Image: OSC Starter Kit CC BY

The Open Science Barcamp was hosted by the ‘Communities in New Media’ (GeNeMe) conference organised by the TU Dresden Media Centre on the 7th of October. The move to online only for the barcamp managed to keep the ‘in-the-moment’ spontaneity that makes a barcamp special – showing off group ingenuity and creating a welcoming environment attracting participants from around the world. The format also worked in terms of turning questions and abstract notions into concrete steps that participants could take away.

The theme put forward for the barcamp was bold and much needed ‘Open Science – From the crisis of science to science for times of crisis?’ and the quote from the end of the event call helped focus that question.

‘…we want to explore with you the opportunities for Open Science in overcoming global crises and discuss together how the Open Science movement should position itself in relation to current crisis experiences.’

Open Science as a movement is both technical and social. On the one hand it is about digitisation and its affordances and rolling out open systems and protocols such as Invest in Open, and on the other hand about the social – either countering the internal pressures of academia to game the system such as the campaign Bullied into Bad Science or looking to set UN Sustainable Development Goals at the heart of science with initiatives like 2030 Connect.  

‘Open Science should work to distribute power more equally and democratize knowledge-making’

(Spates 2012; Pownall, et al. 2020 – Preprint)

The organisers obviously put the corona virus pandemic center stage as our shared crisis which has precipitated the response of scientists, scholars and the public for greater access to knowledge and its speedy translation into social and political practice.  

The EUvsVirus hackathon (final report) showed how the corona virus crisis itself is a multidimensional crisis of health, economics, political, cultural, learning, transport, etc. – touching so many parts of our lives. 

Climate change was also flagged as the key example of global challenges and as recently pointed out by Robert Kiley, Head of Open Research at Wellcome on the LSE Impact BlogThree lessons COVID-19 has taught us about Open Access publishing’ we need 100% Open Access for all critical areas.

Over the course of the barcamp session the questions of what was learning about ‘the crisis of science’ and ‘science for times of crisis’ have been sampled from three example barcamp session of: the project ‘openVirus’ looking at the question of open search and evidence mapping for viral transmission in general; Open Climate Knowledge a FORCE11 working group and development in solutions to energy use from the Open Energy Modelling Community, and from Open Science Community Utrecht and how this model has been adopted across a number of universities.

This has been the first time that an Open Science Barcamp in a purely online format and the experiences proved that barcamps can work online – which is a great success. The barcamp format relies on spontaneity which is usually driven by being in person in a space. Sessions get suggested in a larger group meeting and then through voting and all those subtle nonverbal cues and personal interventions of organisers. Then in the barcamp sessions these rely on conversations, sometimes friendly conflicts – but always welcoming and are run to suit all knowledge levels.

After six months of social interaction via video conferences the collective intelligence has learned to carry over enough of the subtleties of personal ‘in real life’ interactions to make the excitement of the in person Open Science Barcamp work online – of discovering new ideas and meeting new people.

What haven’t caught up are the technical platforms for group interaction online and it is more like people persevere in spite of them. There is still some distance before the worlds of social media, gaming and the Open Web make it into the online meeting space. At the barcamp a little gamification might not go amiss to break the patterns of interaction, in the ‘in real life’ barcamps this might happen through Club-Mate boost, a hallway conversation, or being put on the spot for an impromptu Open Science Radio interview slot. 

What the online version of the barcamp allowed was international participation with participants attending from Iran, Kashmir and other Indian states, Chile, and the Netherlands.

The openVirus project held a ‘demo’ session led by Dr. Ambreen Hamadani and Shweata N Hegde on data mining Open Access literature for a wide variety of infectious diseases. openVirus is an open-source project that started at the beginning for the pandemic European lockdown in March. Addressing the ‘crisis of science’ the project looks to make search open and transparent and put access to scientific literature in the hands of the public and scholars globally. The project has been driven by an India institutional grouping INYAS-KARYA-NIPGR and Cambridge University collaboration – onboarding groups of Indian student interns from the Indian Science Academies. Together with the openVirus project leader Peter Murry-Rust they have brought the system up to being run in a Jupyter Notebook making it much more widely available.

Hamadani, Shweata, Murray-Rust, & Worthington. (2020, October). Open Science: From the crisis of science to science for times of crisis?. Zenodo.
Slides: Hamadani, Shweata, Murray-Rust, & Worthington. (2020, October). Open Science: From the crisis of science to science for times of crisis?. Zenodo.   
Video: Short Movie to Showcase “INYAS-KARYA-NIPGR-Cambridge” OpenVirus Remote Internships during Covid-19! 

The Open Climate Knowledge (OCK) project facilitated a session on climate change. OCK is campaigning for 100% open research for climate change. The one resource we have ‘human knowledge’ that can be used to mitigate the effects of global warming is still not available for use, either for reasons of profit by publishers, lack of support for researchers, or lack of leadership by institutions. OCK looks to gather statistics on percentages of open research to help make the case for change. New areas of knowledge areas have been opening up, driven by Open Science practices, such as the openMod community – primarily European Open Energy Modellers – who look at grounding policies for rapid decarbonisation in science and not unfounded speculations. OCK uses the same technology base as openVirus. 

Adaptation of Special Report on Global Warming of 1.5°C . SPM.1: Figure 1 of the Summary for Policymakers of the IPCC’s Special Report on Global Warming of 1.5°C.
Image: Adaptation of Special Report on Global Warming of 1.5°C . SPM.1: Figure 1 of the Summary for Policymakers of the IPCC’s Special Report on Global Warming of 1.5°C. 
Slides: Worthington. (2020, October). Open Climate Knowledge 100% Open for Climate. Zenodo. 

Open Science Communities was another barcamp slot looking at questions of a bridging academia and societal stakeholders to inform, inspire and co-create. This session was led by Loek Brinkman & Anita Eerland from Utrecht University. Open Science Community (OSC) was originally formed at Utrecht University to engage students and staff in Open Science practice and has spread to most universities in the Netherlands. With a starter kit available here

The session picked up from the themes of the barcamp Ignite Talk of engaging with the wider public and the moderators wanted to explore how the OSC framework might be expanded to engage the public and take on board Citizen Science advocacy.

Open Science Communities provide a place where newcomers and experienced peers interact, inspire each other to adopt Open Science practices and values, identify opportunities […] By creating momentum and critical mass, Open Science Communities usher in a cultural change towards Open Science. You can be part of this!

OSC Starter Kit 

Other sessions were run on: mental health; bridging science and the public through social media, and; on MOOC and training materials.

Further Leibniz Research Alliance Open Science, Open Science Barcamps are planned and you can find out more details here. Interestingly the Netherland National Open Science Festival taking place in February 2021 will put the barcamp model at the center of the conference.


Spates, Kamesha. 2012. ‘“The Missing Link”: The Exclusion of Black Women in Psychological Research and the Implications for Black Women’s Mental Health’. SAGE Open 2 (3): 215824401245517.

Pownall, Madeleine, Catherine V. Talbot, Anna Henschel, Alexandra Lautarescu, Kelly Lloyd, Helena Hartmann, Kohinoor M. Darda, et al. 2020. “Navigating Open Science as Early Career Feminist Researchers.” PsyArXiv. October 13. doi: 10.31234/

DOI: Moving the Open Science Barcamp Online!, published 2020 via Generation Research,