[open-science] Open Science/Open Data at Science Conferences

Ross Mounce ross.mounce at gmail.com
Sat Aug 20 15:32:57 UTC 2011

I'm giving a purely Open Data talk at the British Ecological Society
annual meeting next month actually...


I've been invited for a little symposium entitled 'Publishing Science
in the online age'
It will hopefully be trackable on Twitter too, Sep 13th, using the
hashtag #BESdigital

here's a rough draft of my 10min talk so far...

Title: On the importance of 'Open Science' and 'Open Data'

Abstract: The Internet offers us an unprecedented opportunity to
disseminate research in all its forms, far and wide for ease of
accessibility, transparency, innovation, synthesis, education and
outreach. We could and *should* do more to take advantage of this
invaluable tool. One particular aspect that I campaign about, is the
digital and Open availability of research data. Arguably, in many cases
the underlying data is a more important and long-lasting contribution
than the research paper itself, yet it is common practice in scholarly
communications to only provide a paper with a mere description of the
data and analysis. We have the tools to move beyond this bare minimum,
and journals are slowly adopting them, but not nearly as much as they
should. So with this talk, I shall state the case for 'Open Data'
principles, with real examples of why accessibility and transparency is
vitally important for maximally efficient research, and how it can
benefit us all.

Needless to say I haven't done the slides yet.
I was thinking of reppin' Panton Principles, the OKF, Dryad, Figshare,
"It's The Data" [1]
"Linking Big" [2], DataCite (and the principles of data citation), and
current issues with citations e.g.
"Fame, Glory & Neglect in Meta-Analyses" [3,4,5]

That's probably a bit ambitious for 10mins but we'll see how it goes.
Suggestions for additions and/or ecology-specific additions are
I notice the 5 BES run journals are 'Dryad partners' but between them
have only submitted 1 dataset from 2009(!) to the Dryad repo! Perhaps
some influence could help persuade BES to become *active* Dryad

Finally, to provide some further comment on the general issue of
presenting on Open Data at Science conferences...

I'd love to do Open Data / Open Science advocacy talks at every
Science meeting I go to - a lot people just aren't aware of the issues
and I feel these talks could potentially be very valuable to change
and influence mindsets.
BUT I feel I can't for a couple of reasons. 1.) Is the classic "I
don't have the time/energy". For some conferences, I'd feel very lucky
if I even got one talk accepted (my main research stuff). To ask for
two separate talks would be almost unthinkable, and I kinda have to
put my research first atm (but I can sneak in a few advocacy slides at
the end of my talk if the conference isn't too serious, as I did at
ProgPal 2011: http://www.slideshare.net/rossmounce/progpal2011)

that reason probably isn't that novel or unexpected... but the next
might be a bit more interesting
2.) In my experience, if you DO give a serious, well-researched,
quantitated, subject-tailored, Open Data advocacy talk - people don't
view it as research; they see it as pure politics and it rules you
ineligible for talk prizes!
I'm particularly thinking of my Young Systematists' Forum Dec 1st 2010
talk: http://prezi.com/1s0lkatmc30t/the-continued-growth-of-phylogenetic-information/
The judges really liked it, thought it was a great talk, but it was
'unscorable' in their words. Having to stick to the set criteria on
their marking schemes, I apparently disqualified myself from the
student's competition!
The gist of it is; I have a horrible feeling that *some* people view
anything even mildly political as NOT Scientific, even if it's hugely
evidenced-based, and this is a significant problem to overcome.




[1] Botstein, D. It's the data! Mol. Biol. Cell 21, 4-6 (2010). URL
[2] Sidlauskas, B. et al. Linking big: The continuing promise of
evolutionary synthesis. Evolution 64, 871-880 (2010). URL
[3] Kueffer, C. et al. Fame, glory and neglect in meta-analyses.
Trends in Ecology & Evolution (2011). URL
[4] Piwowar, H.
[5] Seeber, F. Citations in supplementary information are invisible.
Nature 451, 887 (2008). URL http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/451887d.

Ross Mounce
PhD Student
Fossils, Phylogeny and Macroevolution Research Group
University of Bath
4 South Building, Lab 1.07

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