Credit: Geoscience Communication website 

The 9th of April Jon Tennant passed away. He was tragically killed in a motorbike accident in Indonesia while on a research residency at the IGDORE campus. Jon had been a tireless advocate of Open Science and friend to all in the Open Science community. At Generation Research we were honored to have him as a founding member of our advisory board.

Open Science had become Jon’s driving passion as an intellectual and as an activist which brought him to being a public figure in the Open Science movement. He had a talent for communicating the importance of access to knowledge and bringing people together to work on making the cultural change happen for Open Science. Jon had made the switch from being a paleontologist to an Open Science advocate, although it had remained a rival passion. He had completed his PhD in 2017 at Imperial College UK in the Department of Earth Science and Engineering, and had been awarded the Janet Watson Award for research excellence. 

Jon’s contribution was about making Open Science happen with a conviction that showed mettle and tenacity in the need for social justice in our current knowledge systems and to highlight its systemic inequalities. Jon advocated for the UN Sustainable Development Goals as are put forward often in responsible research and innovation and saw the value of the ‘free to publish — free to read’ Open Access policies advocated by for example AmeliCA.

“…this contradiction in the academic project into sharp relief—universalist in principle and unequal in practice. Shadow Libraries is a study of that tension in the digital era.” 

Introduction, Shadow Libraries, Joe Karaganis, Open Access, MIT 2018.

For GenR and the Open Science communities around the Leibniz Research Alliance Open Science in Germany, Berlin and Europe Jon was a constant presence and will be sorely missed. For GenR he took part in our January 2018 kickoff meeting at the TIB Library in Hannover and played an active role in helping explore our questions and contributing articles. Jon was a founder of the Open Science MOOC, which GenR worked in partnership with. Following the kickoff meeting Jon spent a week in February at TIB working as part of a  book sprint, the FOSTER Open Science Training Handbook with fourteen authors, all in residence at TIB. At many events around our community Jon would be involved, usually supporting others and encouraging collaborations, for example at: Open Science Barcamp – Berlin, with the Wikimedia Fellows, or at the Blockchain for Science Con : Berlin. Jon was also a founder of the Berlin Open Science Meetup started back in 2015, which runs monthly meetings at Top Lab and at the Charité mensa.

Credit: Talk from the Blockchain for Science Con : 2018 – Open Science | Dr Jon Tennant | Slides

The 2018 video presentation video by Jon from the Blockchain For Science Con 2018 demonstrates his position and the challenges involved in the steering scientific knowledge mode to one that is productively value driven. 

A part of Jon’s work in Open Science involved working on effecting change in the emerging Open Science infrastructures and campaigning against the vested interests who are acting against the social and development values that research can fulfill if it were open. As an example over 2017-18 Jon was actively part of a campaign to bring public oversight of the involvement of Elsevier as a contractor in the European Open Science Monitor for the European Commission tender ‘Study on Open Science: Monitoring Trends and Driver’. The objection of the campaign being that a major publisher should not be involved in the analysis of new open systems. The campaign lost its appeal for the tender to be revoked, but won for the cause of public scrutiny of this public tender and hopefully informs future European Open Science Cloud related decisions in the future.

Committing to being a public figure that is willing to take on these fights is something which can leave the person to be very exposed and vulnerable, even if such social justice challenges have the rewards of doing the right thing. Jon was part of a new generation that is more open about the effects of stress and the mental health issue it can bring. This generation allows for a refreshing culture where supporting one another, being compassionate, showing awareness of privileges and being able to talk about struggles and being friendly lead to a healthier open environment to counter the tendency of hyper competitive academia.

It was this mixture of qualities of Jon — the intellectual, the activist, but also camaraderie and friendship — which led him to inspire others and which makes the loss from our corner of the Open Science community all the harder.

Simon Worthington, Editor-in-chief, GenR


Shadow Libraries: access to knowledge in global higher education, Edited by Joe Karaganis, (Introduction), Open Access, MIT 2018. (see Open Access tab for download)

Tennant, Jon. “Open Science Is Just Science Done Right – Blockchain for Science.pptx”. figshare, November 5, 2018.


IGDORE – Institute for Globally Distributed Open Research and Education


AmeliCA –

AmeliCA, Opening Global South Knowledge for the Sustainable Development Goals  –

Open Science MOOC –

FOSTER Open Science Training Handbook 

Berlin Open Science Meetup –