Perspectives on Open Science and The Future of Scholarly Communication: Internet Trackers and Algorithmic Persuasion
The current digital content industry is heavily oriented towards building platforms that track users’ behaviour and seek to convince them to stay longer and come back sooner onto the platform. Similarly, authors are incentivised to publish more and to become champions of dissemination. Arguably, these incentive systems are built around public reputation supported by a system of metrics, hard to be assessed. Generally, the digital content industry is permeable to non-human contributors (algorithms that are able to generate content and reactions), anonymity and identity fraud. It is pertinent to present a perspective paper about early signs of track and persuasion in scholarly communication. Building our views, we have run a pilot study to determine the opportunity for conducting research about the use of “track and persuade” technologies in scholarly communication. We collected observations on a sample of 148 relevant websites and we interviewed 15 that are experts related to the field. Through this work, we tried to identify 1) the essential questions that could inspire proper research, 2) good practices to be recommended for future research, and 3) whether citizen science is a suitable approach to further research in this field. The findings could contribute to determining a broader solution for building trust and infrastructure in scholarly communication. The principles of Open Science will be used as a framework to see if they offer insights into this work going forward.