[open-science] “After SSRN: Hallmarks of trust for subject repositories” - OpenAIRE blog post

Ross-Hellauer, Anthony ross-hellauer at sub.uni-goettingen.de
Wed May 25 07:55:09 UTC 2016

Dear list subscribers,

Just to alert you to a new post on the OpenAIRE blog that might be of interest to you, entitled “After SSRN: Hallmarks of trust for subject repositories”.

In the aftermath of the recent sale of the social sciences pre-print and publishing community platform SSRN to Elsevier, I offer a personal view on the nature of trust in community platforms and the need to make clear the hallmarks of trust for subject repositories, namely open governance, open source, open data.


The issue here is not that the company has been sold, nor that it has been sold to Elsevier specifically (though the fact that the buyer is the bête noire of the open access narrative surely doesn’t help). There is of course a place for private companies in the scholarly communications ecosystem. Running a for-profit is undoubtedly very hard and for many small companies, acquisition is their long term exit strategy. The issue here is not public versus private but rather a wider one of trust. Services like Mendeley or SSRN are ”social” in nature – built to a large extent upon the contributions of their communities of users.  If communities of users bring much of the value that fuels services like SSRN, why should they be content to take at face value promises which might quickly disintegrate once they come into conflict with money-making? Surely these communities deserve a stake in deciding what happens to those services. Had users known that SSRN would eventually sell to Elsevier, many would not have joined in the first place. Now that they have, many would like to take their community elsewhere – with former users like  Paul Gowder<https://medium.com/@PaulGowder/ssrn-has-been-captured-by-the-enemy-of-open-knowledge-b3e5bca6751d#.2hzdw8azh> already discussing starting a new open repository for the social sciences, for example. These issues lead naturally to the questions: what does an “open repository” look like? How are users to identify one, and upon which criteria should librarians and others responsible for recommending such services decide whether a service is to be recommended?
See: https://blogs.openaire.eu/?p=933

Apologies if not relevant to you!

Best to all


Dr. Tony Ross-Hellauer

OpenAIRE<https://www.openaire.eu/> Scientific Manager
University of Göttingen
Email: ross-hellauer at sub.uni-goettingen.de<mailto:ross-hellauer at sub.uni-goettingen.de>
Tel: +49 551 39-31818
Twitter: @tonyR_H<https://twitter.com/tonyR_H>

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