58 Organizations Gather to Workshop a Joint Roadmap for Open Science Tools

By Nate Angell | 13 September, 2018

This post was originally published on the Joint Roadmap for Open Science Tools blog on 13 Sep 2018 and is reposted here with permission.

Logos from 36 organizations currently members of JROST.Last month, 86 people from 58 different organizations gathered in Berkeley, CA and remotely to attend the first workshop convened by the Joint Roadmap for Open Science Tools. The Joint Roadmap was initiated in early 2018 as a collaboration to develop a common vision, user stories, and roadmap to support open science research workflows, and better coordinate work across the community of open science projects.

36 organizations and 5 individuals have already joined the Joint Roadmap as formal participants. Participating organizations are not-for-profit institutions, projects, or communities that develop and steward open-source science tools and their ecosystem. Individuals are typically scholars, technologists, or other practitioners with deep commitments to open science. (Learn how you can join).

The Ecosystem

The workshop began with an overview by Bianca Kramer and Jeroen Bosman of the open science tools ecosystem as a whole. They looked at tools used in six sectors of the researcher workflow: discovery, analysis, writing, publication, outreach, and assessment, and put together hypothetical research workflows using suites of products from for-profit, proprietary companies (eg, Elsevier, Digital Science, etc.). They then proposed an alternative open science workflow using open tools. Examining different definitions of open, they addressed policies and manifestos (eg, Declaration on Research Assessment (DORA) and Findable, Accessible, Interoperable, and Reusable (FAIR) principles). Their analysis of survey data on researcher choices revealed what tools are used together in traditional versus open journal publication workflows.

A diagram of open scholarship tools broken into categories based on workflow.

On the second day, Lettie Conrad led a discussion around gaps in proprietary offerings that might be ripe for open solutions. Focusing on end-user tools as well as standards and services that “facilitate the delivery of scientific knowledge,” she identified those provided by nonprofit or community-based organizations with licenses as “open as humanly and technologically possible.” Potential opportunities to provide tools that would fill identified gaps included cross-platform alerting or recommendation services, translation tools, authorship and visualization tools, or contributions around pre- or post-publication peer review. Useful resources in this effort include the recent OPERAs White Paper on Open Tools and the Center for Open Science’s FOSTER program. Several days after this workshop, Lettie published her further thoughts in the Scholarly Kitchen under the title “Mapping Open Science Tools”.

“A fantastic opportunity to discuss critical issues face to face with key players in the open scholarship ecosystem.”

Explore the event program to find all the documents, presentations, video (more coming soon), and other materials generated during the workshop and companion hack day. Start your exploration with the collection of 25 short flashtalks delivered by participants from different open science projects, from ASAPbio to Wikidata. You can also see a full list of the flashtalks with links to presentations.


A major activity at the workshop was to lay the foundation for a joint roadmap by identifying major issues in specific research workflows and developing user stories for common workflow practices. Joint Roadmap participants generated a list of workflow topics leading up to the workshop, prioritizing nine topics central to research activities for deeper consideration in breakout sessions:

“Along with learning about pain points in the ecosystem I wasn’t previously thinking about, I came away with many ideas for how our project could better serve our users by leveraging and inter-operating with other projects.”

A bunch of virtual sticky notes on a virtual whiteboard.

  1. Archives & repositories: The archiving and long term storage of scientific knowledge is critical. How best can the projects within this category integrate with each other and with the researcher workflow overall?
  2. Publishing, submission & editorial: The submission, editing and publication of scholarly works sits at the center of scholarly dissemination. How can we work together to improve this core activity and integrate better with other open systems around it?
  3. Data, computing & machine learning: Collecting, analyzing, computing and storing research data is a primary responsibility of researchers in the sciences. What demands do researchers have and how can we better meet them?
  4. Review & annotation: At present, peer review is almost exclusively conducted within proprietary systems. How can we open the workflow of peer review (pre and post) at the same time we look at ways of opening the practice of peer review? How can annotation play a role?
  5. Discovery, search & access: In an era of information overload, the ability to discover what’s important, to search precisely, and to access the end result is essential. What do researchers need here, and how can we deliver?
  6. Scholarly identity & identifiers: Uniquely identifying both scholars and documents is central to the authority of scientific works, and increasingly important as part of workflow, project tracking, and linked data. How can those who create and utilize identifiers work together more effectively?
  7. Citations, citation management & researcher organization: Researchers depend upon reliable, easy-to-use tools to manage citations and track connections between resources. How can these tools be integrated most effectively into researcher workflow and with the other tools needed in the writing and publication process?
  8. Research collaboration: Research is rarely a solo enterprise. From the field, to the lab, to publication, how can we help researchers work together more effectively?
  9. Data mining, tagging & curation: Whether we look at support for human readers or machine readers, the data about the data is as important as the data itself. How can tools designed to look into the data, help organize it, and make it accessible to human researchers integrate smoothly?

During the hack day, participants started work to synthesize workshop discussion and notes for these topics to develop what will become a joint, technical roadmap for open science tools. The workshop also surfaced strong interest in developing common approaches to address cross-cutting issues in interoperability and user experience. A first draft of this roadmap will be circulated during Fall 2018, establishing a foundation that we hope will be augmented over time, and will serve the entire ecosystem as a common touchstone to identify gaps and provide solutions.

Shared Services

Attendees also collaborated to identify how the wider community of open science projects and organizations could work together more effectively, sharing best practices and resources to help establish a more coherent, broader, open ecosystem that can serve the full range of open science needs. There was a well attended unconference breakout session on running non-profits that was co-facilitated by Danielle Robinson, Co-Executive Director of Code for Science & Society, Jessica Polka, Director of ASAPbio, and Heather Piwowar, Co-Founder of Impactstory. Participants discussed the challenges of quickly getting “up to speed” on a wide range of administrative activities that are essential to running nonprofit organizations. Topics of interest included nonprofit board composition and oversight, legal structures and contracts, accounting practices, payroll processes including the use of Professional Employer Organizations (PEOs), grant writing, services pricing, and more. Explore a shared etherpad from these discussions.

What did you find most valuable about the event? “Bringing strong players together to discuss common themes such as sustainability and strengthening organisational capacity.”

An area of significant interest centered on sustainability and, specifically, earned income as it pertains to nonprofit organizations. Participants observed that there are a number of important nonprofit rules and requirements to consider that vary by geography (e.g. USA, Canada, Europe, etc.). There was general agreement that it would be helpful to create a nonprofit administrative support group going forward, with a monthly call for interested participants to share resources and knowledge on topics pertaining to nonprofit administration and fundraising. More details on this collaboration will be forthcoming.


Our coalition has identified a need to work more closely together to increase the overall flow of funding to the ecosystem of projects and services.

“I think funders need to get behind initiatives like this instead of funding sole projects, since that’s where movement really happens. If you fund several entities working towards a common goal, change and uptake is more likely to happen.”

Tilted screenshot of a scholarly article titled "The 2.5 Commitment Initiative"

David Lewis from the Invest in Open Project and Heather Joseph from SPARC led a broad discussion of new models for how the ecosystem as a whole could be better funded by increasing the net commitments from either within existing institutional library budgets, or others (research, science, engineering, etc). Also discussed was the possibility to look at agency budgets or other governmental sources of funding which could be sourced to fund the ecosystem generally. It was agreed that a census of projects and their needs would be helpful and that coordinating with other efforts at Invest in Open, SPARC (US and Europe), and beyond was essential. Ongoing calls are in process to further this work.

In Closing

The Joint Roadmap community will continue the work started at the event by further refining the draft joint technical roadmap for Fall 2018 publication and bringing participants together virtually to share common practices and develop ecosystem funding strategies. We look forward to more people and organizations joining the Joint Roadmap formally and will be working to plan how the community will come together again, both virtually and face-to-face. Learn more and get involved on the Joint Roadmap website.

Evaluations from workshop participants are still coming in, but 88.5% of the early respondents say they would attend another Joint Roadmap event and are providing strong testimonials for both the event and the Joint Roadmap’s larger goals.

Thank you to the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation and Schmidt Futures for their generous contributions to make the workshop possible. We’d also like to recognize the contributions of the organizing committee that shaped the workshop program, and John Chodacki from the California Digital Library, who helped secure the CITRUS Banatao venue.

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