This white paper has been elaborated by the Tools (R&D) Working Group, one of the 7 Working Groups launched by the OPERAS research infrastructure. The Working Group goal was to set up a list of tools and development which need to be done, to improve their usability for the OPERAS partners.
The approach in OPERAS emphasizes the importance of building the open science scholarly communication infrastructure in Social Sciences and Humanities on community driven tools. In this perspective, the development of Open Source tools and the setup of a toolbox appear to be appropriate answers to the existing needs and evolutions in scholarly publishing.
Following a first discussion in the Working Group, participants discussed the partners’ practices and needs to help focus the Working Group objectives on three functions:
- Peer review: interest in emerging practices such as open peer review, peer review tracking
- Authoring: interest in simple and all-in-one services, especially online and collaborative authoring
- Publishing: in particular, simple tools needed by small academic journals
The main results of the Working Group are:
- Notes on observed trends
- A common approach and criteria for choosing tools
- A list of relevant tools, detailing features and functionalities
- An analysis of the current needs of the partners
For Peer Review, the reviewing workflow is implemented in most Open Source software like Open Journal System (OJS) but developments are still needed to match the commercial software services. Similarly, the review tracking data available via services such as Publons is currently not open. The emerging trend for Open Peer Review represents an innovative area, both in terms of usage and tools.
For Authoring, we see a bloom of new online and collaborative tools. Promising Open Source software for editing structured scholarly content are being developed and are near to production, alongside commercial tools such as Authorea or Overleaf. One of the main challenges, in this case, is to obtain a continuous production environment through interoperability.
For Publishing, several Open Source software solutions are already used in production, but, as the level of service expected from a publication service is rising and includes a growing number of third party services, the community is considering ways of working together to combine their effort to be comparable with the state of the art of the commercial solutions.
The Operas partners are willing to go beyond this working group and consider engaging in follow-up projects, notably to help create a resource centre dedicated to providing the community with current information and support on scholarly communication software and tools, and to contribute to the effort in developing Open Source tools.