03 October 2007

Conference round-up -the speed round

I've been remiss in writing about the series of meetings I've had over the past few weeks.

// slaps self on wrist.

So instead of going through all of my notes and posting 15 posts here in rapid succession, I'll resort to summarizing in bullet-point fashion. Hopefully this can adequately encapsulate the basic gist of each gathering.

First, Berlin 5 Open Access Conference in Padova, Italy:
- best summarized by PMR's posts in real-time (accessible, here). Wonderful to see him again and others from the open access circuit, as well as touch base with those more engaged in international discussions on access issues. Fabulous crowd.
- the event not only spurred (and somewhat ignited) a dialogue about policy (mandates, data-sharing best practices, funding, etc) but also looked at the status of OA in a smattering of countries and leading organizations - from France, Italy, and the UK to India, CERN, and Japan. Also pushed into the successes and obstacles of extending OA into the humanities and social sciences - which presents a world of issues not commonly found in dealing with scientific publishing.
- how to move a step beyond solely green access (granting the author the ability to self-archive) to gold (making the material "free" or freely available at the point of access). Not that the two cannot coexist, since they often do, but how to focus on getting publishers to make the material available free at the time of publication, whether that's paid for by a research agency or by the author.
- one of the most valuable components of this conference for me was learning about what the European Commission, the European Science Foundation, CRUI, DFG, Max Planck Society etc. were doing about OA. As well as meeting the key players from each of those organizations.
- my personal favorites, talk-wise: Alma Swan's compelling closing session, Ilaria Capua's session on Avian Bird Influenza and data, and of course, PMR's discussion on Open Data.
- there is so much more to write about this event, but I'm running out of steam. so, with that said, conference program and submitted abstracts can be found here.

Next, a joint workshop with CODATA, GBIF and Science Commons on common use licensing for scientific data products.
- this was a closed meeting, so I can't say provide an actual record of the meeting, but can say the following things.
(personal views, of course. in case you needed another disclaimer)
- data sharing is hard. It's an issue I've been engrossed in for the past few weeks, due to work-related research and discussion, paired with my own fascination with the nuances / complexities of this issue. There's certainly a drumbeat swelling for an answer to how to best make data "open". Now, I'm not a lawyer, nor a scientist, though I deal with issues regarding both regularly. Clearly, in terms of this kind of data, and data in general when speaking of taxpayer-funded research and that in the sciences, I tend to join the "more open the better" camp. The benefits of sharing data, be it of high-value or little worth to the researcher, are vast. Especially with modern day advances in how that data is queried / put into publicly integrated databases, etc etc etc. Even with that, there are serious implications for certain jurisdictions and types of data - say, indigenous knowledge or sensitive information.

You can see how this could be problematic for an absolutist, pushing for "all" data to be freely accessible. I'm still learning more about all of the implications, through SC and on my own. There are myriad things to consider ... many of which don't immediately come to mind if you're not involved in the debates.

Also attended the first organizational meeting for iGEM in Europe (another Paris meeting).

Since this post is already weeks late and far too long, I'll leave it at that. Phew, finally. :)

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