Major research grant supports new open scholarship initiative


The global upheaval caused by COVID-19 has highlighted a need for academics to find ways to share their research quickly, freely and with large audiences. But open scholarship continues to pose significant hurdles for Canadian researchers.

A new, interdisciplinary seven-year project seeks to overcome those challenges. Led by Distinguished Humanities Professor Ray Siemens, Implementing Open Scholarship: Foundations for Social Engagement at Scale, recently received a $2.5 million Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC) Partnership grant to develop open, inclusive and publicly engaged scholarship that serves both academic interests and society at large.

Partners across Canada and Australia, as well as the UVic community, committed another $3.25 million in cash and in-kind contributions to the initiative, which is being led by the Implementing New Knowledge Environments (INKE) Partnership.

“Community-engaged, open, digital scholarship is a significant undertaking for the Canadian research community,” Siemens says. “This sort of work is critical for facilitating public access to and engagement with research—especially during times of global upheaval.”

The team will examine barriers to open scholarship, including the difficulty in sustaining access to publicly funded research, the lack of public-facing infrastructure to share digital research, the growth in free but illegitimate online content among the public, and a lack of training for researchers.

Siemens says public engagement and training will form a big element of the initiative, something researchers have already been exploring at the annual Digital Humanities Summer Institute at UVic.

This year, more than 1200 people participated in the conference, which was held online. Events included discussions on the meaning of open scholarship (pictured above), as well as workshops on digital learning tools, making data open, and licensing and sharing knowledge.

One of the ultimate goals of the open scholarship initiative is to develop the Canadian Humanities and Social Sciences Commons, a national, online research commons, which is in development.

“This public-facing work will help to make open, digital scholarship in Canada both viable and usable,” says Siemens.

The INKE Partnership includes the UVic-based Electronic Textual Cultures Lab and UVic Libraries as key partners, as well as nationally leading researchers and librarians across disciplines from UVic, Canadian universities, scholarly and publishing organizations, and the digital humanities.

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