This was the first fully online event for the main Open Science Barcamp and as one of the participants said ‘great success – almost as good as “the real thing” ;)’. Ninety-two participants quickly spun-up twelve sessions and a lot of productive spin-offs as well as some good lessons learned for evolving online Barcamp organisation. Barcamps are open community events, where participants pitch short sessions and if they get enough votes or support they go ahead, ‘BarCamps – an international network of user-generated conferences’ (Wikipedia).

Open Science Barcamp links

It was nearly a year ago that the Open Science Barcamp was being held in person at Wikimedia Deutschland’s offices in Berlin and already strict hygiene policies were in force for COVID. But it wasn’t until the following day that the Berlin Senate announced that all scientific meetings we’re to be suspended and shortly after lockdown began. A year on and now all our meetings are online, but even after Zoom fatigue the barcamp lives.

What has changed for Open Science in the last year is that the digital-shift is the new normal and that the social agenda of Open Science has gained in ascendance and articulation – equality, equity, and knowledge justice are center stage.

The day started with a ignite talk from Felicitas Kruschick (@felicitaskru) on inclusive education, and knowledge equality and inequality. The presentation was based on her own research project on Inclusive Education in rural communities in Ghana and more recently her inclusion as a Wikimedia Open Science Fellow 2020. Felicitas posed a number of questions for Open Science in a global context and if ‘open’ is enough: its efficacy, ambitions for equity, and what is overlooked if Open Science is assumed to be global when the inequalities of the Global South are not addressed by equitable rebalancing and the voices of the Global South are not part of discourse.

The barcamp sessions for the day were packed and it’s worth listing them here with their respective linked pads (excellently maintained):

Barcamp metapad

  1. Learner Generated Content as Open Educational Resources
  2. (Re-)using available research data in the social, educational, behavioral and economic sciences
  3. Discussing Approaches of Single Source Publishing in Research and Education | Community Networking
  4. Knowledge Inequity & Open Science criteria as a way out of it?
  5. At Your (Data) Service: How Can We Expand Research Data Management ‘Service Portfolios’
  6. Embargo periods in Open Science projects
  7. Publication infrastructures that support reproducibility
  8. How to support open scientists within your university?
  9. Recipes for Open Science? Let’s cook a community
  10. Open Knowledge Maps Custom Services
  11. Privacy preserving Open Data
  12. Open Science Elections

Below is a view into a selection of three barcamp sessions that took place, each lasting forty minutes, although being online means minus the usual count-down clock that sits on a table at the center of a barcamp pushing on the discussion forward.

Discussing Approaches of Single Source Publishing in Research and Education | Community Networking

Pad link

The session was moderated by Axel Dürkop @xldrkp. The session was looking at how to bring together different stakeholders from the Open Science community – software projects and researchers wanting an improved publishing system.

A good part of the session was spent on familiarising one another with what ‘single source publishing’ is about, its importance, and how it touches on a variety of parts of the research cycle and maybe pain points in working on and publishing papers and other publications.

Axel gave a short description of single source publishing (SSP) as ‘one text, three other formats in the end’, and it is this type of sane rationalisation that SSP want to bring to the table. But unfortunately it’s just the tip of the ice berg and below this is a mountain of complexity: formats, platforms, publishers, legacy systems, etc.

By some means interoperability and portability needs to be achieved for publishing and this is a goal of SSP. This is just one example of the direction SSP is going in.

Addressing the perspective of the author it can be seen that simple tools still don’t exist in the world and the SSP community working together could enable the innovation needed to bring them into being. For example plain text pads or Google docs do not address needs of academics – try making endnotes and footnotes with specific citation styles and they will fall down. Most definitely producing the three formats that Axel noted is not possible – that are publication ready, instead of just a file formats.

The session was driving at creating a community out of the discussion and there was a strong interest in this idea, so if SSP interests you, best contact Axel @xldrkp.

Knowledge Inequity & Open Science criteria as a way out of it?

Pad link

The session was moderated by Felicitas Kruschick @FelicitasKru who gave the barcamp opening Ignition talk ‘Inclusive Education: ‚From west to the Rest‘ – about the need of being aware of Knowledge (In-)Equality & Open Science’.

Starting from Felicitas’ research in Ghana, West Africa, the session was looking at questions of knowledge equality of the Global South. The context of the discourse was in the frame of: Decolonialism of academia and education; white privilege, racism and being actively anti-racist. A recent paper that was linked from the pad maps out for research publishing and academics such problems and approaches for solutions ‘Decolonizing Scholarly Communications through Bibliodiversity’ by Kathleen Shearer (COAR) & Arianna Becerril-García (AmeliCA).

Four questions were put forward for the session in the pad:

  • Is Open Science automatically leading to Knowledge Equity?
  • How are we deciding what is meant to be equitable? Especially: Who is deciding?
  • Why isn’t everyone working with Open Science criteria?
  • How can I use the position in my project to re-direct knowledge with Open Science criteria the best?

Addressing knowledge equity, the question led to asking ‘what is the difference between ‘equality’ and ‘equity’?’. One response was that, ‘equality as everyone having access to the knowledge, whereas equity is also about who is allowed to ask the research questions and create that knowledge’. This question of first of all is a recognition of a lack of knowledge distribution ‘equality’ and has to be followed with action ‘equity’ which is what is being asked of Open Science. What ideas and action can be put in place to address inequalities and further open it up to who makes those decisions.

The session has a good number of links and reading and this is being captured here on the GenR Zotero Group – #knowledge-equity.

How to support open scientists within your university?

Pad link

Moderated by Philipp Zumstein (@zuphilip).

Image: CoS

There were two questions posed for the session and interestingly the moderator took a poll and asked the participants to rank the answers. Here listed in order of importance with approximately ten people voting on each question.

Q1: How important is support for: Open Access, Open Data, Open/reusable software, Open Lab/Notebook, Preregistration of studies, Citizen Science. (Added later): Open Peer Review?

Q2: Open Access, Open Data, Open/reusable software, Open Lab/Notebook, Preregistration of studies, Citizen Science, Open Educational Resources, Open Peer Review. (Added later): Open Peer Review?

This session was bristling with ideas and pointers to initiative and literature. This shouldn’t come as much surprise as universities are playing catchup with Open Science, many not having Open Science policies let alone the work being talked about here which is implementation ‘support’. Focus on this type of support work in universities is vital as it is a clear failure in leadership of universities to take the lead here and benefit from Open Science and as it’s easier to signoff deals with monopolistic commercial service providers for researchers and students – ticking the university ranking tick-box.

Training and incentives are a good place to start, one example is for training supervisors at Amsterdam Medical University. CoS touches on incentives in their Strategy for Culture Change, but as was noted a few times guides need to be domain specific and how Open Science has different framing and discourse differs in different fields as noted for the humanities Open Science in the Humanities, or: Open Humanities? from Marcel Knöchelmann.

Advancing the barcamp format

The online barcamp for such a large group of participants succeeded in being useful for all involved but also for barcamp development.

A couple of topic specific areas announced they would run dedicated barcamps ‘(re)using research data for social and economic science’ in September and the ‘Single Source Publishing’ group also expressed an interest in hold a barcamp.

Feedback from participants was that sessions that had a series of questions that participants should respond too were more productive, instead of people giving open introductions from the group.

Collaborative online technology plays an important role in barcamps. The fluidity of pads in a plus as it’s more freeform that a platform, but the pad platforms need making more stable as when a hundred people are on board they crash. This is the fault of the platform coding and resources, and is a systemic problem that needs fixing.

The Open Science Barcamp organisers were open to developments of the barcamp and to the community making suggestions or running barcamps as part of the Open Science Barcamp. You can get in contact with the organisers here if you have any questions.


As a finishing note the Open Science Radio (@OpenSciRadio) will be releasing session interviews shortly.