Notes: OpenConCam 2016

So back in November, our library hosted the OpenConCam event for the second time. This year’s event featured better organisation, better coverage and the attendance had doubled. The impact of it, so far, seems to be more wide-reaching as well. One fine example being the fact that we pretty much trended on Twitter from beginning to end.

I’d like to draw your attention to that last point with this excellent Storify post:

I managed to attend a couple of talks and I followed the others externally. Here’s a rough summary and my thoughts on some key issues:

Keynote: Erin McKiernan, How open science helps researchers succeed.
YouTube Stream:

Killer material this so I make no apology about getting carried away with it.

Erin offered us an affirmation that Open ECRs (Early Career Researchers) can flourish in academia. She reminded us that language is important and made a useful point that the message has to appeal to ECRs not just librarians.

Those main concerns that researchers have about Open Publishing:

a) getting published and getting cited
b) getting their data reused
c) getting credit (i.e.; avoiding scooping)
d) career advancement
e) visibility

Erin told us Open can help with these worries – check out her graphic cards! – in some cases, staying open is an advantage. Obviously, the media is more likely to publish data if it’s open!

She made a valid point that Impact Factor is a necessary evil. It says nothing about the scientific quality of the work yet universities are still using it in hiring, promotion and tenure evaluations. Bodies of work are being deleted from this process because the journal that a work is published in might not have an Impact Factor (IF)!

Perhaps we need to rethink on how we use, replace or adjust that as a style of metric. Green Access is great because it allows publishing in both institutional repository and journal but IF is still going to be an issue.

Erin also raised the concept of publishing peer review and preprints. Doing both openly allows for fast and total scientific communication – yes, absolutely we should move towards these things if only for the reason that they are something that “closed” journals aren’t able to recreate as efficiently.

And as a bonus, she also highlighted ways that a researcher wishing to publish can refuse to sign a publisher agreement handing over their author rights. There is an addendum which you can submit which allows for negotiation – in her experience publishers are willing to be flexible. Take the power back!

Talk: Simon Deakin, Open access and knowledge production: ‘leximetric’ data coding.
YouTube Stream:

Simon’s talk highlighted the issues of scooping by talking about his own experience. Happily, he seemed only mildly concerned by this because his main aim was getting the data out there. He highlighted the issues with cross-cultural communication and transparency. The importance of the latter is vital if we want to maintain democracy – an interesting but essential point well made.

All this is well and good but I can’t see other researchers being as amenable to the concept of Open as Simon. Particularly when there is this potential for material misuse. Trust is a major issue it seems.

Talk: Laura James, Mainstreaming Open.
YouTube Stream:

Laura taught us to consider the wider picture. Working in the field of humanitarian aid has taught her that delivery is so much more important than whether the product is Open or not. When she confronts funders for money, they don’t care about the process in these terms, they simply want the product. Does there need to be financial incentive with Open? Is Open a strong enough term – is recognition of its meaning immediate enough? We must be careful when forcing the term and its concept on others.

The field I care most strongly about, Open Publishing, has of course different motivational factors to consider. Peer recognition. Future financial incentive, not immediate. Funding requirement. We need to promote change in a direction that means the delivery benefits both the funder and the researcher.

Talk: Hannah Hope, Open research: What Wellcome is up to.
YouTube Stream:

Wellcome, the global research charity, is of course an advocate of Open – YAY. Their researchers are required to publish their primary research output as open access – they have up to 80% compliance to date. The theory is it accelerates discovery and offers accessibility and reproducibility. It also maximises the return on funder investment. All key plus points!

Wonderfully, they are exploring the ideas of resetting the default to Open. That’s something that we, as a University, have an existing model for and are in tune with. Hannah pointed out that 75% of researchers reuse data, so if that’s true it could be our “in” to resetting the culture. Breaking down barriers by incentivising output sharing, building data resources, promoting interoperability and protecting researcher rights are key aims to achieve this.

A nice, positive proactive message to end on then and plenty of food for thought.

Of course you want more content, right? Well, the full feed of the event is here:

Finally, it would be remiss of me not to draw your attention to the ace website here:

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