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Who Should Own the Scholarly Infrastructure?

by | Nov 18, 2019 | 0 comments

Heather Piwowar

Heather Piwowar, co-founder of Our Research (a nonprofit that makes open access links available including Unpaywall), discussed why one might use open infrastructure products. What makes people choose one tool or the other. What matters? Data is sparse, but it comes down to “Is it the solution that best solves my problem?” Open helps that because increases availability: it is affordable, interoperable, and better. In some ways this is disheartening. One of the biggest questions is how to fund? Funders are usually unhappy to support maintenance after the initial installation.

Unpaywall is an open database of OA material and access to it is free. They make money by charging customers who want a contract and a local copy of the database with a weekly data feed. They have a few big customers (Web of Science, etc.) which makes them financially profitable. It’s better to be funded by a lot of small customers as an example of open infrastructure, because it frees up money, and gives insight into business model challenges.

Takeaways: the system is an example of open infrastructure. It will help you invest in open if desired. You can get lists of authors in your institution that are cited in the journals in the database, for example.


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