Table of contents




1: Unit & Form

1.1: Requirements

2: Tools & Technologies

2.1: Creation, Archiving & Sharing

3: Data, Software & Workflows

3.1: Standards & Practices

4: Financial Models

4.1: Scholarly Enterprise

4.1.1: Open Enterprises

4.1.2: Tools

4.1.3: Content Quality

5: Business Models

5.1: Value

6: Methods & Metrics

6.1: Mechanisms


Force11 White Paper: Improving The Future of Research Communications and e-Scholarship

This document highlights the findings of the Force11 workshop on the Future of Research Communication and e-Scholarship held at Schloss Dagstuhl, Germany, in August 2011: it summarizes a number of key problems facing scholarly publishing today, and presents a vision that addresses these problems, proposing concrete steps that key stakeholders can take to improve the state of scholarly publishing.

More about Force11 can be found at This White Paper is a collaborative effort that reflects the input of all Force11 attendees at the Dagstuhl Workshop , and is very much a living document. We see it as a starting point that will grow and be updated and augmented by individual and collective efforts by the participants and others. We invite you to join and contribute to this enterprise.


Start: 2012-02-19 End: Publication Date: 2013-05-08


First name: Owen

Last name: Ambur

Email Address:


Name: Force 11

Acronym: F11

Description: Force11 (the Future of Research Communication and e-Scholarship) is a community of scholars, librarians, archivists, publishers and research funders that has arisen organically to help facilitate the change toward improved knowledge creation and sharing. Individually and collectively, we aim to bring about a change in scholarly communication through the effective use of information technology. Force11 has grown from a small group of like-minded individuals into an open movement with clearly identified stakeholders associated with emerging technologies, policies, funding mechanisms and business models. While not disputing the expressive power of the written word to communicate complex ideas, our foundational assumption is that scholarly communication by means of semantically-enhanced media-rich digital publishing is likely to have a greater impact than communication in traditional print media or electronic facsimiles of printed works. However, to date, online versions of ‘scholarly outputs’ have tended to replicate print forms, rather than exploit the additional functionalities afforded by the digital terrain. We believe that digital publishing of enhanced papers will enable more effective scholarly communication, which will also broaden to include, for example, better links to data, the publication of software tools, mathematical models, protocols and workflows, and research communication by means of social media channels.


Philip E. Bourne: Editor

Tim Clark: Editor

Robert Dale: Editor

Anita de Waard: Editor

Ivan Herman: Editor

Eduard H. Hovy : Editor

David Shotton: Editor

Bradley P. Allen: Contributor

Aliaksandr Birukou: Contributor

Judith A. Blake: Contributor

Philip E. Bourne : Contributor

Simon Buckingham Shum: Contributor

Gully A.P.C. Burns: Contributor

Leslie Chan : Contributor

Olga Chiarcos: Contributor

Paolo Ciccarese : Contributor

Tim Clark : Contributor

Laura Czerniewicz: Contributor

Robert Dalec: Contributor

Anna De Liddoj : Contributor

David De Roureg: Contributor

Anita De Waardd : Contributor

Stefan Deckern : Contributor

Alex Garcia Castro: Contributor

Carole Goble: Contributor

Eve Gray: Contributor

Paul Groth : Contributor

Udo Hahn : Contributor

Ivan Herman: Contributor

Eduard H. Hovy: Contributor

Michael J. Kurtz: Contributor

Fiona Murphy: Contributor

Cameron Neylon: Contributor

Steve Pettifer : Contributor

Mike W. Rogers: Contributor

David S. H. Rosenthal: Contributor

David Shotton: Contributor

Jarkko Siren: Contributor

Herbert van de Sompel: Contributor

Peter van den Besselaar: Contributor

Todd Vision: Contributor

Scholars: For scholars (also in their roles as authors, editors and reviewers) the benefits are better communication of knowledge: easier transmission of information from its creators or discovers (the producers), in more forms using richer media, permitting easier, faster and deeper interpretation of the information by the consumers (other scholars, students and their teachers, government and non-governmental agencies, industry, the media, and society at large). At the same time, these new and enhanced forms of communication will enable more accurate evaluations of the quality and the impact of scholars’ work, facilitating better promotion evaluations and proposal assessments.

Decision Makers: Similarly, for decision makers and managers, the new communicative forms mean that the impacts and effects of scholarly communications, and hence of their authors, can more easily be tracked and evaluated.


Research Funders: For research funders, enhanced communications will enable more accurate overviews of the size, direction and importance of each stream of research, and permit quicker determination of the quality of the work cited in grant proposals. But these advances mean that established practice will need to change.

Librarians: For librarians and archivists, while online accessibility will mean that traditional library holdings become less important, the archiving, updating and maintenance of digital data and software will increase in importance. Adapting to these changes will bring about new modes of service to users.


Publishers: Similarly, for publishers, the traditional functions of manuscript compilation and distribution will change radically, while quality control, access facilitation, new modes of aggregation, and the standardization, maintenance, and support of knowledge access technologies become more important. Providing these services will allow publishers successfully to face the challenges of free access to published research that is being ushered in by the open access movement.


... a future in which scientific information and scholarly communication more generally become part of a global, universal and explicit network of knowledge; where every claim, hypothesis, argument — every significant element of the discourse — can be explicitly represented, along with supporting data, software, workflows, multimedia, external commentary, and information about provenance.


To create and use new forms of scholarly publication that work with reusable scholarly artifacts and change the socio-technical scholarly and commercial ecosystem

Goal 1: Unit & Form

Rethink the unit and form of the scholarly publication


1.1: Requirements

Other Information:

Existing formats needlessly limit, inhibit and undermine effective knowledge transfer -- Scholarly communications are, at this mid-point in the digital revolution, in an ill-defined transitional state — a ‘horseless carriage’ state — that lies somewhere between the world of print and paper and the world of the web and computers, with the former still exercising significantly more influence than the latter. However, the recent development of new media and communicative possibilities using information technology, and the need to communicate and comprehend increasing amounts of additional information such as numerical and multimedia data, make the traditional forms inadequate. Continued reliance on paper documents and their electronic shadows make it very difficult or impossible to incorporate massive amounts of data, moving images or software; there is simply no natural way to associate such ancillary information ‘into’ the traditional publication. Additionally, any software-based text mining or information extraction procedures require that paper-based information first be converted into machine-tractable form and made freely available for such mining.

Objective 1.1: Requirements

Respond to the requirements of scientists for improved dissemination, reproducibility, recognition, etc.



Other Information:

What are the next steps? Change is likely to occur gradually through a series of incremental steps, most of which will not be driven by the technology. Rather, the technology should respond to the recognized requirements of scientists for improved dissemination, reproducibility, recognition, etc. These requirements need to be assessed and formalized. The very existence of Force11 is an acknowledgement of the need for changes, but these changes need to be quantified and specifications drawn up for their solution.

Goal 2: Tools & Technologies

Develop tools and technologies that better support the scholarly lifecycle


2.1: Creation, Archiving & Sharing

Other Information:

Improved knowledge dissemination mechanisms produce information overload -- Scholars have experienced information overload for more than a century [Vickery, 1999] and the problem is just getting worse. Online access provides much better knowledge discovery and aggregation tools, but these tools struggle with the fragmentation of research communication caused by the rapid proliferation of increasingly specialized and overlapping journals, some with decreasing quality of reviewing [Schultz, 2011].

Objective 2.1: Creation, Archiving & Sharing

Be concerned with modes of archiving and sharing papers, data, workflows, models and software, and with the creation of research objects as part of the daily research routines.


Scholarly Community

Other Information:

What are the next steps? To begin with, we want the scholarly community to be concerned with modes of archiving and sharing papers, data, workflows, models and software, and with the creation of research objects as part of their daily research routines. Other questions to explore include: What are the features of the research lifecycle and how do they impact the contents of and relationships between the artefacts that constitute digital research objects? How can existing tools be adapted to fit the specific workflow requirements of different scholarly domains? How can these tools be optimally integrated with environments to read, write and edit publications, and to create and evaluate research data?

Goal 3: Data, Software & Workflows

Add data, software, and workflows into the publication as first-class research objects


3.1: Standards & Practices

Other Information:

Claims are hard to verify and results are hard to reuse -- Most types of scholarship involve claims, and all sciences and many other fields require that these claims be independently testable. Good results are often re-used, sometimes thousands of times. But actually obtaining the necessary materials, data or software for such re-use is far harder than it should be. Even in the rare cases where the data are part of the research communication, these are typically relegated to the status of ‘supplementary material’, whose format [Murray-Rust, 2007] and preservation [Rosenthal and Reich, 2010] are inadequate. Sometimes the data are archived in separate data repositories that offer a more secure long-term future. But in such circumstances efforts need to be made to ensure that their links to the relevant textual research communications are explicit, robust and persistent. At present it is difficult for a scholar easily and sustainably to record the data on which the work is based in a form that others can absorb and use, and to maintain links to the associated textual publication.

Objective 3.1: Standards & Practices

Link archiving, retrieving and citing digital research objects with open data and open-source software publication approaches, converging on common standards and practices.

Other Information:

What are the next steps? Efforts at archiving, retrieving and citing digital research objects in standardized ways should be closely linked with open data and open-source software publication approaches, and should converge on common standards and practices. Citations to datasets and other digital research objects within publications should be treated on a par with the current treatment of bibliographic citations. Citations to these in the text should be made with a standard reference mark (in-text reference pointer) and the full reference should be given in the reference list of the publication, using a resolvable globally unique identifier (URL, DOI, HDL). Additionally, a formal semantic representation in OWL/RDF of the metadata describing these research objects, their provenance, their relationships to and citations of one another, etc., would be very useful and is now achievable. However, improved tools are required to reduce the labour of creating such metadata.

Goal 4: Financial Models

Derive new financially sustainable models of open access


4.1: Scholarly Enterprise

4.1.1: Open Enterprises

4.1.2: Tools

4.1.3: Content Quality

Other Information:

There is a tension between commercial publishing and the provision of unfettered access to scholarly information -- Next-generation Tools Require Unfettered Resource Access -- Currently, a large and active movement of professionals and students, including data curators, are providing services intended to improve the effectiveness of scholarly communication, and thereby the productivity of researchers; these entail digging facts out of textual publications and presenting them in machine-readable actionable form. The need for much of this expensive manual effort would be reduced if authors were to provide the relevant metadata at the time of publication. These extraction processes are increasingly being performed by automated text mining and classification software. However, because the source material is usually copyrighted, and these rights are distributed across a large number of publishers, the service providers are forced to negotiate individual contracts with each publisher, which is extremely wasteful of time and resources. To reduce this burden, some research funders are increasingly mandating that research results of all types be made openly available. However, this results in a confusing world where some publications are immediately and freely available and others on the same topic are not. A related problem is the effect of the web as the medium for scholarly communication, since it is ending the role of local library collections. Libraries and archives have been forced to switch from purchasing copies of the research communications of interest to their readers, to leasing web access to the publishers’ copies, with no assurance of long-term accessibility to current content if future subscriptions lapse. Bereft of almost all their original value to scholars, libraries are being encouraged to both compete in the electronic publishing market and to take on the task of running ‘institutional repositories’, in effect publishing their scholars’ data and research communications. Though both tasks are important, neither has an attractive business model. Re-publishing an open access version of their scholars’ output where research is published in subscription-access journals may seem redundant, but it is essential if the artificial barriers that intellectual property restrictions have erected to data-mining and other forms of automated processing are to be overcome [Hargreaves, 2011].

Objective 4.1: Scholarly Enterprise

Influence scholarly enterprise.

Other Information:

What are the next steps? Force11 members are stakeholders in all aspects of the scholarly enterprise and can influence it in different ways, but all start from the vision outlined above. Some specific steps we now need to take are:

Objective 4.1.1: Open Enterprises

Start open enterprises that foster change: e.g., new data and software journals, institutional repositories that enable straightforward content exchange.

Objective 4.1.2: Tools

Develop tools that highlight non-traditional forms of scholarly output such as database annotations created, blog posts written, and software developed.

Objective 4.1.3: Content Quality

Develop means to assess and highlight the quality of OA content and other non-traditional forms of scholarly output.

Goal 5: Business Models

Derive new business models for science publishers and libraries


Science Publishers



5.1: Value

Other Information:

Traditional business models of publishing are being threatened -- Academic publishers have been slower to encounter, but are not immune from, the disruption that the internet has wrought on other content industries[The Economist, 2009]. The academic publishers’ major customers, academic libraries, are facing massive budget cuts [Kniffel and Bailey, 2009], and so are unlikely to be a major source of continued revenue. The internet has greatly reduced the costs of publishing, new players (such Google and other software companies) have appeared in the market, and legislative and funding bodies are actively addressing issues of free access to data and text [Hargreaves, 2011]. The advent of the internet has greatly reduced the monetary value that can be extracted from paper-based academic content, and science publishers, who have traditionally depended on extracting this value, face a crisis, since their old business models are suffering disruption. Conversely, the internet permits the creation of new added-value services relating to search, semantics and integration that present exciting new commercial opportunities. Clearly the scholarly publishing industry needs to engage in discussions with different partners within the value chain, if it is to be included in the development of the new standards, services, business models, metrics/analysis, legislation, knowledge ecosystems and evaluation frameworks that the internet now makes possible, rather than being supplanted by new agile startups that have the ability to adapt more swiftly. The software developers who build the current research informatics infrastructure are also very aware of the shortfalls and hindrances generated by today’s fragmented development efforts. The problems here can be attributed to a number of elements. First, heterogeneous technologies and designs, and the lack (or sometimes the superfluity!) of standards, cause unnecessary technical difficulties and directly affect integration costs. Second, a complex landscape of intellectual property rights and licensing for software add legal concerns to developers’ requirements. Third, research software developers typically work in a competitive environment, either academic or commercial, where innovation is rewarded much more highly than evolutionary and collaborative software reuse. This is especially true in a funding environment driven by the need for intensive innovation, where reusing other peoples’ code is a likely source of criticism. Finally, even under optimal technical conditions, it is still challenging for software programmers to understand what components are the most appropriate for a given challenge, to make contact with the correct people to facilitate the construction of tools, and to work within distributed teams across groups to build high-quality interoperable software. The impact of these tools is, far too often, solely based on how immediately useful they will be to researchers themselves, with no thought for the wider community. Thus changing roles and business models form an immense challenge for libraries, publishers and software developers. The only fruitful way forward, we firmly believe, will be for all parties collaborating to build new tools that optimally support scholarship in a distributed open environment. Only by creating a demonstrably better research environment will we convince the entire system of scholarly communication and merit assessment to adopt new forms and models.

Objective 5.1: Value

Demonstrate tangible value of new communication modes to both producers and consumers.

Other Information:

What are the next steps? To be financially viable, new communication modes will need to demonstrate tangible value to both producers and consumers. To be sustainable, the cost recovery streams will need to be aligned to perceived value. An additional factor that should be taken into account is that there are at least three different market sectors to which new products and services may be targeted: tools for producers (aka researchers), enhanced products for consumers (researchers again), and reputation management (for individuals, institutions, and funding bodies). In Dagstuhl, the Force11 group started to work on a more detailed business model, based on the Business Model Generation methodology [Osterwalder and Pigneur, 2010]. The results of this work will be made available on the Force11 web site

Goal 6: Methods & Metrics

Derive new methods and metrics for evaluating quality and impact that extend beyond traditional print outputs to embrace the new technologies


6.1: Mechanisms

Other Information:

Current academic assessment models don’t adequately measure the merit of scholars and their work over the full breadth of their research outputs -- Not only are the products of research activity still firmly rooted in the past, so too are our means of assessing the impact of those products and of the scholars who produce them. For five decades, the impact of a scholarly work—an entity that is already narrowly defined, in the sciences as a journal article, and in the humanities as a monograph—has been judged by counting the number of citations it receives from other scholarly works, or, worse, by attributing worth to an individual’s work based solely on the overall impact factor of the journal in which it happens to be published. We now live in an age in which other methods of evaluation, including article-level usage metrics, blog comments, discussion on mail lists, press quotes, and other forms of media, are becoming increasingly important reflections of scholarly and public impact. Failure to take these aspects into account means not only that the impact and/or quality of a publication is not adequately measured, but also that the current incentivization and evaluation system for scholars does not relate well to the actual impact of their activities.

Objective 6.1: Mechanisms

Develop better mechanisms of measurement that allow for different types of impact and influence.

Other Information:

What are the next steps? It is accepted that metrics are still needed; however better mechanisms of measurement need to be put in place, that allow for different types of impact and influence. A multi-dimensional measurement instrument would be useful. It needs to be customisable for specific situations and individual and it must be easy to use both for the individual academic and for the reviewer or decision-maker. What is being measured could include: *Quality (exploiting new forms of measurement mechanisms) *Influence (using new forms of alternative metrics) *Social impact (measured, for example, through development goals) *Economic impact *Contribution to education (use in lectures, reading lists etc) *Openness, making scholarly resources shareable, accessible, and re-usable. Mechanisms for measuring need to be reviewed in an age where traditional forms of peer review are also under critical scrutiny. Although work has been undertaken to formalise these alternative notions of impact, none are directly applicable today. On the Force11 website, we make some concrete proposals for describing and utilising such new metrics.
(Stylesheet revision: 2012-09-20)


Stylesheet revision (main): 2010-10-20T20:10:10.20Z
Stylesheet revision (base): 2010-10-20T20:10:10.20Z