Image: Ralf Rebmann // license: CC-BY-SA 4.0 https://www.open-science-conference.eu/barcamp/
It’s no longer the case in Open Science that you are alone and having to work out questions for the first time. What the two events showed is that there are open models being put in place that others can adopt, such as developing OER and MOOC content in a research field, or embedding social consideration in research with the RRI framework from the FIT4RRI project. Having full open research life-cycles is still to be achieved, but we are no longer working in the dark. A report from the two events which took place in March in Berlin on the last days before lockdown.
Open Science Barcamp
The Open Science Barcamp took place on the 10th March 2020 the day before the Open Science Conference and serves as an open community event taking place at the Wikimedia Germany, Berlin offices. The barcamp is a chance for the international conference visitors to meet the local Open Science community.
The barcamp is an intense day of back-to-back group discussions. Starting off with pitching sessions for the discussion slots for the morning, and then again after lunch, which adds spontaneity. The discussion slots are strictly kept to 45 minutes and tend to take unexpected turns as people are introduced to new topics, or probing questions spark new ideas. The sessions are tailed by the Open Science Radio crew constantly interviewing participants between sessions. The barcamp is grounded with a sense of camaraderie of making Open Science happen, with encouragement and respect of people’s views and questions. And last but not least fueled with the gratis Club-Mate and an open space for people to relax, or catch-up on a conversation.
Below is a sample from the many sessions that went on over the day. The full list of sessions can be found here on the Open Science Barcamp Meta Etherpad.
Open Science as a political stance
Open Science Radio: OSR184 Open Science as a Political Stance #oscibar [EN]
The session was put forward by Christina Riesenweber, Freie Universität Berlin, @c_riesen
The starting question put forward by Christina Riesenweber acting as facilitators was to express the frustration at having to be apolitical as a scholar or scientist, when as an individual you have a political position or concern you want to voice in the context of Open Science.
Since many parts of Open Science relate to societal impacts of research, to democratic functions of the general population having access to knowledge, then the expectation of being neutral becomes frustrating.
This situation of being silenced is compounded by the attacks on science and anti-science propaganda such as by conspiracy theories like ‘Contrail’ (Allgaier 2019) which are specifically used against climate science in the media on YouTube and as fake research papers that appear or Google Scholar.
As is noted in the discussion protocol the question of being political as a researcher was not something people were used to and it showed that it was a challenge—to agree on terms, to see what being political could look like—and just being comfortable having such a conversation.
A number of positions emerged to the question of being political in Open Science. For example an organiser from ‘March for Science’ took the position of not wanting to call out political wings of left or right—but instead to simply stand up for the values of science and the scientific method so as not to alienate parts of society. Another position was that the threat to science and scholarship came from ‘far-right’ political ideologies and groups, and that these should be confronted, opposed, and addressed directly. A third position or strategy was to look at frameworks of decision making processes where values could be embedded, such as: codes of conduct, in Responsible Research and Innovation (RRI), or such things as the UN Sustainable Development Goals. In these frameworks politics of representation, power, and equality can be articulated.
Besides the positions or strategies described some examples were mentioned where what would have once been politically contentious is now unexceptional and commonplace, such as the German Federal Ministry for Education and Research (BMBF) advertising campaign for Open Access.
OER to MOOC
This session was motivated by the recent experiences of the Open Science MOOC (OS-MOOC) which involved the MOOC learning platform it used, called Eliademy, going into bankruptcy and suddenly closing. OS-MOOC had its content stored on GitHub but the student accounts we lost as well as test scores.
Since OS-MOOC has to find a new platform for running courses it has also been a time to evaluate how volunteer communities such as OS-MOOC can organise themselves, create sustainability, and grow.
Technical challenges arise of having OER content independent of a MOOC platform, but it is needed, not only because of the risk of failure of a platform, but also to enable for content to be reused. One option that was mentioned was using Markdown so that content can be outputted as a textbook for example in R Bookdown and also be used in Moodle on a platform like the MOOC service Oncampus.
Of equal, if not greater importance is the question of how to sustain a voluntary community was discussed and a number of examples talked over. The examples were: ‘Sharing is daring: Open Science approaches to Digital Humanities’ from the Vienna, Summer Semester 2020; ‘Programming Historian’ for crowdsourcing; as RDM resources ‘DARIAH Pathfinder to Data Management Best Practices in the Humanities’; ‘The Turing Way’ as a community publication, and; ‘The Carpentries’ with its train-the-trainer model of membership and rewards. From among these examples there was no clear way through the conundrum of community sustainability, with even the Carpentries with the most coherent membership model still finding it hard to achieve sustainability.
It can only be hoped that infrastructural support being made by funders such as BMBF and its OER programmes can provide support like technical interoperability and knowhow—so that communities who are enthusiastic to create volunteer MOOCs can spend their energies on sustainability models and course innovations.
Climate Change: Common Pool for Public Policy / Open Climate Knowledge
Open Science Radio: OSR181 Open Climate Change #oscibar [EN]
Moderators: Simon Worthington @mrchristian99 & Robbie Morrison.
The session was orientated around Climate Change and included presentations from two projects: Opensay and Open Climate Knowledge (OCK). Opensay is an initiative to bring the public into policy decisions that climate change is inevitably forcing and which need buy-in by the public as they involve tough decisions. OCK is a project demanding that all climate science research be made 100% open and uses data-mining to advocate for advanced ‘open science publishing’ technologies to be introduced to improve and speedup publishing.
A number of climate initiatives are looking at ‘rapid decarbonization’ plans and the European Commission has the Green New Deal policies. But none of these plans put forward by any groups have been stress-tested against scientific modelling to reasonably prove that the stated carbon reductions can be met to stay anywhere near or under the predicted 1.5% IPCC temperature rise. Opensay has come from the energy modelling research community, but is concerned with questions beyond the scope of this field, which are questions about social effects of decarbonization and civil society choices that need to be made. The outrage shown by the youth with the Climate Strikes and the responses by initiatives like Scientists4Futures and institutions like Museum für Naturkunde Berlin with their Experiment Field are signs of what is to come.
OCK is a mixture of publishing technology research and campaigning. Seeing that climate science research is at <30% OA for papers the project is looking at how to make the transition to 100% in years and not decades, as currently it has taken two decades to achieve the current 30% OA rates. OCK has a working group and data mining programme running at FORCE11.
With both projects the questions are about how do we accelerate greater openness, put research at the service of society—and transforming who academia is serving. There are pointers and germs of what is needed, like citizen science as a discipline—but the climate questions need a transformation as opposed to slow incremental addition.
Open Science Conference
Driving institutional change
Helene Brinken. Presentation and poster: ‘Driving institutional change for open, responsible research and innovation’.
Helene Brinken @helenebrinken represented the FIT4RRI research project with a presentation ‘Driving institutional change for open, responsible research and innovation’ and in the poster session. The project is about Responsible Research & Innovation (RRI) and Open Science practices and is now at the end of its three year funding cycle. The RRI framework put in place by the project is aimed at institutions looking to adopt these processes and has supported that goal with a number of resources: online courses and a series of analytic materials—the RRI Toolkit—that can be made use of by an institution looking to change its decision making processes and governance to embrace Open Science.
The RRI field adds an interesting procedural dimension to Open Science as is concerned with the context of decision making and how a framework for evaluating questions being raised can be put in place. For example ethics, social justice, public consultation, and governance and how these can be actioned in an institution are at its core—as opposed to starting with questions of defining openness for example in something like the FAIR principles. A good example in the FIT4RRI materials is gender equality guidance, which shows how these questions can be brought into all stages of the research process. This guidance is thoroughly linked to literature sources, which in part shows some of the origins of the FIT4RRI research project which is in a literature survey.
The materials are structured around different audiences and then around a variety of subjects. The audiences are: policy makers, research community, education community, business and civil society. With the topics being: ethics, gender and equality, governance, open access, public engagement, and open science. I am listing out these subject headers as the project is spread out across several websites with the result that some material might be buried. Then each of these sections lists out guidance and leads onto training materials. Further training material is then on the Foster Open Science site.
RRI toolkit: How-tos – https://www.rri-tools.eu/how-tos
RRI courses on Foster Open Science – https://www.fosteropenscience.eu/node/2750
What does change look like?
Julia Stewart Lowndes @juliesquid. Presentation: ‘Supercharging research with Open Data science and teamwork’.
Changing scientific practice to Open Science ways of working is becoming a science in its own right. When incentives and conventions are still pointing in the direction of the scientific status quo of not improving quality and efficiency, and ignoring the Open Science community. How do you make change, what does change look like?
Julia Stewart Lowndes, the founder of Openscapes, gave a live video presentation at the main conference, on the morning of the first day.
The Openscapes initiative is one such example of ‘how you make change’ with a step-by-step programme for researcher mentoring in Open Science. Openscapes is built around open data science, focused on establishing open mindsets and resilient, and collaborative data practices—with the researchers in the programme working in environmental sciences. It is based at the National Center for Ecological Analysis and Synthesis (NCEAS), Santa Barbara, California and works in the context of research projects for example in the Global Ocean Health Index.
The Openscapes ‘Champions Program’ was first put together over 2019 and is a mentoring scheme aimed at digital skilling researchers and creating a community of support. The scheme helps researchers work more efficiently and strongly emphasizes this point with an end of 2019 column published in Nature ‘Supercharge your research: a ten-week plan for open data science’ (Lowndes et al. 2019). Openscapes is designed with remote working with about thirty-five researchers over five months. There are a set of remote group video calls, one-on-one video mentoring calls, and an end summit. The model is informed by leadership and community building incubated by Mozilla and their leadership programmes and by the trend group skilling led by The Carpentries—both of which are about capacity building through recognising that community succeeds through care and support of individuals and an intrinsically human level of being compassionate and supportive.
The work of Openscapes is online and there for others to make use of on the Champions Program page.
Joachim Allgaier, ‘YouTube — Fix Your AI for Climate Change! An Invitation to an Open Dialogue’, Generation Research (blog), 11 November 2019, https://doi.org/10.25815/xc8d-hg97.
Lowndes, Julia S. Stewart, Halley E. Froehlich, Allison Horst, Nishad Jayasundara, Malin L. Pinsky, Adrian C. Stier, Nina O. Therkildsen, and Chelsea L. Wood. ‘Supercharge Your Research: A Ten-Week Plan for Open Data Science’. Nature, 31 October 2019, d41586-019-03335–4. https://doi.org/10/ggcfs3.
Declaration of interests
Simon Worthington, GenR Editor is a FORCE11 Working Group co-leader on the Open Climate Knowledge.