Academic Commons Solution Stories

Academy commons have no intrinsic hierarchies, rankings, or reward systems

Academy commons’ emphasis on equity, openness, sustainability, and research­ and culture driven structures means that they cannot have any intrinsic hierarchies or rankings. All participants and all research objects that conform to the principles of an academy commons are equally appropriate and available for dissemination and reuse. Attribution systems and formats are driven by the demands of transparency and the intrinsic nature of research, rather than the requirements of any reward system.



Hypercompetition and the demands of hierarchical rating systems are having a demonstrably perverse effect on research and research communication. They encourage short­-term gaming, result and effect inflation, and, in the most serious cases, fraud. They discourage crucial aspects of “Normal” science, including replication and the reporting of negative results.


The fundamental properties of an academy commons are incompatible with the development of internal hierarchies, rewards, or reward systems. As these commons are built to produce the best scholarship and research and make knowledge accessible so that it can be used, the motivation for commoners is to contribute towards these goals and not prestige. ​


Attribution and credit taxonomies allows for credit for specific activities so that a commoner’s participation in a commons is explicit.​​​ All contributors are acknowledged on an equal basis (meaning there is no intrinsic difference between authorial and other acknowledgements); all forms of dissemination are accepted on an equal basis (meaning there is no hierarchy among genres or formats). Commoners are expected to match the form of dissemination to the needs of the research output rather than the demands of a reward system. None of this is compatible with systems that create hierarchies among types or forms of contribution or encourage dissemination in one format over another.


This does not preclude others from developing ranking or rewards systems as a means of encouraging (or discouraging) specific types of work. Promotion or tenure might still require a demonstration of certain types or amounts of work. Projects might wish for budgetary or other reasons to focus on some kinds of research and not others. Participation in a commons, however, requires commoners to consider such use of hierarchies extremely cautiously, and recognise the potential for harm such systems have historically posed.


Adapted from Version .05 Force11 Commons Principles


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Idea No. 32