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OPERAS SIG on Tools for Open Scholarly Communication: White Paper 2021

Barthonnat, Céline; Blotière, Emilie; Gingold, Arnaud; Mas, François-Xavier; Stanić, Nikola; Pierno, Alessandro; Szulińska, Agnieszka; Armando, Lorenzo; Pochet, Bernard; de Santis, Luca; MacGregor, James; Pozzo, Riccardo; Pogačnik, Aleš

Bosman, Jeroen; Kramer, Bianca

This white paper is the output of the OPERAS Special Interest Group (SIG) Tools Research and Development for scholarly communication; it is an updated version of a previous 2018 white paper. With a focus on scholarly publishing tools, the objectives of the SIG Tools are to: provide a landscape analysis, identify emerging trends, and list the areas of potential improvements, developments, and collaborations. Since 2018, various studies and initiatives confirmed the necessity to both coordinate the developments of tools and provide guidance to the users. Similarly, OPERAS emphasizes the importance of building the open science scholarly communication infrastructure in Social Sciences and Humanities on community driven tools. The white paper brings information on the existing tools for scholarly publishing, as well as recommendations that will support the building of such an open scholarly communication infrastructure. 

The paper first examines tools types, definitions, and criteria that are able to facilitate their description and selection. The tools are then analyzed according to publishing main functions. For authoring, the development of online and collaborative tools represents an interesting perspective, especially when relying on structured formats, but also increases the risk of lock-in within multi-functional proprietary services. In peer reviewing, alongside widely used commercial tools, open peer review represents an innovative area, both in terms of usage and tools. Open source tools for publishing already offer a high level of service, but face interoperability challenges with the integration of an increasing variety of third-party services. A specific section is dedicated to communicating tools allowing for comments and annotations, as such function is transversal to the others. 

To complement this description, the SIG tools also identified major trends that should impact the future of scholarly communication, namely: preprint servers, artificial intelligence, data papers, and user-centric developments. In conclusion, the white paper provides a list of recommendations able to address the challenges identified and to provide building blocks for the envisioned open scholarly infrastructure. The recommendations suggest: to establish user-centric criteria for tools, a tools’ observatory, a set of training materials, guidelines about publishing workflows, and collaborations with other community initiatives.

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