OpenCon 2014 : In the heart of Open Science advocacy

Last week, I attended for HackYourPhD the OpenCon 2014 (Nov-Dec 15-17th) gathering the early career researchers on Open Access, Open Data and Open Science. As a representative of our Open Science community, I had the chance to be one of the 80 participants selected for a full traveling grant. Being part of 175 open science/education students and researchers from around the world was a great acknowledgement for the work we have done with HackYourPhD.

I can tell, without any doubt, that this conference was the most well organized event I have never been. As we say in french, we were treated « aux petits oignons » (kid gloves). This conference was organized not only FOR the early career researchers. It was organized also BY a committee of students and ECR with Right to Research Coalition and the support of SPARC.

The first two days was held at the University of Washington. It was a good balance between keynotes, panels, and workshops to give us an overview of the current State of Open Science and Education and its impact in the US, but also in other parts of the world (India, Latin America, Africa…)

The first day we got the feedback of several founders of Open Science initiatives but also their vision of the future of Open. I personally enjoyed the panel about the Innovative Publishing Models with a presentation of Peer J and eLife.

As usual, the vision of John Wilbanks (keynote speaker) about the importance of Open as a platform was really inspiring. He mentioned ingeniously the difference between a sharing and a rental economy, and stressed also the importance of UX design for the Open movement.

The presentation of Latin American initiatives was really interesting and I discovered redalyc (digital library of Open Access Journals for LatinAmerica) and its ecosystem with great pleasure.

I also followed online discussions on Twitter, especially exchanges between digital humanists and social researchers. It is true that scientific fields as life science and computer science was more represented in the conference compared to social sciences. This make sense with the supports of the MaxPlanck Institute, eLife (Presenting Sponsor), and PLOS (Webcast Sponsor.). Nevertheless, we had a nice presentation of the project « Open Libraries for the Humanities ».

The second day was more practical with workshops. I enjoyed the really instructive panel co-chaired by Erin McKiernan and Ross Mounce about How to make your research open.


OpenCon 2014 Workshop CC BY Suhrob Niyazov on Flickr

 

This conference let also spaces for networking. The social events (unconference, diner) bus also time in the bus or in the public transport were perfect for it.

The last days was dedicated to advocacy training and meeting at the Congress. Split in small groups, it was a great occasion to listen Open Science/Education stories from each others and meet people we haven’t met yet. I was part of the group which went to the meeting at the Institute for Museum and Libraries services. We were 20 and most of the group were librarians. The discussion with Robert Horton (associate deputy director for library services) was focused on specific issues about data management in libraries and technical issues. It was quite inspiring concerning French research and gave lot of inspiration for future actions.

I was surprised to notice that the discussion in France are really different than there, especially concerning the Open Access Models. During the conference, Nobody mentioned the EpiJournals or the Diamond Open Access models. Why? Are we perhaps more attached to the autonomy of the University in France ? With the participation of PeerJ, PLOS and eLife, the representation of Open Access Gold was certainly predominant.

For HackYourPhD, my contribution have been to document the events by live-tweeting, making audio interviews and creating Storify. You can find these Storify below and our audio interview on our Soundcloud.

 

Storify in progressCC BY Suhrob Niyazov on Flickr

 

As one of the first alumni, I am looking forward to meeting again the OpenCon team in the next years. I’m convinced, as Patrick Brown (founder of PLOS) told us at the Opening Keynote: “Be entrepreneurial : if you believe there’s a better way don’t just complain come up with a better alternative and go for it! »

Let’s continue on this path with HackYourPhD…

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