Conway’s Law and Open Science: Why it feels like something’s fundamentally not right

Some very quick notes on some reading I’ve been doing today on Conway’s law

The law basically has to do with the way organisational structures reflect themselves in the products they produce (also known as “mirroring”). So, to give a common example, corporate websites usually reflect the interests and organisational structures of the corporation rather than the information needs of the website visitor: a statement from the president welcoming you (who ever goes to a website for that?), tasks and locations grouped by reporting line rather than relevance to topic or user, and so on (Nielsen also makes this point in Designing Web Usability).

There are many different formulations of this law, ranging from the very software-specific to the very general. One interesting one, however, is in Coplien and Harrison’s Organizational Patterns of Agile Software Development:

If the parts of an organization—such as teams, departments, or subdivisions—do not closely reflect the Read the rest of this entry »


Using Zenodo as a personal repository

More and more academics are using services like academia.edu and researchgate as personal repositories. This is in part a way of ensuring your research gets wide exposure (and hence is more available for citation). But it is also part of an increasing sense among academics that one “ought” to put off-prints and pre-prints of research “out there” for others to find. This is being encouraged by Open Access mandates that encourage or require researchers to post copies of their work (i.e. so-called “Green Open Access”), either in last manuscript version or as soon as the embargo period is over at the journal of record.

As the University of California Office of Scholarly Communication points out, however, Academia.edu and ResearchGate are not really Open Access repositories: they are social networking sites for academics that use offprints the way Facebook uses pictures of your family—as a way of getting friends and colleagues to come to the site and click around. Read the rest of this entry »


Round up of citations of the Lethbridge Journal Incubator

The Journal Incubator is getting on about 5 years, now. In that time, it’s been the subject of a number of mentions in various contexts: from articles by students and faculty associated with the Incubator, to passing notices of our talks or use of our CC-Licensed material.

Here’s a list of 12 references (excluding conference presentations) I’ve recently come up with:

Borchard, Laurie, Michael Biondo, Stephen Kutay, David Morck, and Andrew Philip Weiss. 2015. “Making Journals Accessible Front & Back: Examining Open Journal Systems at CSU Northridge.” OCLC Systems & Services: International Digital Library Perspectives 31 (1): 35–50. https://doi.org/10. Read the rest of this entry »


Round up of citations of the Lethbridge Journal Incubator

The Journal Incubator is getting on about 5 years, now. In that time, it’s been the subject of a number of mentions in various contexts: from articles by students and faculty associated with the Incubator, to passing notices of our talks or use of our CC-Licensed material.

Here’s a list of 12 references (excluding conference presentations) I’ve recently come up with:

Borchard, Laurie, Michael Biondo, Stephen Kutay, David Morck, and Andrew Philip Weiss. 2015. “Making Journals Accessible Front & Back: Examining Open Journal Systems at CSU Northridge.” OCLC Systems & Services: International Digital Library Perspectives 31 (1): 35–50. https://doi.org/10. Read the rest of this entry »


“Nudge nudge, say no more”: What I think needs to happen next in the Scholarly Commons Project

In the follow up on the Force11/Helmsley Scholarly Commons Working Group workshops in Madrid and San Diego, participants (and steering committee members) have been asked to write a brief description of what we think is the “best direction to develop the principles.” Here’s my two cents.1

I think that the lessons we’ve learned over the last year are the following:

  1. There is (or perhaps could be) such a thing as a “Commons” in scholarly communication;
  2. This approach to scholarly communication could have an immensely disruptive potential, as it could provide a way of completing the always-threatening development of research communication into a Common Pool Resource;
  3. The disruption (and the commons) will not happen without leadership; somebody needs to propose a definition of the boundaries of the commons; explain how this defintion can be used; and create the mechanisms by which it is.

Given this, I think the next step is to work on (3): providing the le Read the rest of this entry »


But does it work in theory? Developing a generative theory for the scholarly commons

…It is said that a learned professor of Heidelberg forbade his students the repetition of a certain experiment.

“But,” they protested, “it has always been successful.”

“Nevertheless,” he said, “its position among experiments is absolutely untenable from an intellectual point of view.”

The boys stared.

“The thing may answer very well in practise,” said the professor, “but it is not sound in theory.”

Read the rest of this entry »

But does it work in theory? Developing a generative theory for the scholarly commons

The “Scholarly Commons Working Group”

I am part of the Scholarly Commons Working Group at Force11. The goal of this working group is to “define and incubate” a “Scholarly Commons”—something we define as being a set of “principles, best practices, interfaces and standards that should govern the multidirectional flow of scholarly objects through all phases of the research process from conception to dissemination” in any discipline.

As part of this work, we have been working on developing the actual principles that can be said to… well, this is a bit of an issue, actually—govern?, describe (?), organise (?), define (?). Let’s just say, right now, “develop a set of principles that will help in some way identify and establish the Scholarly Commons in some useful, non-trivial fashion.”

Read the rest of this entry »
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