So, it is Open Access Week, so I thought I should drop by and tell you what I have been up to other than collecting swag.
It has been a very busy time. Heaps of things have happened and I am thrilled of how much louder the conversation about Open Access has become. So what I thought I might do on this post is link to some of the stuff that I have been doing over the past year.
Back in July, Cameron Neylon and I ran a Workshop on Open Research in the New Zealand context as part of the eResearch Symposium. It was great. There was a great crowd and Cameron did an excellent job moderating, and all we learned and gathered is being shared here. I think that one of the take-home messages from that workshop was the need to build a solid community of practice and communicate more actively with each other.
The symposium ran a bit after the Finch Report was released and PeerJ came out of the closet. So while Cameron and I were at Wellington we got a chance to chat about Open Access with Peter Griffin on the Sciblogs podcast.
Flew back to Auckland and hardly caught my breath before heading to Net Hui. Matt McGregor from Creative Commons Aotearoa New Zealand had asked me to participate in a panel on ‘Open in Tertiary’. I said yes. Then he texted me to ask me to do a radio interview about the panel with bFM. Have you ever tried to a radio interview over a mobile trying to find a quiet spot in Sky City? Well, this is what that sounds like.
Not long after I get a phone call from Radio New Zealand while I am on the bus. Dodgy connection. I was sick so I also had a dodgy brain. Nonetheless, kudos to the reported who managed to seep through the nonsense generated by a sickly brain and make something of it. The recording is here, and I was surprised to find that the clip also interviewed Peter Gluckman and Cameron Neylon.
All throughout the year, a bunch of us have also been busy organising a conference for next year on Open Research. You can find info on the conference on this site. And yes, we will take your money so just contact us if you can support us.
And I am currently going through the nominations for the New Zealand Open Source Awards – this year featuring Open Science. The finalists should be made known soon. Some great nominations!
And today begins Open Access week, and so back to work.
I already published a post in Mind the Brain on my experience as an Academic Editor in PLOS ONE, and another post appears in Creative Commons Aotearoa New Zealand site on the cultural heritage of science. Matt McGregor, our CCANZ lead has aggregated a wonderful collection of posts on their site – worth going onto the OA week page and read them!
I will be in two panels, one at Waikato University on Tuesday and one at University of Auckland on Thursday, and of course I will be stalking Alex Holcombe as much as possible while he is visiting Auckland.
So if you have a chance to come meet and greet, I am sure that by the time this week (and this year!) is over, I will be welcoming that drink! You can find activities for Open Access near you at the Creative Commons ANZ site.
When Victoria Costello contacted me to join the blog ‘Mind the Brain’ over at the PLoS blogging network, I was thrilled.
I love PLoS. I heard of them back when they were just starting, and have since contributed as an author and an academic editor. I have met both online and in real life people I respect and admire who are or were involved with PLoS. I also have a lot of respect for what PLoS has achieved not just as a publishing platform but for the role they play in the Open Access movement. Joining the PLoS blogging network? Heck, yeah!
Then there is Sciblogs.
I met Peter Griffin back in 2009 I think, and it would not be long before he, Dacia Herbulock and I would be sitting over a coffee discussing what was to become my blog. It was to be my first blogging experience (one that was made easier by Keith Ng’s blogging advice, and Peter’s continued words of wisdom). And so this blog was born. I might never have started blogging had it not been for Peter, and I am grateful to him for helping me find my voice. So after receiving Victoria’s invitation I rang him.
There were many possible scenarios how this might have played out. It wasn’t like Peter had not pinged me before asking why I wasn’t posting for a while. It isn’t like other blogs haven’t been archived. It is not like I bring a significant proportion of traffic to Sciblogs. Yet, Peter offered nothing but support and encouragement with the PLoS venture. And when my first post was published, he tweeted it from both his personal and the Science Media Centre account, and even highlighted it in the Science Media Centre’s newsletter. In short his response was, well, extra-ordinary.
So, I thought a hat tip was well-deserved. So there, Peter, a big thanks for not forcing me to make what would have been a very difficult choice.
When I was contacted to be a judge for the New Zealand Open Source Awards, I was elated. When I was told there was to be an Open Science category, I could not contain my joy.
The New Zealand Open Source Awards celebrate everything that is good about Open Source – mainly the opportunity to share and build on each other’s achievements. As a scientist I don’t feel the need to be told why this is good. After all science builds on the achievements of others and no project can be considered completed until the results are shared.
But how and when we share seems to be where we get stuck in the discussion.
Almost by definition, Open Science is about sharing early and without barriers. This (I think) makes science better: we make replication easy, we avoid duplicating efforts, and we make sure that any mistakes we made can be corrected, openly. It is a no-brainer to me. So having an Open Science category this year I think is absolutely fantastic! There are great Open Science projects in New Zealand that I wish will receive the recognition they deserve.
One thing I like about the NZ Open Source Awards is that they recognise openness in many areas (government, education, arts, business, science) – not just software. And raising the awareness of the impact of open source projects is a good step towards adopting that philosophy.
This year I am abstaining from nominating since I am a judge, so I am asking all of you to go down to the website before October 3 and nominate your favourite project. There are plenty to choose from, and I hope we can reward some well-deserving ones.
Every now and then something happens that gets me all excited about what comes next.
Today, it is the launch of PeerJ
Over 10 years ago I was approached by someone at a scientific conference who told me they were launching something that was to be called the Public Library of Science (PLoS), where people could publish their results and make it freely available to anyone, anywhere. The catch: authors paid for the publication cost. I wasn’t sure what to think of it. Yes, I would be totally behind it, and thought the ethos rocked but was not sure how they would get authors to pay for things they would otherwise be able to publish for ‘free’*.
Soon after that I moved to New Zealand and PLoS fell off my radar. Until 2006 when we decided to submit a paper to PLoS Biology. We got a letter back saying that we should instead submit to a new Journal they were launching: PLoS ONE, and that is where the paper got published. I immediately fell in love with PLoS ONE. But I had to wait over 3 years to become an Academic Editor, after meeting I think Steve Koch at Science Online 2010. Another decision I am proud of.
In 2009 I was visiting family in Minnesota, and decided to delay my return to New Zealand to attend SciBarCamp in Palo Alto. I had just been to my first unconference (KiwiFoo) and decided to give SciBarCamp a go. Best decision I ever made. It was there I first met Peter Binfield (0f PLoS ONE fame) and Jason Hoyt (who are responsible for PeerJ). There were many things that were said at that un-conference, but I vividly recall Jason’s session on Mendeley and Peter’s session on the future of publishing.
Well, it has been 3 years since then and now is the time for PeerJ.
What is special about it? It does not seem to be ‘another Open Access Journal’ but rather a completely different way of thinking of how authors and journals work together to put scientific results out there. It appears, to me and from what information I have access to, as a partnership. Scientists pay a membership fee and that allows them to publish there. For Free**. In return they commit to providing at least one review a year. Seems like a fair deal. I still find it amazing that at this time and age the majority of published science is ‘read only’. (Shocking, I know!) so I am keen to see how the post-publication interaction with the article (and the pre-publication record) will look like.
It is the sense of ‘partnership’ that I am also attracted to (and got me all excited). I have for some time been thinking whether there should be an ‘Open Science Society’ with its own journals, similar to other societies. A membership fee would subsidise the journal, and everything would be open access. Well, PeerJ is not exactly that, but it comes quite close. I actually like the idea of membership (with its perks) because it makes me the scientist care about that journal in a slightly different way. I am not sure whether Peter and Jason had this ‘partnership’ in mind, but it might just end up becoming that. And that might be a huge game-changer.
Well, we’ve come a long way since the first scientific journal was published back in the 1600’s, and not much had changed since then, other than the font. PLoS changed the game, and they did that so well that they are now one of the biggest scientific publishers. And it is now the turn of PeerJ.
I have a lot of respect for both Peter Binfield and Jason Hoyt (since I first met them in 2009). And I also see that they have Tim O’Reilly in their governing board (someone that deserves an un-interrupted series of hat tips as well).
So, paraphrasing a SciBarCamp question…
What would scientific publishing look like if it was invented today?
We might just be about to find out.*Well, we still pay to see the article. And in many cases we pay costs of publishing like colour figures, etc. But we tend to not think too much about that. Oh, yes, and of course we transfer our copyright – lest Wikipedia make something interesting with them.
**Different membership levels have different publishing privileges. But you can visit the site to get that nitty gritty.
If you are on twitter you might have seen that hashtag. And if you are a tax payer then we need you!
A petition has been lodged at the White House ‘We the People’ asking for all tax-payer generated scientific results to be made freely available.
This is how it works – If we get 25,000 signatures by June 19, then it will go to the Obama Executive Office. So you see, we do need you!
If you think you should have access to what you pay us the scientists to produce, then please go and sign the petition.
Read more about this petition here