The Tipping Point: Open Source at SSP 2019

From “Why” to “How soon can I get involved?”: Alison McGonagle-O’Connell, member of the Coko management team with responsibility for operations and community facilitation talks about her experience sharing the floor with members of the Coko community at SSP2019.

For three years in a row, the Coko community has convened discussion about Open Source in scholarly communications workflows at SSP’s pre-meeting seminar. While I have only been present for the last two years’ discussions, I’ve spoken with those who have participated right from the start. A couple of common threads emerge in these conversations.

According to eLife and Hindawi staff who’ve participated in all three Open Source Bazaars, as the workshop-style event has been called, year one was all about getting the idea recognized. About breaking barriers to research communication through open source tools that are community-driven and community-built. 

By year two, which was my first Open Source Bazaar, those involved from the start remarked upon how the concepts they were presenting hadn’t changed but that the participation from the group felt more engaged, less skeptical. I observed many questions that seemed to indicate that publishers were now considering whether and how they could become involved. It was still early days for us, but it was an encouraging moment.

At the third Bazaar in San Diego, we presented three PubSweet platforms – Hindawi’s Phenom, eLife’s Libero Reviewer, and Editoria – and we watched as the audience moved from anticipating results to observing them in real time. 

While the three-hour session also included participation from Hypothes.is, Ubiquity, Editoria and Fulcrum, we nearly ran out of time, but were able to answer some audience questions, most of which once again, pointed to the fact that publishers have gone from asking “why” to wondering “how soon can I get involved?”

This was also the first year that our community made it onto the main meeting program. On May 30, Paul Shannon of eLife, Andrew Smeall of Hindawi, and Coko’s Adam presented together the story of collaboration in this community in a session moderated by Ann Michael, Chief Digital Officer at PLOS.

Coko Co-founder Adam Hyde presented the Coko story, including giving an overview of the relationship between Coko and the PubSweet community, and why open infrastructure matters. Next, Paul presented on Libero Reviewer and eLife’s motivation to develop within open source communities, pointing out just how many open source projects they are involved in. Andrew Smeall, Chief Digital Officer at Hindawi demonstrated both Libero Reviewer and Hindawi’s Phenom, showing the lifecycle of a submission moving through the workflow. Andrew pointed out shared components and discussed how problem solving together in the community can yield faster results and more well-rounded, sharable solutions than working alone.

Leveraging open source technology to enable real change in scholarly communications by Andrew Smeall

While there was not a great deal of time for discussion left at the end of this 60-minute session, the few audience questions we were able to engage were great, and more importantly, indicative of publishers thinking seriously about how they can leverage the community’s work. Topics included documentation, security and hosted offerings.

If you are interested in our community, keep your eyes on our respective event calendars, as we have big plans to continue talking about our work at upcoming meetings, and we’d be delighted to see you there. Virtually speaking, we are planning a Peer Review Week webinar celebrating Quality in the Process of Peer Review. More details soon! 


This blog post is distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC-BY). The illustration is by Hindawi and is also CC-BY.