Academia is trapped in a collective action problem: we all know there are better ways we could be doing things, but feel pressured to ‘play the game’ in order to survive a competitive career in science. Historically, collective action problems like this have been solved with collective action, i.e. the mass uptake of new behaviours that aim to further the group’s interests. More recently, online conditional pledge platforms (e.g., Kickstarter) have demonstrated that collective action can be organised on a global scale with zero risk to users, serving to cut out middle-men and directly benefit the users themselves. At present, however, this strategy has yet to take hold in academia.
Project Free Our Knowledge (FOK) aims to rectify this by organising collective action in the research community. Using our platform, researchers can pledge to support open science practices, subject to there being a critical mass of support for the proposed behaviour. If the threshold is achieved, everyone who has pledged is contacted and directed to carry out the action together, thus motivating cultural change with minimal risk to individuals.