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Knowledge Creation to Diffusion: The Conflict in India

Guest - February 28, 2014 in Open Access, Open Research, Open Science

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This is a guest post by Ranjit Goswami, Dean (Academics) and (Officiating) Director of Institute of Management Technology (IMT), Nagpur, India. Ranjit also volunteers as one of the Indian Country Editors for the Open Data Census.

Developing nations, more so India, increasingly face a challenge in prioritizing its goals. One thing that increasingly becomes relevant in this context, in the present age of open knowledge, is the relevance of subscription-journals in dissipation and diffusion of knowledge in a developing society. Young Aaron Swartz from Harvard had made an effort to change it, that did cost him his life; most developed nations have realized research funded by tax-payers money should be made freely available to tax-payers, but awareness on these issues are at quite pathetic levels in India – both at policy level and among members of academic community.

Before one looks at the problem, a contextual understanding is needed. Today, a lot of research is done globally, including some of it in India, and its importance in transforming nations and society is increasingly getting its due recognition across nations. Quantum of original application oriented research, applicable specifically to the developing world, is a small part of overall global research. Some of it is done locally in India too, in spite of two obvious constraints developing nations face: (1) lack of funds, and (2) lack of capability and/or capacity.

Tax-funded research should be freely available

This article argues that research outcomes, done in India with Indian tax-payers money, are to be freely available to all Indians, for better diffusion. Unfortunately, the present practice is quite opposite.

The lack of diffusion of knowledge becomes evident in absence of any planned efforts, to make the research done in local context available in open platforms. Here when one looks at the academic community in India, due to the older mindset where research score and importance is given only for publishing research papers in journals, often even in journals of questionable quality, faculty members are encouraged to publish in subscription-journals. Open access journals are considered untouchables. Faculty members mostly do not keep a version of the publication to be freely accessible – be it in their own institute’s website, or in other formats online. More than 99% of Indian higher educational institutes do not have any open-access research content in their websites.

Simultaneously, a lot of academic scams get reported, more from India, as measuring research contribution is a difficult task. Faculty members often fall prey to short-cuts of institute’s research policy, in this age of mushrooming journals.

Facing academic challenges

India, in its journey to be an to an open knowledge society, faces diverse academic challenges. Experienced faculty members feel, that making their course outlines available in the public domain would lead to others copying from it; whereas younger faculty members see subscription journal publishing as the only way to build a CV. The common ill-founded perception is that top journals would not accept your paper if you make a version of it freely available. All of above act counter-productive to knowledge diffusion in a poor country like India. The Government of India has often talked about open course materials, but in most government funded higher educational institutes, one seldom sees even a course outline in public domain, let alone research output.
Question therefore is: For public funded universities and institutes, why should any Indian user have to cough up large sums of money again to access their research output? And it is an open truth that – barring a very few universities and institutes – most Indian colleges, universities and research organizations or even practitioners cannot afford the money required to pay for subscribing most well-known journal databases, or afford individual articles therein.

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It would not be wrong to say that out of thirty-thousand plus higher educational institutes, not even one per cent has a library access comparable to institutes in developed nations. And academic research output, more in social science areas, need not be used only for academic purposes. Practitioners – farmers, practicing doctors, would-be entrepreneurs, professional managers and many others may benefit from access to this research, but unfortunately almost none of them would be ready or able to shell out $20+ for a few pages by viewing only the abstract, in a country where around 70% of people live below $2 a day income levels.

Ranking is given higher priority than societal benefit

Academic contribution in public domain through open and useful knowledge, therefore, is a neglected area in India. Although, over the last few years, we have seen OECD nations, including China, increasingly encouraging open-access publishing by academic community; in India – in its obsession with university ranks where most institutes fare poorly, we are on reverse gear. Director of one of India’s best institutes have suggested why such obsessions are ill-founded, but the perceptions to practices are quite opposite.

It is, therefore, not rare to see a researcher getting additional monetary rewards for publishing in top-category subscription journals, with no attempt whatsoever – be it from researcher, institute or policy-makers – to make a copy of that research available online, free of cost. Irony is, that additional reward money again comes from taxpayers.

Unfortunately, existing age-old policies to practices are appreciated by media and policy-makers alike, as the nation desperately wants to show to the world that the nation publishes in subscription journals. Point here is: nothing wrong with producing in journals, encourage it even more for top journals, but also make a copy freely available online to any of the billion-plus Indians who may need that paper.

Incentives to produce usable research

In case of India, more in its publicly funded academic to research institutes, we have neither been able to produce many top category subscription-journal papers, nor have we been able to make whatever research output we generate freely available online. On quality of management research, The Economist, in a recent article stated that faculty members worldwide ‘have too little incentive to produce usable research. Oceans of papers with little genuine insight are published in obscure periodicals that no manager would ever dream of reading.’ This perfectly fits in India too. It is high time we look at real impact of management and social science research, rather than the journal impact factors. Real impact is bigger when papers are openly accessible.

Developing and resource deficit nations like India, who need open access the most, thereby further lose out in present knowledge economy. It is time that Government and academic community recognize the problem, and ensure locally done research is not merely published for academic referencing, but made available for use to any other researcher or practitioner in India, free of cost.

Knowledge creation is important. Equally important is diffusion of that knowledge. In India, efforts to resources have been deployed on knowledge creation, without integrative thinking on its diffusion. In the age of Internet and open access, this needs to change.

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Prof. Ranjit Goswami is Dean (Academics) and (Officiating) Director of Institute of Management Technology (IMT), Nagpur – a leading private B-School in India. IMT also has campuses in Ghaziabad, Dubai and Hyderabad. He is on twitter @RanjiGoswami

Building an archaeological project repository I: Open Science means Open Data

Guest - February 24, 2014 in CKAN, Open Science, WG Archaeology

This is a guest post by Anthony Beck, Honorary fellow, and Dave Harrison, Research fellow, at the University of Leeds School of Computing.

In 2010 we authored a series of blog posts for the Open Knowledge Foundation subtitled ‘How open approaches can empower archaeologists’. These discussed the DART project, which is on the cusp of concluding.

The DART project collected large amounts of data, and as part of the project, we created a purpose-built data repository to catalogue this and make it available, using CKAN, the Open Knowledge Foundation’s open-source data catalogue and repository. Here we revisit the need for Open Science in the light of the DART project. In a subsequent post we’ll look at why, with so many repositories of different kinds, we felt that to do Open Science successfully we needed to roll our own.

Open data can change science

Open inquiry is at the heart of the scientific enterprise. Publication of scientific theories – and of the experimental and observational data on which they are based – permits others to identify errors, to support, reject or refine theories and to reuse data for further understanding and knowledge. Science’s powerful capacity for self-correction comes from this openness to scrutiny and challenge. (The Royal Society, Science as an open enterprise, 2012)

The Royal Society’s report Science as an open enterprise identifies how 21st century communication technologies are changing the ways in which scientists conduct, and society engages with, science. The report recognises that ‘open’ enquiry is pivotal for the success of science, both in research and in society. This goes beyond open access to publications (Open Access), to include access to data and other research outputs (Open Data), and the process by which data is turned into knowledge (Open Science).

The underlying rationale of Open Data is this: unfettered access to large amounts of ‘raw’ data enables patterns of re-use and knowledge creation that were previously impossible. The creation of a rich, openly accessible corpus of data introduces a range of data-mining and visualisation challenges, which require multi-disciplinary collaboration across domains (within and outside academia) if their potential is to be realised. An important step towards this is creating frameworks which allow data to be effectively accessed and re-used. The prize for succeeding is improved knowledge-led policy and practice that transforms communities, practitioners, science and society.

The need for such frameworks will be most acute in disciplines with large amounts of data, a range of approaches to analysing the data, and broad cross-disciplinary links – so it was inevitable that they would prove important for our project, Detection of Archaeological residues using Remote sensing Techniques (DART).

DART: data-driven archaeology

DART aimed is to develop analytical methods to differentiate archaeological sediments from non-archaeological strata, on the basis of remotely detected phenomena (e.g. resistivity, apparent dielectric permittivity, crop growth, thermal properties etc). The data collected by DART is of relevance to a broad range of different communities. Open Science was adopted with two aims:

  • to maximise the research impact by placing the project data and the processing algorithms into the public sphere;
  • to build a community of researchers and other end-users around the data so that collaboration, and by extension research value, can be enhanced.

‘Contrast dynamics’, the type of data provided by DART, is critical for policy makers and curatorial managers to assess both the state and the rate of change in heritage landscapes, and helps to address European Landscape Convention (ELC) commitments. Making the best use of the data, however, depends on openly accessible dynamic monitoring, along the lines of that developed for the Global Monitoring for Environment and Security (GMES) satellite constellations under development by the European Space Agency. What is required is an accessible framework which allows all this data to be integrated, processed and modelled in a timely manner.

It is critical that policy makers and curatorial managers are able to assess both the state and the rate of change in heritage landscapes. This need is wrapped up in national commitments to the European Landscape Convention (ELC). Making the best use of the data, however, depends on openly accessible dynamic monitoring, along similar lines to that proposed by the European Space Agency for the Global Monitoring for Environment and Security (GMES) satellite constellations. What is required is an accessible framework which allows all this data to be integrated, processed and modelled in a timely manner. The approaches developed in DART to improve the understanding and enhance the modelling of heritage contrast detection dynamics feeds directly into this long-term agenda.

Cross-disciplinary research and Open Science

Such approaches cannot be undertaken within a single domain of expertise. This vision can only be built by openly collaborating with other scientists and building on shared data, tools and techniques. Important developments will come from the GMES community, particularly from precision agriculture, soil science, and well documented data processing frameworks and services. At the same time, the information collected by projects like DART can be re-used easily by others. For example, DART data has been exploited by the Royal Agricultural University (RAU) for use in such applications as carbon sequestration in hedges, soil management, soil compaction and community mapping. Such openness also promotes collaboration: DART partners have been involved in a number of international grant proposals and have developed a longer term partnership with the RAU.

Open Science advocates opening access to data, and other scientific objects, at a much earlier stage in the research life-cycle than traditional approaches. Open Scientists argue that research synergy and serendipity occur through openly collaborating with other researchers (more eyes/minds looking at the problem). Of great importance is the fact that the scientific process itself is transparent and can be peer reviewed: as a result of exposing data and the processes by which these data are transformed into information, other researchers can replicate and validate the techniques. As a consequence, we believe that collaboration is enhanced and the boundaries between public, professional and amateur are blurred.

Challenges ahead for Open Science

Whilst DART has not achieved all its aims, it has made significant progress and has identified some barriers in achieving such open approaches. Key to this is the articulation of issues surrounding data-access (accreditation), licensing and ethics. Who gets access to data, when, and under what conditions, is a serious ethical issue for the heritage sector. These are obviously issues that need co-ordination through organisations like Research Councils UK with cross-cutting input from domain groups. The Arts and Humanities community produce data and outputs with pervasive social and ethical impact, and it is clearly important that they have a voice in these debates.

Open Knowledge Foundation at Mozilla Festival – meet us!

Beatrice Martini - October 24, 2013 in Events, Join us, Meetups, OKFestival, Open Science, School of Data, Workshop

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At the Open Knowledge Foundation we love festivals – and attending is just half of the fun, we really like making things happen. So as soon as our friends over at Mozilla started building up their fabulous Mozilla Festival we decided to roll up our sleeves and join the party!

Mozilla Festival will take place in London (UK) on October 25th-27th. A big group from our team (who? Read on to know more about it) will head over and spread all around town for the duration. Our calendar:

Who of the Open Knowledge Foundation staff members will be at Mozilla Festival and can’t wait to meet you (ping them on Twitter to find them – links below)?

  • Beatrice Martini (Events Coordinator) joining the Mozilla Team as enthusiast friend volunteer, supporting the work of Mozilla Festival’s Events Coordinator (the wonderful Michelle Thorne) and warming up for OKFestival 2014 next July (do join us – sign up on the website for news!)
  • Zara Rahman, Christian Villum, Katelyn Rogers (Community Managers for Local Groups, Working Groups and Open Government Data – not in that order) running the Building collaboration across the open space workshop
  • Michelle Brook (Open Education Community Coordinator) coordinating the Open Science on the Web workshop
  • Michael Bauer, Milena Marin (School of Data) and Heather Leson (Community Engagement Director) rocking the Data Expedition Bootcamp
  • Sander van der Waal (Head of Long Term Projects Unit), James Hamilton (Development Director), Marieke Guy (LinkedUp Project Community Coordinator) meeting, supporting, linking up

Dear festival-goers, see you there – and at our very own upcoming festival, OKFestival 2014!

Crowdcrafting: Putting Citizens in Control of Citizen Science

Open Knowledge Foundation - September 17, 2013 in Open Science, PyBossa

Press Release: Geneva, 17 September 2013

Speaking at the Open Knowledge Conference, the world’s leading event on open data, Co-director of the Open Knowledge Foundation, Rufus Pollock, announced today that the open-source platform Crowdcrafting has grown to accommodate over 120 projects, making it the world’s most diverse open-source platform for online citizen science and crowdsourced data analysis.

Crowdcrafting is a collaboration between the Citizen Cyberscience Centre and the Open Knowledge Foundation, launched six months ago. Since its launch, a number of important projects have been built and developed using the tool.

The project ForestWatchers, for example, enables citizen-based monitoring of the deforestation in developing regions. Built on Crowdcrafting’s open source technology, it has received the support of the Open Society Foundations for a second phase in which local knowledge from citizens in the field can be integrated with the maps produced by online participants.

crowdcrafting antimatter

Another project, Rural GeoLocator comes from the Public Health Computing group at the Swiss Tropical and Public Health Institute in Basel. The goal of this application is to help the SolarMal project, which studies the potential of innovative mosquito trapping technologies for malaria control. The geo-locations of the houses will be used to inform the project logistics and analysis of the SolarMal project.

Other projects that run on Crowdcrafting include “Does Antimatter fall up or down?” an application exploring the effect of gravity on antimatter.; Air quality with lichens to analyse and classify lichens as indicators of air pollution levels; and the Shell JIV transcription project which aims to transcribe the locations of oil spills in the Niger Delta from documents provided by Shell. Recognizing the broad power and potential of this platform, the Shuttleworth Foundation this month awarded one of its prestigious fellowships to the lead developer of Crowdcrafting, Daniel Lombraña González of the Citizen Cyberscience Centre.

Recent new developments have extended the scope of Crowdcrafting to include the collection of sensory information via mobile phones. Seamless integration with the Open Knowledge Foundation’s flagship CKAN database for open data means the tool will form an important part of the future of open science.

John Ellis, keynote speaker at Open Knowledge Conference, and world-renowned theoretical physicist at CERN and King’s College London commented:

“I was amazed how students at the CERN Webfest in August could turn CERN data on antimatter into a new citizen science project within just a weekend. This shows the power of the Crowdcrafting platform.”

Also speaking at Open Knowledge Conference, Francesco Pisano, director of research for the UN Institute for Training and Research, one of the founding partners of the Citizen Cyberscience Centre, remarked:

“Crowdcrafting is more than just a tool for basic science. Our UNOSAT programme is adapting the technology to efficiently combine the strength of volunteer computing with the work the UN and many NGOs have to do in generating information and assessments after natural disasters and other humanitarian crises.”

Denis Hochstrasser, vice-rector for research at the University of Geneva, which is hosting the Open Knowledge Conference satellite event on Open and Citizen Science, added:

“I’m proud that the Crowdcrafting platform is based here at University of Geneva. And I’m personally convinced that this grass-roots approach to citizen science will have a large impact on biomedical research, a core competence of our University. This is an area where increasingly, communities of patients are pro-actively collecting and analyzing their own medical data.”

ENDS


Crowdcrafting will feature in a special satellite event on Open and Citizen Science at this week’s Open Knowledge Conference in Geneva, where Daniel Lombraña González will be helping prospective new users set up their projects.

New Panton Fellows Announced!

Michelle Brook - September 16, 2013 in Featured, Open Science, Panton Fellows, WG Open Data in Science

We’ve just finished the second round of appointments for the Panton Fellowships, and this year we have three Fellows joining us: Rosie Graves (UK), Peter Kraker (Austria), and Sam Moore (UK). Peter will be joining us at OKCon this year, so please come and find him and introduce yourself!

Panton fellows 2013 Left to right: Sam Moore, Peter Kraker and Rosie Graves

We had some really excellent applications this year, so we’d like to say a massive thank you to everyone who helped us spread the word.

The Panton Fellowships are year-long awards with a small stipend and additional travel budget. They are typically awarded to early career researchers (although those with other backgrounds are very welcome to apply), who submit proposals that we think will be really beneficial to promote open science, open data in science, and the Panton Principles.

We’ve expanded from last year’s two Fellows, who were both based in the UK, so we are really excited to see what they manage to do! We’re aware that this year’s Fellows are going to have a tough job living up to the amazing work carried out by our inaugural Fellows, Ross Mounce and Sophie Kershaw, however this lot certainly have the potential to do so!

Each of the Fellows will be writing a short introductory post about themselves, their thoughts and plans for the year. We also hope they will be posting semi regular updates about their activities, so sign up to the open science working group mailing list to be kept up to date!

Publishing research without data is simply advertising, not science

Guest - September 3, 2013 in Open Science

The following post is by Graham Steel. It is an adaptation of a five minute lightning talk given at Glasgow’s 1st Open Knowledge Foundation meet-up.

Commencing in 2001, I became involved in the Charitable Sector as Vice-Chair of a support group for families affected by a rare and invariably fatal neurodegenerative disease. This led to reading scientific papers for the first time. We were sent paper copies of Manuscripts published by the main two research camps in the UK who were involved in this field.

In the following year or so, I was alerted to PubMed which opened my eyes to a world of relevant literature, albeit, mainly only at the Abstract level. I drafted a template email to send to corresponding authors begging for PDF’s of full articles as it is pretty impossible to fully digest scientific papers just from the Abstract. 90% of requests were successful over the years.

Science-paywall1

My library of research papers is fairly extensive (this is just the OA subset) and on not one occasion have I paid to obtain literature of interest. An interesting quote from Jack Andraka in this regard:-

“This was the [paywall to the] article I smuggled into class the day my teacher was explaining antibodies and how they worked. I was not able to access very many more articles directly. I was 14 and didn’t drive and it seemed impossible to go to a University and request access to journals.

“I soon learned that many of the papers I was interested in reading were hidden behind expensive paywalls. I convinced my mom to use her credit card for a few but was discouraged when some of them turned out to be expensive but not useful to me. She became much less willing to pay when she found some in the recycle bin!” – SOURCE

In mid 2006, I stumbled upon something dearly refreshing. Open Access (OA), a dream come true for a Patient Advocate. As I continued to delve into the world of ‘open’, in 2007, I learned about Open NoteBook Science (ONS) and made contact (and subsequently met in person) with the leaders in this field.

Having already become involved in the Open Knowledge Foundation (OKFN) that year, I later found about the Panton Principles in 2010. Great to see this development:-

“Science is based on building on, reusing and openly criticising the published body of scientific knowledge.

For science to effectively function, and for society to reap the full benefits from scientific endeavours, it is crucial that science data be made open”.

In terms of Open Data Repositories, there is an extensive list which can be accessed here on the Open Access Directory (OAD). Go check it out.

The one that I am most familiar with is figshare where I blog about Open Science. So my journey into science looks like this:-

  • started with paper copies of some papers
  • limited access to Toll Access papers
  • full access to required Toll Access papers
  • discovering OA
  • making contact with the OKFN
  • finding out about ONS
  • Open Data
  • Open Science

The title of this post went a stage further in May this year in the form of a post by Claire Bower, Digital Comms. Manager, BMJ Group:-

“Publishing articles without making the data available is scientific malpractice”

To quote from the final paragraph:-

“As more funders and learned societies call for new ways to make research data more available, reusable and reproducible, it will be interesting to see how established and emerging platforms will work with researchers and publishers to make access to data as pain-free as possible”.

Conclusion

“Give a scientist data/tools, and you feed the science world for a day. Teach them openness, and you feed the science world for a lifetime”Jonathan Eisen, 2011


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Graham Steel has been involved in Patient Advocacy since 2001 and is a strong advocate and vocal supporter of Open Access, Open Data and Free Culture (interview).

Cover image: Tonsil biopsy in variant CJD, by Sbrandner, CC-BY-SA

OKCon 2013 Guest Post: Is Open Source Drug Discovery Practical?

Guest - August 30, 2013 in Events, Join us, OKCon, Open Knowledge Foundation, Open Science

The following guest post is by Matthew Todd, Senior Lecturer at the School of Chemistry, The University of Sydney and Sydney Ambassador of the Open Knowledge Foundation. As part of OKCon 2013 Matthew will host a satellite event entitled ‘Is Open Source Drug Discovery Practical?’, taking place on on Thursday 19 September from 09:00 – 12:00 at the World Health Organization (WHO) – UNAIDS HQ. (Find instructions about how to get there below, and register to attend the event here).


IsOpenSourceDrugDiscoveryPracticalIf we value collaboration as a way of speeding scientific progress, we should all embrace open science since it promises to supercharge the collaboration process, both by making data available to anyone but also by allowing anyone to work on a problem. Open science can obviously promise this because of its essential and defining condition: openness. We, as humans, default to this way of interacting with each other, but such norms can be overridden where there is some advantage in keeping secrets. A possible advantage might be financial, meaning there may be an incentive to work in a closed way if something one has done can be capitalized on for financial reward, leading to the idea of “intellectual property” and its protection through patents.

So we appear to have two opposing forms of enquiry. One that is open (without patents) and one that is closed. Clearly there are examples of great things arising from both.

One of the areas of science that has been of late dominated by the private sector is the pharmaceutical industry. Many effective medicines have been developed using the current model, but is it the only way? Might drug discovery that aligns with open source principles be possible?

My lab has been involved in trying to answer this question, both in developing ways to improve how we make medicines and how we discover new ones. The latter project, Open Source Malaria, directly challenges the idea that something new and of potential value to health should be sequestered away from public involvement. The OSM project abandons the protection of intellectual property so we may take advantage of the greatest number of people working on the problem in a barrierless, meritocratic collaboration.

There are historical arguments that patents are not necessary to drug discovery. Therapeutics of great value have been developed without patents, such as penicillin and the polio vaccine. The ability to patent molecular structures (rather than the methods used to make them) is a relatively recent invention. Patents have been accused of allowing companies to innovate less frequently.

But is an open approach really possible for the development of a new drug? Who would pay for the clinical trials? Who would invest money in the medicine if there is no monopoly on selling it downstream? Is there a realistic economic model that can take a promising new therapeutic and turn it into a medicine for treating millions of people? If open drug discovery is possible for diseases such as malaria, where there is little prospect of a profit, can the same model be applied to a disease like cancer, or Alzheimer’s, where the predicted profit would be very high under the current model?

These questions will all be addressed at a session I am hosting at the Open Knowledge Conference. This satellite event, taking place on the Thursday, is entitled “Is Open Source Drug Discovery Practical?“. I am very excited to have assembled a highly knowledgeable panel to discuss these issues, and in some ways it is lucky that OKCon is taking place in Geneva, where so many of the people most relevant to the current method of finding new medicines are located. The speakers are from the World Health Organisation, the Medicines for Malaria Venture, the Drugs for Neglected Diseases Initiative, GlaxoSmithKline, the World Intellectual Property Organisation and the Structural Genomics Consortium. If anyone is able to answer the session’s main question, these speakers can.

These panel members will have 10 minutes to speak about their organization’s efforts related to a more open approach to drug discovery. We will then have some coffee, and then turn to addressing some of the key questions above. There will be ample chance for members of the audience to take an active role in the discussion. If you are interested in the quandary of how we are going to find the drugs that we most need for the coming generations, and how we might be able to use open data and open research to do that, then this session is for you. The subject is so interesting because the discovery of effective new medicines is very hard: we assume, then, that the best way to do the research is using a massively distributed collaboration with lots of open data, yet that model is a real challenge today because of the structures we have put in place to support the industry.

Please join us! The session will take place at WHO’s main headquarters from 09:00 till 12:00. So we ensure we don’t overflow the room, please register to attend here, where you will also find more detail of the specific items for discussion and the panel members.

Location: Initially sign in at the WHO main building then go across to the WHO-UNAIDS building, meeting room D46031 (take lift 33/34 to go to the 4th floor).

Instructions on getting to WHO by public transport

[Picture credit]

Network Summit

Naomi Lillie - July 19, 2013 in Network, Open GLAM, Open Government Data, Open Humanities, Open Knowledge Foundation, Open Knowledge Foundation Local Groups, Open Science, Our Work, Talks, Working Groups

Twice-yearly the whole community of the Open Knowledge Foundation gathers together to share with, learn from and support one another. The Summer Summit 2013 took place in Cambridge (UK) last week (10th-14th July), with staff updates on the Thursday and network representatives joining on the Friday, Saturday and Sunday.

It was so inspiring to hear what our network has been doing to further the Open movement recently and over the last 6 months!

We heard from Local Groups about how these groups have been effecting change in all our locations around the world:

  • Alberto for OKFN Spain has been promoting open transparency in budgets, including their own, and using the power of events to gather people;
  • OKFN Taiwan, represented by TH (who we believe travelled the furthest to be with us in person), has also been investing in many large events, including one event for developers and others attracting 2,000 people! They have also been supporting local and central governments on open data regulation;
  • Charalampos of OKFN Greece highlighted the recent support of their works by Neelie Kroes, and took us through crashmap.okfn.gr which maps accidents using data from police departments and census data along with crowd-sourced data;
  • Pierre at OKF France reported that they have been helping redesign the national open data portal, as well as developing an open data portal for children and young people which kids which may align well with School of Data;
  • OpenData.ch, the Swiss Chapter of the Open Knowledge Foundation of course is hosting OKCon in September, and Hannes updated on exciting developments here. He also reported on work to lobby and support government by developing visualisations of budget proposals, developing a federal-level open data strategy and policy, and promoting a national open data portal. Thanks to their efforts, a new law was accepted on open weather data, with geodata next up;
  • David updated on OKFN Australia where there is support from government to further the strong mandate for open scientific data. The newspaper the Age has been a firm ally, making data available for expenses and submissions to political parties, and a project to map Melbourne bicycle routes was very successful;
  • Francesca of OKF Italy has been working alongside Open Streetmap and Wikimedia Italy, as well as with parliament on the Open Transport manifesto. They have also been opening up ecological data, from “spaghetti open data”;
  • OKFN Netherlands was represented by Kersti, who reported a shared sense of strength in open government data and open development, as well as in the movement Open for Change (where OKCon is listed as the top ‘Open Development Event’!);
  • Dennis, for OKF Ireland, has been pushing the local events and gathering high-profile ‘rock stars’ of the open data world as well as senior government representatives. He has also presented on open data in parliament;
  • OKF Scotland is a growing grassroots community, as conveyed by Ewan – an Open Data Day asserted the importance of connecting to established grassroots communities who are already doing interesting things with data. They are also working closely with government to release data and organised local hackdays with children and young people;
  • Bill joined us remotely to update on OKF Hong Kong, where regular meet-ups and hackdays are providing a great platform for people to gather around open knowledge. Although not able to join us in person (like Everton / Tom from OKF Brasil) Bill was keen to report that OKF Hong Kong will be represented at OKCon!
  • OKF Austria‘s update was given by Walter, who informed us that transport data is now properly openly licensed and that several local instances of the international Working Groups have been set up. Which segues nicely, as…

It wasn’t just during the planned sessions where community-building and networking occurred: despite the scorching 30°C (86°F) heat – somewhat warmer than the Winter Summit in January! – people made the most of lunchtimes and breaks to share ideas and plan.

We also heard from Working Groups about how crossing international boundaries is making a difference to Open for all of us:

  • Open Sustainability was represented by Jack who explained Cleanweb (an initiative to use clean technologies for good, engaging with ESPA to open up data) and has set up @opensusty on Twitter as a communication route for anyone wanting to connect;
  • Ben, newly involved with Open Development, explained about the group’s plans to make IATI‘s released data useful, and bringing together existing initiatives to create a data revolution;
  • Open Science, represented by Ross, has been very active with lobbying and events, with the mailing list constantly buzzing with discussions on open data, licensing and convincing others;
  • Daniel explained that Open Government Data, being one of the largest groups with 924 mailing list members, has provided an important role as being at the heart of the Open Government Data movement, as a place for people to go to for questions and – hopefully! – answers. Daniel will be stepping down, so get in touch if you would like to help lead this group; in the meantime, the Steering Committee will be helping support the group;
  • OpenGLAM has also developed an Advisory Board, said Joris. There is good global reach for Open GLAM advocacy, and people are meeting every month. Documents, case studies, slide-decks and debates are available to new joiners to get started, and the Austrian instance of the Working Group demonstrated the process works. (Joris has now sadly left Open Knowledge Foundation ‘Central’, but we are delighted he will stay on as volunteer Coordinator for this group!);
  • Public Domain, with Primavera reporting, has been working on Public Domain Calculators in partnership with the government. PD Remix launched in France in May, and Culture de l’Europe will present at OKCon;
  • Primavera also updated on Open Design, where future planning has taken priority. The Open Design Definition has been a highlight but funding would help further activity and there are plans to seek this proactively. Chuff, the Open Knowledge Foundation Mascot, was pleased to get a mention…

It should be noted that these activities and updates are brief highlights only – distilling the activities of our groups into one or two sentences each is very much unrepresentative of the amount of things we could talk about here!

We also made time for socialising at the Summit, and much fun was had with Scrabble, playing frisbee and punting – not to mention celebrating Nigel‘s birthday!




As an aside, I was going to state that “we only need an Antarctic representative and the Open Knowledge Foundation will have all seven continents in our network”; however, it appears there is no definitive number of continents or agreed land-masses! An amalgamated list is Africa (Africa/Middle East and North Africa), America (Central/North/South), Antarctica, Australia (Australia/Oceania) and Eurasia (Europe/Asia)… but, however you wish to define the global divisions (and isn’t it pleasing that it’s difficult to do so?), Antarctica is the only area the Open Knowledge Foundation is not represented! Are you reading this from an outstation at the South Pole, or know someone there, and want to contribute to open knowledge? Apply to become an Ambassador and be the person to cement the Open Knowledge Foundation as the fully global demonstration of the Open movement.

If you’re in an unrepresented area – geographic or topic – we’d love to hear from you, and if you’re in a represented area we’d love to put you in touch with others. Get Involved and connect with the Open Knowledge Foundation Network – and maybe we’ll see you at the next Summit!

Images 1, 4-7 and front page: Velichka Dimitrova. Images 2 and 3: Marieke Guy, CC-BY-NC-ND

Rigour and Openness in 21st Century Science

Jenny Molloy - June 25, 2013 in Open Science, WG Open Data in Science

Here’s a few great videos from a recent conference attended by members of our Open Science Working Group, about Rigour and Openness in 21st Century Science.

Science is great, open it (open science)

A team of researchers at the University of Oxford and University of Koblenz recently joined forces to organise an event on ‘Rigour and Openness in 21st Century Science‘ examining whether and how recent developments in open science can lead to increased reproducibility and rigour in scientific research.

While the key themes of open access and data were addressed, other sessions touched on the question of how to ensure data collected and analysed by citizens is validated, the role of openness in innovation and pre-competitive commercial environments and new technical services that are being built to facilitate sharing, analysis and further application of research outputs.

Over 90 people registered to attend the sessions, which were flanked by an opening address from Sir Mark Walport, Chief Scientific Advisor and a closing address from David Willetts MP, UK Government Minister for Science and Universities. These provided an interesting and positive insight into how the UK Government is thinking about issues around open science.

In addition, six eminent speakers debated the issue of the future of scholarly publishing in a public event held in the Oxford Union debating chamber – will we see progress by evolution or revolution of the current system?

Here are some great videos, and further sessions can be found on youtube and the University of Oxford podcasts site.



Sir Mark Walport – Opening Address



David Willetts MP – Opening Address



Evolution or Revolution? The Debate at Oxford’s conference Rigour and Openness in 21st Century Science



Chas Bountra on open innovation



Helen Roy on citizen science

G8 Science Ministers Support Open Data in Science

Jonathan Gray - June 14, 2013 in Open Science, WG Open Data in Science

As you may have seen, open data and transparency is set to be a major topic of discussion at the G8 Summit in Northern Ireland next week.

We were pleased to see a joint statement from the G8 science ministers released yesterday – expressing a strong commitment to open data in science. The third section of the statement says:

Open Scientific Research Data

Open enquiry is at the heart of scientific endeavour, and rapid technological change has profound implications for the way that science is both conducted and its results communicated. It can provide society with the necessary information to solve global challenges. We are committed to openness in scientific research data to speed up the progress of scientific discovery, create innovation, ensure that the results of scientific research are as widely available as practical, enable transparency in science and engage the public in the scientific process. We have decided to support the set of principles for open scientific research data outlined below as a basis for further discussions.

i. To the greatest extent and with the fewest constraints possible publicly funded scientific research data should be open, while at the same time respecting concerns in relation to privacy, safety, security and commercial interests, whilst acknowledging the legitimate concerns of private partners.

ii. Open scientific research data should be easily discoverable, accessible, assessable, intelligible, useable, and wherever possible interoperable to specific quality standards.

iii. To maximise the value that can be realised from data, the mechanisms for delivering open scientific research data should be efficient and cost effective, and consistent with the potential benefits.

iv. To ensure successful adoption by scientific communities, open scientific research data principles will need to be underpinned by an appropriate policy environment, including recognition of researchers fulfilling these principles, and appropriate digital infrastructure.

We decide to build on the existing work to coordinate and enable international data collaboration.

It is encouraging to see such high level support for open access to scientific research and for open data in science. We hope that in the coming months this high level support translates into policies that mandate compliance with principles such as the Budapest Open Access Initiative 10 Year Recommendations and our own Panton Principles for Open Data in Science.

If you’d like to join discussion about open data in science you can sign up to our open-science mailing list:


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