Framework for Analyzing Scholarly Communication as a Commons

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"In this paper, we extend our previous work, 'Ideas, Artifacts, and Facilities: Information as a Common-Pool Resource' that was presented at the Conference on the Public Domain at Duke University Law School in November 2001 and published in Law & Contemporary Problems (2003) 66 (1-2):111-146, The Duke paper argues that the dilemmas associated with managing information in the public domain are quite similar to those associated with managing natural resource common-pool resources (CPRs), where we can observe how the development of new technologies changes the structure and processes involved in managing these types of resources over time. We conclude that collective action and institutional design play key roles in shaping economic and social aspects of information. "This paper broadens the scope and presents a methodological tool for analyzing scholarly communication as a commons. The Institutional Analysis and Development (IAD) framework can be a useful instrument to better understand this complex resource. Scholarly communication is a much larger and more complex resource than the intellectual public domain. It includes all kinds of scholarly information, with varying types of property rights regimes. It encompasses both the products, as well as the processes of teaching, research, creativity and other types of academic scholarship. "Conceptualizing scholarly communication as a commons has the advantage of putting focus on the need for collective action, self-governance, and evolving rules that are required for the successful management and sustainability of all shared resources. Applying institutional analysis enables a clearer understanding of the various human-technology-resource relationships, and how new technologies change the nature of the commons. As with the 'environment,' this knowledge commons holds within it an entire ecosystem that reflects complex interactions between humans and the resources. "Understanding this new type of commons and applying an institutional analysis framework may facilitate a new, interdisciplinary, research agenda. This is a particularly difficult area to study and get one's hands around. And, as with all shared resources, management issues can be complex, conflicts can develop, and outcomes are uncertain. The research agenda we propose would bring to the fore the most basic and fundamental questions in society: Is the scholarly communication system, as it is developing, sustainable? Are we making wise and informed decisions as we rapidly change our universities? Do universities have increased or decreased responsibilities to society? Is the relationship between knowledge and democracy still understood in the academic mission?"



communication, information commons, institutional analysis--IAD framework, intellectual property rights, universities, knowledge, sustainability, Workshop