At ScholarlyHub we are proud to have become an important voice in fighting for open science. The past year has taught us however that getting people to join a grassroots effort requires more than a vision; it requires a focal point, something that members can use and that aligns with our mission to create greater transparency and improve access to science. In our view, the Web’s ability to empower is currently hindered not only by private infrastructures and scholars’ addiction to prestige; it is also undermined by ignorance and ambiguity when it comes to hiring scholars or people with academic training. It may seem ironic that many of those fighting for transparency and democracy reach positions of learned authority by following obscure paths.
We would love to be able to pursue our holistic vision at once and bring together the federation of fantastic OA services and organizations we believe are serving scholarship and the democratization of knowledge well. But building open-source infrastructure for that level of interoperability requires far more funding (or donations in kind) than we have received so far. This is why we decided to adjust, think smaller and offer—as a first step on a long road—a very specific service for and by scholars, and one already mentioned in our FAQs: ProfHub.
ProfHub is a discussion board based on a job feed. It allows anyone involved in or generally curious about the academic hiring process to see an ongoing search from multiple individual perspectives at once and help resist the intentional or unwitting opacity of hiring committees’ work. We respect committee’s need to review dossiers and make decisions calmly and with the best interest of a specific work environment in mind. Our service will operate largely outside that space, gathering and sharing people’s experiences, and—equally important—assembling information on how searches are conducted more generally, for instance at the departmental or even institutional or regional level, by aggregating information from individual experiences.
In other words, ProfHub will allow people to create, access and contribute to specific job feeds conveniently, and help others, including those considering an academic career, know more about the process in real time and in the context of institutions’ performance overall. It aims to dispel mysteries, improve communications and create greater transparency about the hiring process, including by speaking to the norms it may espouse in order to make it more humane and intellectually stimulating. Greater transparency about criteria, assignments, schedule and the degree to which departments and institutions are in fact committed to the values they cherish, including intellectual excellence, equal opportunity and diversity. The service is meant to empower and expand the cycle of participants in any given job search and provide hiring committees, academic institutions and (aspiring) academics more broadly with a clearer picture than ever before about a major challenge they face.
Input can be anonymous and, as a community service, we aim to foster a truthful and constructive discussion. The service will at least initially be free and user data will never be harvested for selling to third parties, as remains the policy for ScholarlyHub generally. We hope in this way to raise awareness for the hub’s short- and long-term significance and encourage individual and institutional pledges to help us develop further and integrate new services for future members.
ProfHub will be a collaboration between ScholarlyHub and Driebit, an Amsterdam-based IT developer with vast experience in the social and cultural sectors. You can find out more about our agreement, the budget and expected milestones of the project here. Your contribution, large or small, in bringing this initiative to life will be greatly appreciated, not only by us here at ScholarlyHub, but also and especially by tens of thousands of job applicants every year. Help us make a real change soon.