Supporter Community Values
To help steer the Supporter community towards a more productive and effective path, we propose a set of ten aspirational norms and values. These shared values are built from the authors' experiences and find inspiration from many places such as Robert Merton’s canonical four norms for doing modern science: universalism, communalism, disinterestedness, and organized skepticism.
We, the authors, call for a community of the willing that identifies with the following set of shared values:
1. Be as open & transparent as possible
Supporters “show their work.” For Supporters, "open" is the default behavior in research communication because it enables trust, re-use, and better communication of ideas. "Transparency" is the default behavior because it creates a collective value that benefits the broader ecosystem without necessarily precluding personal or organizational gains.
Supporters look to create long-term sustainable projects that can earn the trust from the research community for the long term. Regardless of the intellectual property perspectives, we seek to make all research content as broadly available as possible and to follow the same rigor that is expected from researchers. We want to show our work, expose their decision making, create accessible audit trails, etc. because we want to showcase the evidence behind our decisions and conclusions.
2. Practice what we preach
Supporters share a common passion for openness and transparency. We know that working with these guiding principles is a better way of communicating research. To ensure their collective success, a key value is being part of a community, sharing community values and focusing on a similar code of conduct. Action is grounded in a collaborative context of interactions in enabling research communication.
Framing Supporter actions in this collective mindset relies on members of the community being vulnerable to each other, staying true to the belief that honesty and integrity among community members encourages and rewards the entire research enterprise.
3. Begin change from within (your workplace)
Supporters are active within the context of a bigger picture that, quite often, is a local workspace. It is in these function-based settings that Supporters create real change.
Supporters strive to do their jobs well, creating a strong base and foundation within their organizations. We work to be fully assimilate into a host organization. Our credibility as members of a supporter community wanes if colleagues see us as poor contributors or outsiders. Furthermore, our passions are not just to build a supporter community. We are also aimed at building up individual spaces (publishing, libraries, technology, etc). Change begins locally.
4. Welcome all participants
Supporters are tasked with assisting in the communication of scholarship, which is ground zero for ensuring inclusivity and participation in knowledge systems. This means constantly striving for inclusivity and continually recognizing the role that power and privilege have in academic space. Supporters exist within the power dynamics of the broader research community and the world. As we create services, make decisions, build software, and fund projects, we take this into account.
Supporters work to level the playing field for all participants in their space. Not only can we help people who are interested to join the community, but we can also actively pursue people of different and diverse experiences to join and contribute ideas. Sharing interests does not (and need not) mean that everyone has the same ideas, backgrounds, and perspectives.
5. Recognize and celebrate differences
Supporters recognize allies within and external to the community. And we forge partnerships based on those common goals. We also recognize those individuals that are not allied around a particular mission, and respect their differences.
Discussion and argument are a healthy part of any community but need not prohibit the group from moving forward. Supporters respect others, allow new and different ideas to flourish, and refrain from judging or thinking in absolutes. Some of the most powerful collaborations in history have been when two seemingly disparate groups have forged alliances; being able to look past differences may result in faster progress towards common goals.
6. Respect multiple solutions
Supporters advocate and promote their favorite projects, software, and systems for research communications. But we recognize that the community benefits from multiple players coexisting (and competing). Single frameworks or services that promise to solve all problems are modern-day snake oil and oversimplify the complexity of problems. No one idea, project, or person will solve all problems—instead our strengths are our distributed interests, diversity of ideas, and promotion of competition.
We need not agree to one solution or one set of solutions. In fact, healthy competition is a valuable part of our ethos, and projects with similar end goals can—and should—coexist. Shared values and shared goals do not necessarily require 100% agreement on solutions. Research communications will be better supported if new ideas are explored and experimentation is encouraged. This means the community is growing and evolving, and is likely to better meet needs moving forward.
7. Stick to your scope
When designing a project or implementing an idea, Supporters are careful to define the mission and identify the problem to be solved. This definition takes into account existing tools, projects being developed by others, and expected future conditions that might impact their work. By building from that, Supporters maximize the utility of their work.
We constantly revisit the mission to maintain perspective on the solution being created and where it fits into the broader ecosystem. We define the project’s scope, remaining focused on the work and also supporting those that remain focused on their work. Ensuring that projects are opportunistic without scope creep is a matter of building for interoperability. This implies the importance of agreed upon community standards and the value of compliance with these standards.
8. Leverage communal wisdom to move quickly
Supporters re-use resources when possible, instead of assessing existing resources and determining that their use case differs sufficiently to "reinvent the wheel." Reuse can take many forms, even reuse of ideas, frameworks, or wisdom along with reuse of code or technology.
The Supporter community is full of unique perspectives and individuals with diverse background and experience. Supporters leverage this knowledge and share their skill sets. This may take the form of formal review of each others’ work (code reviews, peer reviews, evaluation of proposals etc.), or a mentoring or learning network for sharing challenges and solutions.
9. Encourage healthy skepticism
Supporters encourage skepticism within their community, encouraging productive debate and continually working to improve arguments and justifications. This does not mean that everything is questioned; nor that there must always be agreement. But peer review of projects through robust dialogue can ensure a healthy ecosystem of reuse. Supporters create a safe space for people to ask questions and request clarification. We use productive words when offering critique.
Supporters continually question whether current ways of doing things are the best, and whether there are ideas or solutions not being considered because of habit or ego. Individuals outside of the scholarly communications space are frequently seen engaging, contributing ideas, and offering up technology and solutions. While it is easy to be skeptical about unfamiliar projects and people, this skepticism is best kept in check so it does not prevent us from hearing and internalizing good ideas. Sometimes change is good, and sometimes the best ideas are from those with fresh perspectives.
10. Collaborate & be stronger together
Supporters look for opportunities to look outward, to reach across sectors, and to collaborate. Taking pride in our work is appropriate, but part of being a good supporter is being willing to share credit and promote other community members. Supporters value jumping in with eyes wide open and with an open heart. We are not risk averse. We work towards greater productivity through collaboration, openness and transparency.