- Coverage across the research enterprise – it is increasingly clear that research transcends disciplines, geography, institutions and stakeholders. The infrastructure that supports it needs to do the same.
- Stakeholder Governed – a board-governed organisation drawn from the stakeholder community builds more confidence that the organisation will take decisions driven by community consensus and consideration of different interests.
- Non-discriminatory membership – we see the best option as an “opt-in” approach with a principle of non-discrimination where any stakeholder group may express an interest and should be welcome. The process of representation in day to day governance must also be inclusive with governance that reflects the demographics of the membership.
- Transparent operations – achieving trust in the selection of representatives to governance groups will be best achieved through transparent processes and operations in general (within the constraints of privacy laws).
- Cannot lobby – the community, not infrastructure organisations, should collectively drive regulatory change. An infrastructure organisation’s role is to provide a base for others to work on and should depend on its community to support the creation of a legislative environment that affects it.
- Living will – a powerful way to create trust is to publicly describe a plan addressing the condition under which an organisation would be wound down, how this would happen, and how any ongoing assets could be archived and preserved when passed to a successor organisation. Any such organisation would need to honour this same set of principles.
- Formal incentives to fulfil mission & wind-down – infrastructures exist for a specific purpose and that purpose can be radically simplified or even rendered unnecessary by technological or social change. If it is possible the organisation (and staff) should have direct incentives to deliver on the mission and wind down.
- Time-limited funds are used only for time-limited activities – day to day operations should be supported by day to day sustainable revenue sources. Grant dependency for funding operations makes them fragile and more easily distracted from building core infrastructure.
- Goal to generate surplus – organisations which define sustainability based merely on recovering costs are brittle and stagnant. It is not enough to merely survive, it has to be able to adapt and change. To weather economic, social and technological volatility, they need financial resources beyond immediate operating costs.
- Goal to create contingency fund to support operations for 12 months – a high priority should be generating a contingency fund that can support a complete, orderly wind down (12 months in most cases). This fund should be separate from those allocated to covering operating risk and investment in development.
- Mission-consistent revenue generation – potential revenue sources should be considered for consistency with the organisational mission and not run counter to the aims of the organisation. For instance…
- Revenue based on services, not data – data related to the running of the research enterprise should be a community property. Appropriate revenue sources might include value-added services, consulting, API Service Level Agreements or membership fees.
- Open source – All software required to run the infrastructure should be available under an open source license. This does not include other software that may be involved with running the organisation.
- Open data (within constraints of privacy laws) – For an infrastructure to be forked it will be necessary to replicate all relevant data. The CC0 waiver is best practice in making data legally available. Privacy and data protection laws will limit the extent to which this is possible
- Available data (within constraints of privacy laws) – It is not enough that the data be made “open” if there is not a practical way to actually obtain it. Underlying data should be made easily available via periodic data dumps.
- Patent non-assertion – The organisation should commit to a patent non-assertion covenant. The organisation may obtain patents to protect its own operations, but not use them to prevent the community from replicating the infrastructure.
Bilder G, Lin J, Neylon C (2020), The Principles of Open Scholarly Infrastructure, retrieved [date], https://doi.org/10.24343/C34W2H