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ScholarlyHub will redefine scholarly social networks. It aims to become a member-run and owned, non-profit portal for sharing and improving scholarly communications among scholars and between scholars and the public at large. It seeks to provide a dynamic, multidisciplinary, peer-to-peer, open-access environment that combines traditional and innovative quality control procedures, pre- and post-publication services, and opportunities for network-based collaboration, publication, mentorship, learning and debate. Its successful development will make scholarship across disciplines visible and accessible, foster the sustainable preservation of research and protect scholars’ independence from conglomerate publishers’ market-oriented needs on the one hand and myopic government agendas on the other. In doing so it is guided by these Principles for Open Scholarly Infrastructures

While the actual configuration of ScholarlyHub will be determined through an ongoing discussion among its members, its ethos is that of an open, not-for-profit global learned society, supported by modest, sliding-scale membership fees. All members have an equal voice and enjoy the site’s full range of services, including personal websites, data storage, in-mail, job and conference wikis, mentorship programs, teaching aids and access to a variety of review protocols. ScholarlyHub will not sell users’ data and will be run for and by its community.

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Why do we need it?

Human curiosity and creativity flourish in a safe but critical space, for the benefit of all. At present, however, such spaces are the dwindling right of the few, while intellectual merit, equal opportunity and straightforward efficiency decreasingly define the scholarly effort. Ostensible solutions, such as the major academic social networking sites, are mostly repositories backed by venture capitalists, whose commitment is above all to profit, not science or repairing an unjust academic system. They also have a limited social-network element at best. At the same time, scientific publications are increasingly produced, managed and sold by a small group of large conglomerates whose agenda is dictated by profit margins and performance indicators meant to satisfy shareholders, not improve the quality of science and its dissemination or the wellbeing of society. In this reality, the price of publishing has risen dramatically (though not its actual production costs), further depleting research budgets, saddling taxpayers and academic institutions with a far larger bill than necessary, limiting access to scholarship by placing it behind expensive paywalls and promoting a hierarchy of publication venues based on questionable metrics. Last, populist local and regional politics have been forcing research agendas in certain directions by reallocating funding. In doing so they have impoverished the notion of scientific relevance, narrowed the horizons of science and rendered vulnerable numerous scientific fields.

To counter these trends, ScholarlyHub seeks to become a sustainable alternative for bringing scholars closer together in an otherwise fragmented and often biased academic world, whose pressures are too often unrelated to the pursuit of quality research and teaching. Above all, it puts members (and not metrics or money or agendas imposed from the political top down) in charge of determining what quality scholarship is, thereby providing society at large with the broadest and most accessible panorama of current research.


How does it work?

Members, having paid a small fee, create personal, thematic, project-related, associational or institutional profiles and populate them with scholarly content they have generated as they see fit. These are stored in a searchable open-access archive, and are directly viewable and downloadable from the portal by anyone. Members can join existing networks and/or create new ones, and engage in any and all activities on the platform, from recommending articles and creating events, mentoring, following and contributing to conference wikis and discussion boards, to peer-reviewing and publishing articles, to curating journals and—crucially—setting up new virtual research platforms and initiatives.

Visitors can freely search, access and download content published on the site, subject to a fair-use policy (limited number of downloads per visit).


Who is behind it?

ScholarlyHub is a joint initiative of an ad hoc group of scholars and open science activists from around the world. It has been inspired by but is fully independent from the United Academics Foundation in Amsterdam. In its initial form, the hub is run by a dedicated project team and is overseen by an advisory board representing different scholarly disciplines, fields of expertise and science-using communities from around the world, all of whom share the goal of building an open learned society and increasing access to scholarship. Beyond the initial phase, ScholarlyHub policies and activities will be deliberated and determined by its members, and according to a governance structure decided upon by them. The transition will be facilitated by the advisory board.


How is it financed?

ScholarlyHub will develop its capacities according to members’ contributions and needs. To do so it will seek grants from organizations and individuals supporting open science, although its explicit aim is to build on modest annual membership fees (e.g. $25; $10 for students), similar to existing learned societies but facilitating a broader user basis. Certain services the hub will offer non-members may further contribute to offsetting costs and reducing fees. As an open, learned community-oriented and run endeavor, the hub will not sell its data, open itself to advertising or charge members for author processing costs (APCs).


What is the hub’s access policy?

So long as it does not violate copyright and IP laws, any content that is designated by its author/s as “published” on the website will be freely accessible and directly downloadable, while remaining proprietary to its author/s. Certain environments within the hub may offer limited access to works in progress and data sets in development. Peer-review sessions, be it pre- or post-publication, may also be invite-only, depending upon the author’s and journal’s preferences.


Who can become a member and what are the costs?

Anyone interested in any aspect of science and scholarship can become a member. Fulfilling certain functions on the site, such as becoming an expert peer reviewer, may require certification and/or recommendation. Annual fees are modest (currently projected to be $25; $10 for students). Associational, project-based and institutional memberships will also be made available. Ideally, the hub will work with and host existing and new learned societies and help expand their digital capacities and non-traditional membership.


Do you need to be a member to access content?

No. Anyone can search, view and directly download content designated as published on the website, subject to a fair-use policy (limited downloads per visit).


Do you need to become a member to access other services?



Do you need to register or volunteer information to access content?



What happens to data generated by users and members?

Shared publications and uploaded research results remain the intellectual property of their authors. All generated user data will be owned by the site’s members through ScholarlyHub. Unless members decide otherwise, metadata will not be shared or sold to a third party, and only used for internal development purposes, as agreed upon by the members. Members can also choose to display (certain aspects of) their metrics or none at all.


Can I transfer my data directly from other sites to ScholarlyHub?

No. In order to be able to do so your current host must provide an API (Application Program Interface), yet most platforms, including those who claim they promote open access, do not. However, our IT team could support current hosts in creating APIs. ScholarlyHub will provide APIs, especially to allow institutions and learned societies to access our library and make its content available within its own trusted and secure infrastructure.


What is your data privacy and security policy?

The website will take reasonable measures necessary to protect the stability and security of papers and datasets and the privacy of its members information where relevant. There is also sufficient backup to restore the data if necessary. 


Do you have a notice and take-down policy?

Yes. Scholars can upload papers as long as they are the lawful copyright owners or have permission to do so. If a copyright infringement complaint is received with relevant evidence, the website will take the material down until proof to the contrary is provided. The website as a platform does not actively monitor data and is not responsible for the papers and for data generated by users and members. It is expected, however that members will upload their own original work and treat others’ with respect.


What is you social responsibility policy?

Science suffocates without free speech, just as it does behind paywalls. But whether you are engaged in critical review of a book or article, a strategic debate about the website, or any other activity related to promoting scholarship, you will be expected to treat your environment and fellow-members with respect and in a way that promotes a critical exchange of ideas. Manifestations of racism, sexism or any other exclusionary attitudes, as well as blatant forms of personal enmity will not be tolerated.

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Let’s build an open learned society, from the ground up.