In September 2020, we at Liberate Science published our manifesto. The document was primarily written by Alison Harbin and Chris Hartgerink with myself as a contributing author. I am including this document in my portfolio to provide insight into the guiding principles behind what we are trying to accomplish. The original document was published on the Liberate Science blog.
We move towards and build open, dialectical systems that are actively inclusive, because we know that those whose voices were not heard are the most important for a new equitable system. You see, the means must justify the end, not the other way around.
Just as fracking injects forces of water, sand, and chemicals into the earth to extract just one (valuable) commodity, so too has research been reduced from the pursuit of knowledge into a singular, commodified Knowledge.™ Our research is fracked, in that it is taken, converted, and commodified into publications, citations, and rankings.
We have inadvertently handed over the pursuit of knowledge to those who wish to commodify it for their own gain. The majority of scholarly publishing is controlled by a handful of corporations who publish research that they did not pay for, conduct, or review. Universities have been hollowed out to compete in rankings, dependent upon the quantity of publishing output, not its quality, and in so doing, knowledge is uprooted, manipulated, and sold (fracked).
We find ourselves surrounded by fracked, barren fields where there could be organic fields of knowledge. Where there could be collaboration that is accessible to all, we instead find our research reduced to linear, heroic narratives of scientific progress. Conditions apply to the heroes, where similarity is favored, preventing heroes of all kinds. The reality is that, more often than not, collaboration becomes subordination, data is locked away, used uncontrollably, and only a select few have access. The ends do not justify the means.
It is time to exceed the unsustainable principles of this capitalist knowledge economy; beyond articles, beyond knowledge precarity, beyond academic institutions—beyond the limits of the status quo.
Is a scientific commons that exists alongside, yet in defiance of, the established hierarchy even possible?
Rather than an ecosystem polluted by capitalist scarcity, we enrich and sustain an alternative through collaboration and communication. We are in the process of becoming a sustainable ecosystem of abundance. We build a symbiotic cycle (rhizosphere) with nutrients, fungi (other ways of knowing), and dirt (the stuff of which knowledge is made). We are becoming rhizomatic.
We are an ecology of knowledge, not a Knowledge™ economy. In an endlessly growing system, we remain distinct from one another but also simultaneously interconnected. Many mistake us for roots, but we have no use for stasis. We nourish an ecology of knowledge to enrich-embody-perpetuate. Release, flux, flow. Connections and connectivity, multiples within a multiplicity. Where one part withers, the rhizosphere enlivens another.
We know lasting change requires time to grow organically and sustainably. Our constantly expanding rhizome ensures the inevitable take-over of fields, which is to say, the field of science commons.
We take our cues from those who have been here before us, the predecessors to our fugitivity provide direction, multiplication, a becoming-other to the way things have been done.
Who is this for, you ask? Everyone striving for knowledge — researchers, scholars, activists, and technologists. Those inside and outside the community, seeking to actively contribute to the pursuit of knowledge beyond reputation. Join us. Liberate science.
Allison Harbin (author)
Chris Hartgerink (author)
Patrick Sobrak-Seaton (author)
Hans van Dijk
Dr. Jens Mittelbach
Dr. Olivier Pourret
Dr. Vinodh Ilangovan
Dr. Rachael Ainsworth
Dr. Bruce Caron
Dr. Kourtesis Panagiotis
Tod Robbins, MLIS
Dasapta Erwin Irawan
Dr. Juneman Abraham (Indonesian Psychological Association)
Jan Hennigs, PhD
Gerben ter Riet