by Rich Savage, CC BY 2.0

by Rich Savage, CC BY 2.0

Note: This post originally appeared on the OpenAIRE blog on 22 June 2016.

Last week, we published the Vienna Principles: A Vision for Scholarly Communication in the 21st Century. The announcement of the publication has been widely shared.

In this contribution, I’d like to provide more context on how the principles came about – starting with the network that brought the authors together: the Open Access Network Austria (OANA). OANA was established in 2012 as a joint activity under the organisational umbrella of the Austrian Science Fund (FWF) and Universities Austria (UNIKO), and it has become a well-known entity in the world of open access. Its members were for example part of the negotiation team that led to the Austrian Springer deal. OANA is also the origin of the widely shared and well-received Recommendations for the Transition to Open Access in Austria, which call for the bulk of scholarly communication in Austria to be open access by 2025. In line with OANA’s mission, the document does not only propose objectives, but also defines a set of specific recommendations for the implementation of this goal. OANA is therefore an important driving force for making open access a reality in Austria.

During OANA’s second assembly in 2015, Open Knowledge Austria brought forward a proposal to broaden the scope of the network beyond open access to explore various other instruments of open science. Based on this proposal, the OANA core team commissioned the working group “Open Access and Scholarly Communication” to sketch a vision of how open science can change scholarly communication in the long run. The working group first met in April 2015 in the Museumsquartier in Vienna. Over the following year, we had five further meetings, each of them in a different Viennese location – hence the name “Vienna Principles”.


Location of our meetings, Image contains content by OpenStreetMap Contributors, CC BY-SA 2.0

By scholarly communication we mean the processes of producing, reviewing, organising, disseminating and preserving scholarly knowledge (This definition is based on the definition found in Wikipedia [05 June 2016]). Scholarly communication does not only concern researchers, but also society at large, especially students, educators, policy makers, public administrators, funders, librarians, journalists, practitioners, publishers, public and private organisations, and interested citizens.

As you can see from our working definition above, we have a broad understanding of scholarly communication, especially when it comes to its stakeholders. Our group reflected this diverse approach: it consisted of librarians, science administrators, students and researchers from a wide range of disciplines, including arts & humanities, engineering, natural sciences and social sciences in both basic and applied contexts. Many working group members are involved in related initiatives, such as Citizen Science Austria, Open Knowledge and OpenAIRE to name just a few, and several have a relevant professional background, including publishing and  software development. The core group consisted of nine participants, but the overall work involved contributions and feedback by more than 20 people and the audiences of the 15th Annual STS Conference, Graz and the 3rd Plenary of the Open Access Network Austria.

Our work started from a number of observations that were based on our own involvement in open science, and by the experience of members of the group that had joined the movement only very recently. The first of these observations was that for many, open science is still a fuzzy concept. People are often unclear about its benefits and therefore tend to have a reserved attitude towards openness. Our second observation was that the debate within the open science community is not necessarily focused on the benefits of openness, but mostly on what constitutes openness, how to achieve openness, and what steps to take next. The classic debate around the “green” and the “gold” route to open access is a good example for this. In these discussions, many of the arguments carry implicit assumptions about the structures of a future scholarly communication system.

These observations led to a first round of input backed up by results from research into the subject, which included an analysis of the state of the debate in open access, a compilation of actors and actor groups within scholarly communication, benefits and issues of open science, and the deficits of the current scholarly communication system.

We concluded that there is currently no commonly agreed set of principles that describes the system of open scholarly communication that we want to create. Such a collection of widely shared cornerstones of the scholarly communication system would, however, help to better guide the debate around open science. At the same time, a vision that answers the question “what for?” would help to better convey the need for openness in scholarly communication to academia and society.

For the definition of the principles, we adopted a clean slate approach, as advocated for example by Cameron Neylon. This means that we set out to describe the world that we want to live in, if we had the chance to design it from scratch, without considering the restrictions and path dependencies of the current system. Our aim was to be clear, concise and as comprehensive as possible, without repeating ourselves. What followed was an intense phase, where we devised and revised, expanded and reduced, split and merged. We also addressed and incorporated the valuable feedback that we received by participants of the 15th Annual STS Conference in Graz and the 3rd Plenary of the Open Access Network Austria.

The main result of our considerations can be seen below: a set of twelve principles of scholarly communication describing the cornerstones of open scholarly communication. It is important to note that we do not see this document as the end of the matter – it is version 1.0. We invite everyone to comment on this first version on


So what’s next? The working group will continue its job in the next iteration of OANA, starting this fall. Consolidating the feedback will be an important part of our work, as well as staying on top of the developments in scholarly communication. But we we will also be busy to devise recommendations on how to turn each principle into reality, while coordinating our efforts with other groups such as the Force11 working group on the Scholarly Commons. We are looking forward to shaping the scholarly communication system of the future together with all of you!

Do you remember this blogpost from March 2011? Probably not. It contains a mindmap on open science in technology enhanced learning. I mentioned back then that we will use it as an input for a publication. Almost two years later, I am very happy to announce that this paper is now published in IJTEL. The postprint of the article is open access and can be found on Mendeley.

An intense process

In September 2010, Günter Beham and I came up with the idea for a visionary article on open science in technology enhanced learning. Flying back from EC-TEL in Barcelona, we discussed our growing concern with the irreproducibility and incomparability of TEL research. A lot has happened since then. In November, I posted a note on TELpedia looking for further collaborators. Soon thereafter, an enthusiastic Derick Leony joined us, and we started working on an abstract. We submitted this abstract in January 2011 and received encouraging feedback and important hints from two anonymous reviewers. After that we created the mindmap, and I wrote the aforementioned blogpost to include more people in the spirit of Open Science. Wolfgang Reinhardt read the post and was immediately interested; thus, he became the last member of the author collective. We intensified our research and produced several drafts accompanied by regular Skype calls and flashmeetings. We submitted a first version of our article to Inderscience in May 2011. The manuscript was reviewed by three anonymous referees. The reviewers had various requests for revisions, but we were accepted for publication on the constraint of a successful re-review. We started incorporating the changes, broadening our initial focus on reproducibility and comparability to further benefits of Open Science. A final re-review in November 2011 gave green light to publication eventually.

It was interesting to see, how the open process drew people in and how that helped to grow and refine the article. In retrospect, I think that we could have been even more open, discussing our ideas beyond the mindmap in social networks and on Twitter. That might have helped to include people other than the original authors. Well, there is always a next time! Thanks to my co-authors for an awesome collaboration, and to the anonymous reviewers for their helpful comments.  We do not see the publication as the end of the process; it is merely the start of a conversation. We want to invite you to download the paper, and tell us what you think.

Abstract: In this paper, we make the case for an Open Science in Technology Enhanced Learning (TEL). Open Science means opening up the research process by making all of its outcomes, and the way in which these outcomes were achieved, publicly available on the World Wide Web. In our vision, the adoption of Open Science instruments provides a set of solid and sustainable ways to connect the disjoint communities in TEL. Furthermore, we envision that researchers in TEL would be able to reproduce the results from any paper using the instruments of Open Science. Therefore, we introduce the concept of Open Methodology, which stands for sharing the methodological details of the evaluation provided, and the tools used for data collection and analysis. We discuss the potential benefits, but also the issues of an Open Science, and conclude with a set of recommendations for implementing Open Science in TEL.

Update: Below is a presentation of the paper that I held at the Opencamp in Graz.

Kraker, P., Leony, D., Reinhardt, W., & Beham, G. (2011). The case for an open science in technology enhanced learning International Journal of Technology Enhanced Learning, 3 (6) DOI: 10.1504/IJTEL.2011.045454

There are still some open spots for junior reviewers at the IJTEL Young Researcher Special Issue on “State-of-the-Art in Technology Enhanced Learning”. This is a good opportunity to get to know the work of a referee. Junior reviewers will be asked to review 1-2 papers; furthermore, we require junior reviewers to participate in a workshop on article reviewing. If you want to become a reviewer, please apply here. The full CfR can be found below.

International Journal of Technology Enhanced Learning  (IJTEL)

Call for Papers

Young Researcher Special Issue on: “State-of-the-Art in TEL”

Guest Editors:
Peter Kraker, Graz University of Technology, Austria
Moshe Leiba, Tel Aviv University, Israel
Martina Rau, Carnegie Mellon University, USA
Derick Leony and Israel Gutiérrez Rojas, Universidad Carlos III de Madrid, Spain
Dirk Börner, Open Universiteit in the Netherlands, The Netherlands
Antigoni Parmaxi, Cyprus University of Technology, Cyprus
Wolfgang Reinhardt, University of Paderborn, Germany


The International Journal of Technology Enhanced Learning (IJTEL) invites paper submissions for a special issue targeting young researchers in the community of Technology Enhanced Learning (TEL). This call for papers encourages a review of state-of-the-art of TEL topics, topped with a description of the current and future work carried out by the authors doing research on these topics.

This special issue is directed to all young researchers such as PhD students, post-graduate students, and post-docs working in topics related to TEL both in academia and industry, and from different disciplines of the community (technologists, educationists, psychologists, etc.).

The purpose of this special issue is manifold: (a) to provide a better overview on TEL research lines; (b) to investigate and expand current TEL research themes; (c) to promote international and multidisciplinary collaboration and exchange of ideas among young researchers; (d) to encourage young researchers to formalise their research questions, topics, and methodologies.

The International Journal of Technology Enhanced Learning (IJTEL) recognizes the value and importance of the reviewing process in the overall publication process both in shaping the individual manuscript and in highlighting the reliability and reputation of a journal. Within this framework, the identification and selection of reviewers who have expertise and interest in the topics appropriate to each manuscript are essential elements in ensuring a productive review process.

Reviewer profiles

We are inviting:

  • Junior reviewers (post-graduate students, PhD students, recent post-docs) working in research related to TEL in both academia and industry, who would like to get experience in being a reviewer and participate in a workshop on article reviewing;

  • Experienced reviewers working in research related to TEL who would like to participate in the reviewing process for the special issue.

Workshop for Junior Reviewers

We will hold a workshop on initiation to article reviewing focusing on the subject of the special issue. The workshop will be online and it will take place on late February. The participation of junior reviewers is mandatory since it is the core of their mentoring process. Experienced reviewers are welcome to join in order to provide advice from their experience.

Review process

Contributions to the Young Researcher Special Issue of the International Journal of Technology Enhanced Learning (IJTEL) will undergo a double blind review process. All submissions will be reviewed by two or three reviewers, including at least one experienced reviewer. Junior reviewers must have participated in the workshop in order to get assigned articles to review.

How to apply

Please use this form to apply as a reviewer:

Important dates

Application deadline: 10/02/2012
Review of full papers: 01/04/2012
Publication of the special issue: second half of 2012

Last week, I attended Websci’11, the 3rd International Conference on Web Science. It was a great experience to engage with such a diverse crowd; there were people from computer science, information science, social science, psychology, philosophy (and some others that I probably missed here) representing many different aspects from this multi-disciplinary field. I am still not done with going through my notes, reflecting on all the interesting things that I have learned. Koblenz itself was very welcoming to us as well: we had the pleasure to watch the lunar eclipse while sitting on the banks of the Rhine.

Our contribution to the conference was a poster on Science 2.0 practices in Technology Enhanced Learning (TEL), originating from our research in the STELLAR Network of Excellence. You can get a full sized version of the poster by clicking on the image below.

For this study, we conducted two focus groups to find out about research practices in TEL, and how they are supported by Web 2.0. You can read the accompanying paper here. In a nutshell, we asked people to list their daily tasks and duties in a classification form of their choice. Afterwards, we discussed the most interesting tasks and duties with regards to Web 2.0. In the analysis, we aggregated the results to model a map of the TEL research process. Then we identified the mentioned practices and assigned them to the process steps. Furthermore, we deduced strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats from the discussion. As the main conclusion, we found that in the early stage (“design phase”) and in the late stage (“publication phase”), researchers are very well supported. This is not the case in those process steps where the actual work is being done (i.e. “development”, “implementation”, and “evaluation”).

All in all, the poster was well received. People were able to situate their research within the process map, and they also confirmed that there was little support in the core research work. I got some suggestions for tools that are used in other disciplines. Some of them are well-known, such as myExperiment. Others I had never heard of, because they are only used within single institutions, such as a self-developed social warning system for large physical experiments. One point of critique was that the core process should be displayed as being more iterative, with the possibility to break off after a few steps (which I totally agree with). Of course, these are only the results of a smale scale study which need to be further validated. Nevertheless, I am very happy with the first feedback, and I am looking forward to exploring the subject of research practices in the context of Web 2.0.

Kraker, P., & Lindstaedt, S. (2011). Research Practices on the Web in the Field of Technology Enhanced Learning Proceedings of the ACM WebSci’11

Our contribution to the Research 2.0 Workshop at EC-TEL 2010. Get a pre-print of the paper here.

Feeding TEL: Building an Ecosystem Around BuRST  to Convey Publication Metadata
Peter Kraker, Angela Fessl, Patrick Hoefler and Stefanie Lindstaedt.

Abstract. In this paper we present an ecosystem for the lightweight exchange of publication metadata based on the principles of Web 2.0. At the heart of this ecosystem, semantically enriched RSS feeds are used for dissemination. These feeds are complemented by services for creation and aggregation, as well as widgets for retrieval and visualization of publication metadata. In two scenarios, we show how these publication feeds can benefit institutions, researchers, and the TEL community. We then present the formats, services, and widgets developed for the bootstrapping of the ecosystem. We conclude with an outline of the integration of publication feeds with the STELLAR Network of Excellence and an outlook on future developments.

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