This signals, as Leslie Chan, Budd Hall, Florence Piron, Rajesh Tandon, and Lorna Williams write, an increasing “openness to excluded knowledges” (2020, 8). Those who propose the expansion of knowledge diversity in the academic sphere suggest that there are many overlapping knowledges: social, cultural, ancestral, scientific, familial, personal, scholarly, historical, tribal, and more. Without acknowledging and integrating varying knowledges, the current knowledge production apparatus risks homogenizing our cultural, social, and intellectual output and thus, archives. How do we ensure that in-development digital research infrastructure is flexible enough to support diverse knowledges while standardized enough to ensure interoperability and sustainability? How can we facilitate multiple knowledges using cutting-edge technological approaches without flattening culture and nuance? This is, perhaps, the conflict between the Zapatista concept of the pluriverse as articulated by Arturo Escobar, which upholds values of community autonomy, multiplicity, and relationality, and Mark Zuckerberg’s metaverse, which collapses individual experience and knowledge making into a corporate-controlled and profit-generating world. In a 2019 ScholarLed blogpost,1 Yasmeen Shorish and Leslie Chan call contemporary scholarly communication a “monolithic system,” one that has been “effective in colonizing the world of knowledge, and allowing powerful institutions and corporations in the Global North to continue their dominance, while further deepening the asymmetrical hierarchy and epistemic divide in global scholarly communications.” Shorish and Chan (2019) argue that we might resist knowledge homogeneity by moving away from totalizing gestures towards “autonomous, community-governed local initiatives [and] a network of solidarity for truly diverse and inclusive scholarly communication.”

Open social scholarship can be one of the paths to recognizing and facilitating diverse and plural knowledges. The Implementing New Knowledge Environments (INKE) Partnership defines open social scholarship as “academic practice that enables the creation, dissemination, and engagement of open research by specialists and non-specialists in accessible and significant ways” (INKE Partnership n.d.). Open social scholarship builds on the already complex and layered concepts of open access, open scholarship, and social knowledge creation. Rather than accepting open access as the endgame for scholarly communication, open social scholarship asks what is possible and necessary beyond straightforward access to research output. Such an endeavour aims to shift the default from publishing academic work for relatively insular research communities to fostering intellectual engagement and broad, inclusive communities around areas of shared interest. Moreover, open social scholarship recognizes the fallacy of hierarchical, top-down knowledge systems that venerate a delegated authority. Rather, in keeping with the principles of knowledge diversity, open social scholarship emphasizes that there are many different knowledge production roles upheld by many different people.

An open social scholarship approach considers scholarly communication as an ecosystem of various actions and agents, replete with overlapping communities of researchers, librarians, publishers, students, and broader publics. Such a broad, global ecosystem requires close attention to the digital infrastructure, knowledge production, and community engagement that propels it forwards.

Reviewing, Revising, and Refining Open Social Scholarship was a two-part event series that brought together participants to discuss these issues and many more.2 In November 2022, Reviewing, Revising, and Refining Open Social Scholarship: Australasia was held online and included a featured talk by Tim Sherratt (U Canberra) and two lightning talk sessions. In January 2023, participants came together in-person in Victoria, BC, Canada for Reviewing, Revising, and Refining Open Social Scholarship: Canada, which featured Chad Gaffield (U Ottawa; U15), Constance Crompton (U Ottawa), and Jennifer Edmonds (DARIAH) as featured speakers and included six additional lightning talk sessions. At both events, the featured speakers, lightning talk presenters, session chairs, and audience members discussed and debated many key open social scholarship issues and trends. This event series built on previous years’ meetings and discussions of both the INKE Partnership and the Canadian–Australian Partnership for Open Scholarship (CAPOS).3 Reviewing, Revising, and Refining Open Social Scholarship was the fourth annual gathering of the CAPOS group and the tenth annual gathering of the INKE Partnership. It brought together over one hundred students, librarians, researchers, and administrators from around the world to discuss open social scholarship, with specific focus on priorities for researchers and partners; community concerns; pragmatic approaches; publication; and considerations specific to the humanities, arts, and social sciences. Event presenters hailed from across Australia and Canada, as well as from Europe and the United States, with registered attendees from all of these nations as well as Georgia, India, Indonesia, and the United Arab Emirates. This international participant group infused the event series with a variety of open social scholarship perspectives and experiences—a variety of knowledges. This special issue encapsulates some key discussions from Reviewing, Revising, and Refining Open Social Scholarship.

The INKE Partnership is a North American-based research network with the goal of fostering open social scholarship, as referenced above. For over a decade, the INKE Partnership has brought together experts and leaders with the aim of realizing open, inclusive, and publicly engaged scholarship that serves both academic interests and society at large. This group includes researchers, partners, librarians, postdoctoral fellows, graduate students, and research staff from across Canada as well as Australia. Coordinated by the Canadian Social Knowledge Institute (C-SKI)4 at the University of Victoria, the INKE Partnership works to address challenges in scholarly communication by providing broad access to research, community training, public engagement, and policy recommendations. This public-facing work helps to make open social scholarship in Canada both viable and usable.

CAPOS is a collaboration between Canadian and Australian researchers, policy makers, libraries, computing organizations, research groups, and postsecondary institutions to advance the understanding of, and resolve crucial issues in, the production, distribution, and engagement of scholarship that is open and digital. This partnership draws upon both countries’ positive track records of participating in and influencing the international consideration of open social scholarship issues. CAPOS works towards implementing elements of open scholarship policy and practice from the international sphere in national, regional, and local contexts—work that is possible because of the complementarity of governmental and academic institutional structures and legal frameworks in Canada and Australia. In sum, CAPOS aims to make open scholarship more efficient and more impactful for the specific national contexts of Canada and Australia, while feeding back into and participating in larger, global conversations around the creation, sharing, and preservation of research outputs.

The featured speakers of Reviewing, Revising, and Refining Open Social Scholarship shaped the events in critical and intentional ways. Tim Sherratt spoke to the GLAM Workbench5 as a piece of Australia’s digital research infrastructure that persists despite the fact it does not receive direct funding or institutional support. Rather, Sherratt explained, this project achieves sustainability by ensuring its contents and processes are open and available for reuse, collaboration, automation, and integration with other initiatives. Chad Gaffield laid a conceptual framework for discussion by thinking through how scholars advance knowledge and understanding in the 21st century, with a focus on digital tools. He also focused his exploration on the differing roles of scholars, academic institutions, and funding agencies in the research landscape. Constance Crompton concentrated on digital research infrastructure in Canada and provided case studies of various projects and initiatives facilitated by existing and evolving technological standards and frameworks. Jennifer Edmonds was joined by Sally Chambers, the incoming Director of DARIAH. Edmonds spoke to the ways in which DARIAH-EU has evolved to embrace open scholarship principles, particularly in recent years, to the point where openness has become central to DARIAH as digital research infrastructure for arts and humanities. Key takeaways from the featured speakers threaded throughout the events’ proceedings.

Although research related to INKE Partnership and CAPOS interests, goals, and objectives run through this special issue, we have divided the papers into three interrelated clusters on knowledge production, digital research infrastructure, and community engagement. Of course, these separations are somewhat arbitrary as all the clusters (and papers therein) inform each other and are parts of the larger open social scholarship whole.

Digital research infrastructure provides the framework for open social scholarship research and sharing to happen. Looking to the European context, DARIAH-EU, the European digital research infrastructure for arts and humanities, was founded in 2014. Jennifer Edmond and Erzsébet Tóth-Czifra outline how DARIAH is increasingly prioritizing open scholarship, to the point where the infrastructure now presents itself as both a resource and champion for open scholarship in the arts and humanities. But open social scholarship infrastructure is more than just resourcing; it also entails a set of standards and best practices. For instance, in a world of increasing cyber threats, research collaborations must ensure that their security practices are appropriate and up to date. In “Security Culture as an Expression of Values,” Aaron Mauro argues for the importance of trust, informed consent, and ethical collaboration in digital scholarship initiatives. These values must persist in our infrastructural projects. In a research repository, for instance, author or member contributions can enhance or diminish metadata, based on its quality, accuracy, and relevancy. Julia Bullard considers the descriptive metadata of the first 149 items in the repository of the in-development Canadian Humanities and Social Sciences Commons.6 She makes recommendations for how to improve the design of the platform to reduce user friction, increase serendipity, and improve bilingualism—all within larger considerations of project labour and sustainability.

As expressed above, it is critical to pay attention to how knowledge is produced. Looking back in time, Alessandra Bordini focuses on the historical personage, printer, and humanist Aldus Manutius. She argues that Manutius’s comprehensive pedagogical and civic work contributed to the development of what we would now call public discourse, primarily through his use of the printing press as a large-scale knowledge production tool. Fast-forward to the present day, Antoine Fauchié, Roch Delannay, Michael Sinatra, and Marcello Vitali-Rosati meditate on how books are edited and published in the university system. They provide an overview of the “Parcours numériques” book series at the Presse de l'Université de Montréal, which endeavours to reconfigure the publishing chain. The authors vouch for the value of multimodal publishing, modular components, minimal computing, and progressive enhancement for academic knowledge production. Shifting from books to journals, Brent Nelson asks: how can we successfully transition a long-running, society-based print journal into open access, while maintaining a print version? He focuses on the John Donne Journal as a test case for this quandary. Nelson considers current open access publication models and concludes by proposing a sustainable subscription model in partnership with libraries. Stefan Glowacki moves away from traditional scholarly communication outputs entirely as he considers the possibility of increasing the visibility of media artists and their work by engaging with the Wikimedia ecosystem. He introduces “Media Art on Wikipedia,” a project launched jointly by Amsterdam's platform for Media Arts LIMA, Wikimedia Netherlands, and Dutch museums, knowledge institutions, and universities in 2021. Finally, in “Rhetoric, Research, and Revolution: Analyzing Cultural Rhetorics to Rethink Pedagogical Frameworks,” Bailey McAlister expands the concept of engaged scholarship to offer a rhetorical analysis of communication practices and strategies in the wine industry. She suggests that considering rhetorical practices across industries can productively inform humanities-based communication and education.

Ruminating on knowledge production eventually leads to the concept of community engagement. In “Why DHSI-East?: On Local, Regional, National, and International Digital Humanities Training,” Laura Estill focuses on the digital humanities community and introduces a training initiative based in and primarily serving Atlantic Canada. She argues for the value of multiple training opportunities across the country in order to ensure the depth and breadth of Canadian-based digital humanities education and development. Thamilini Jothilingam, Alisa Sohi, and Satwinder Kaur Bains contribute to the conversation surrounding archives and epistemic justice in their paper “South Asian Canadian Digital Archive: Fostering Knowledge Diversity and Equity through Multilingual Knowledge Infrastructures.” The authors discuss the South Asian Canadian Digital Archive (SACDA; a University of the Fraser Valley South Asian Studies Institute initiative), which uses archives (1897 to present) to build multilingual knowledge infrastructures and bring a wider community into the meaning-making process. Katie Fanning, Claire Kim, and Jon Saklofske are also concerned with how to interactively engage broader publics with the wonders and challenges of humanities knowledge, research, and research communication. In their paper, they push the boundaries of this exploration with Chowdr, a prototype app that focuses on community engagement and open sharing of information. Lynne Siemens continues her long-running research on the INKE Partnership itself as a community. Building on the foundation of her work looking at the SSHRC MCRI-funded INKE project on electronic books and reading, Siemens considers the nature of collaboration within the context of the re-envisioned SSHRC Partnership-funded INKE Partnership in “I Stayed for the Community: Collaboration and Community in an Open Social Scholarship Research Project.”

We are also pleased to reprint a multivocal piece from the Federation for Humanities and Social Sciences, who, in spring 2023, convened a conversation with many INKE Partnership members (and others) about the state of Open Access programs and policy in Canada and the future of Open Access in the humanities and social sciences. “Open Access in the Humanities and Social Sciences in Canada: A Conversation” was originally published on the US-based Social Science Space in May 2023 and reprinted on the Canadian Open Scholarship Policy Observatory in both English and French (as “Le libre accès dans les sciences humaines au Canada : une conversation”) shortly thereafter. The French and English versions of this piece draw on and complement the conversations from Reviewing, Revising, and Refining Open Scholarship, providing a snapshot in time of open scholarship in Canada–particularly in regard to the humanities.

This special issue features diverse contributions from the Reviewing, Revising, and Refining Open Scholarship event series. The INKE Partnership and CAPOS communities include members from varying professional stages and disciplinary groupings. Together, these interdisciplinary, international collectives are reviewing how they undertake open social scholarship, revising their approaches in keeping with best practices and our changing information landscape, and refining their methodology and output in order to ensure their work is as open—and as social—as it can be.

Works Cited

Arbuckle, Alyssa, Alex Christie, and Lynne Siemens, with Aaron Mauro and the Implementing New Knowledge Environments Research Group, eds. 2016. Scholarly and Research Communication 7 (2).

Arbuckle, Alyssa, Constance Crompton, and Aaron Mauro, eds. 2014. Scholarly and Research Communication 5 (4).

Arbuckle, Alyssa, Rachel Hendery, Luis Meneses, and Ray Siemens, eds. 2020. Pop! Public. Open. Participatory 2.

Arbuckle, Alyssa, Graham Jensen, Tully Barnett, and Ray Siemens, eds. 2021. Pop! Public. Open. Participatory 3.

Arbuckle, Alyssa, Aaron Mauro, and Lynne Siemens, eds. 2015. Scholarly and Research Communication 6 (2).

———. 2015. Scholarly and Research Communication 6 (3).

———. 2015. Scholarly and Research Communication 6 (4).

Arbuckle, Alyssa, Luis Meneses, and Ray Siemens, eds. 2019. Pop! Public. Open. Participatory 1.

Arbuckle, Alyssa, Caroline Winter, Ray Siemens, and Tully Barnett, eds. 2022. Pop! Public. Open. Participatory 4.

Chan, Leslie, Budd Hall, Florence Piron, Rajesh Tandon, and Lorna Williams. 2020. “Open Science Beyond Open Access: For and With Communities. A Step Towards the Decolonization of Knowledge.” The Canadian Commission for UNESCO’s IdeaLab.

Escobar, Arturo. 2018. Designs for the Pluriverse: Radical Interdependence, Autonomy, and the Making of Worlds. Charlotte, NC: Duke University Press.

Huculak, J. Matthew. 2019. “The Methodologies of Open Social Scholarship.” KULA: Knowledge Creation, Dissemination, and Preservation Studies 3 (1).

INKE Partnership. n.d. “About INKE.”

Meneses, Luis, Alyssa Arbuckle, and Ray Siemens, eds. 2019. KULA: Knowledge Creation, Dissemination, and Preservation Studies 3.

Shorish, Yasmeen, and Leslie Chan. 2019. “Co-creating Open Infrastructure to Support Epistemic Diversity and Knowledge Equity.” ScholarLed.

  1. “Co-creating Open Infrastructure to Support Epistemic Diversity and Knowledge Equity.” 

  2. For the proceedings from previous gatherings see Arbuckle, Winter, Siemens, and Barnett 2022; Arbuckle, Jensen, Barnett, and Siemens 2021; Arbuckle, Hendery, Meneses, and Siemens 2020; Arbuckle, Meneses, and Siemens 2019; Meneses, Arbuckle, and Siemens 2019; Huculak 2019; Arbuckle, Christie, Siemens, et al. 2016; Arbuckle, Mauro, and Siemens 2015; Arbuckle, Crompton, and Mauro 2014. 

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