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ARL-SSRC Meeting on Open Scholarship in the Social Sciences: Prework Interview Report

This post by Philip N. Cohen is cross-posted from Open Sociology.

In preparation for the December invitational meeting on open scholarship in social sciences, hosted by the Association of Research Libraries and the Social Science Research Council, I conducted a series of short pre-work interviews with people from the invitation list. They are from leading social science scholarly societies, research communities, and research libraries. The goal is to help expose each other to the range of objectives and concerns we bring to the questions we collectively face in the movement toward open scholarship. I asked about the goals they have, and the values they see, or wish to see, in the scholarly communication system.

The interviewees are all skilled communicators, and in less than half an hour each we were able to cover a lot of ground. I hope that sharing these interview excerpts will make the meeting more productive by allowing us to enter the discussion with a greater shared understanding of each other’s perspectives, concerns, and priorities. The excerpts are grouped according to the questions and themes that emerged from the responses. After the meeting, I will return to the interviews to help summarize the outcomes in a report.

Together, the video segments here run 33 minutes.


Scholarly communication is central to the mission of both academic societies represented here. Alyson Reed, executive director of the Linguistic Society of America, puts it at the center of LSA’s goals as an association.

From the library perspective, Chris Bourg, described her objective in scholarly communication as making scholarship open in all ways.

Kathleen Fitzpatrick director of digital humanities, professor of English at Michigan State University, former director of scholarly communication for the Modern Language Association, and project director for Humanities Commons, focused her statement of goals on infrastructure.

In the life sciences, where Jessica Polka works as executive director of ASAPbio, openness means more rapid dissemination, and their approach is to move communication outside the journal system.

Brian Nosek, psychology professor and director of the Center for Open Science, sees openness as an essential quality of the scholarly communication system, because the scholarship network is decentralized.

Similarly, from Jessica Polka’s perspective, open sharing and distribution of research, made possible by network technology, is what makes scholarly communication work.