At its core, OpenCon is a community, and healthy communities are only possible when the individuals within them feel safe. Because of this, we have been working continually to strengthen the OpenCon code of conduct—both the code itself and the guidelines around its enforcement. We feel it is essential that the code make clear the expectations of community members, provide a variety of options for reporting, and effectively address incidents when individuals don’t live up to the values of the community and others are harmed as a result. Like broader efforts around equity, diversity, and inclusion, improving OpenCon’s code of conduct and our policies to make the community as safe as possible is a continual process, not an end point.
Following the 2016 OpenCon meeting, we became aware that OpenCon’s code of conduct was not supporting the community in the way we feel is necessary. We heard informally that behavior that violated our code of conduct and negatively impacted participants had occurred, but we were unable to confirm key details surrounding the specific behavior and the individuals affected. No reports were filed by participants that year (or previously). This made it very clear to us that simply having a code of conduct was not enough and that a code of conduct could only help keep our community safe if people felt comfortable using it. It is our responsibility as organizers to use all of the tools available to us to support individuals in coming forward to report inappropriate behavior and to avoid incidents in the first place by making clear what is expected of participants.
Driven by these concerns, we focused on making improvements last year in how we communicate the code of conduct, in the options for making a report, in our process for responding to reports, and by attempting to reduce alcohol consumption at the flagship event. Those improvements include:
- Adding an anonymous reporting option to the code of conduct
- Revising the summary at the beginning of the code of conduct to more clearly explain what is expected of participants and what behaviors are inappropriate
- Adding more detail about our plans for supporting those submitting reports and potential sanctions for those who violate the code of conduct
- Highlighting the code of conduct and expectations for appropriate behavior both before and during the flagship meeting
- Establishing a code of conduct committee with representatives from the community to respond to reports
- Creating detailed internal guidelines for responding to potential reports in various scenarios
- Limiting free alcohol provided at social events
During and following the 2017 meeting, we received our first reports through this updated process. Actions were taken during the meeting to respond to incidents, support those making the reports, and address the inappropriate behavior with the individuals who violated the code of conduct. In the process of responding to these first reports and in follow up conversations with the human resources team at our fiscal sponsor, we identified areas for improvement in the code of conduct itself, in how we respond to reports, and in how we close reports and notify everyone involved of the outcomes and relevant actions taken.
Initially, we believed these updates should be in place before taking further action on reports and focused first on these areas for improvement. It became increasingly clear that we should be working through these two areas—improving the code of conduct and closing reports that were opened—in parallel rather than sequentially. Upon realizing this, we have worked, and continue to work, as quickly as appropriate to review actions taken, consider with our code of conduct committee if additional actions or sanctions were needed, and inform all of those involved of the result. We commit to learning from these challenges and continuing to improve how we handle any reports in the future.
We are consistently in awe of the positive impact that members of the OpenCon community have—locally, nationally, and internationally—and we believe that working our hardest to ensure participants’ safety and an environment free from harassment is fundamental to OpenCon and any efforts to build a more equitable, diverse, and inclusive community. As part of that commitment, we will soon release an updated version of our code of conduct, its enforcement processes, and a blog post explaining the key improvements in the new version. We would welcome your feedback on this revision, which we will consider when making future updates to the code.
The safety of the OpenCon community is always our top priority. If at any time you need to make a report, please contact us at the email addresses below or via our anonymous submission form here.
Students can have a tangible impact on an open access policy at their universities, and that impact that doesn’t have to end when we graduate. As open access advocates, we are fighting a long fight—one that might take longer than our degrees. It can take years to pass an OA policy. For many of us, that means we might not be students anymore when our university finally adopts a policy. That’s exactly what happened for us.
In 2014, when we—then a law student and a library science grad student—founded an OA initiative at the University of Washington, we envisioned a student-led effort that we would see through to the end. We had lofty ideals of implementing a policy within months.
But when we graduated in 2016, despite the significant progress we had made, a policy was only barely in sight. The undergraduate, graduate, and faculty senates had all passed resolutions “committing to” OA, and we had even secured a mandate for a working group to investigate OA. While that was a promising start, plenty of work remained to be done. With graduation looming, we feared that all the momentum we had built throughout the university community would fade away before our university was able to adopt an official policy.
We could not have been more wrong. Instead, committed groups of faculty and librarians tirelessly followed through for years after we graduated. When we got the news in May that the University of Washington passed an OA policy, it marked the achievement of a goal over five years in the making. We had planted the roots, and as students, we had an important say in the ideas behind the policy. But in the end, the policy itself was appropriately driven by faculty and library staff.
Whether your time at university has just started or your graduation is coming up, you can take steps to make sure that your OA advocacy will have long-term impacts. Here are some that worked for us, and some that we would pursue in hindsight.
Secure a faculty champion(s)
Your greatest partner in building a resilient OA campaign is a faculty member who is just as passionate about OA as you are. This person will represent faculty interests, have a seat at faculty tables, and can help you navigate faculty concerns. As student organizers, we learned from our faculty champion how to be faculty members’ greatest supporters and assistants. This means balancing student energy and knowledge with their experience, expertise, and stake in the issue.
Pound the pavement at faculty councils
In addition to individuals to serve as faculty champions for your university’s OA initiative, seek out relevant faculty councils. A robust OA policy calls for support across all levels of the university, and faculty councils can be a critical bridge between student momentum and wider, more sustainable faculty engagement. We found solid, early support and input from our university’s Faculty Council on Research and Faculty Council on University Libraries.
Start with students
In addition to seeking support from different faculty groups, reach out to your fellow students! Some of our earliest tangible victories were resolutions in support of OA from our university’s undergraduate and graduate governing bodies: the ASUW (Associated Students of the University of Washington) and the GPSS (Graduate and Professional Student Senate). The GPSS and ASUW resolutions were critical backup as we brought OA up for official faculty consideration. Faculty care what students think.
Line up student successors
This is a step we were not able to accomplish before we graduated, and we regretted it. Avoid our mistake, and start early to seek out energetic students who can take your place leading OA efforts after you graduate. This could be students working on the OA initiative with you who have more time until they graduate, student government leaders and representatives, or even students who interact with OA issues in their academic work. Wherever they come from, prioritize keeping students “at the table” after you leave the university.
Make resources available to your university community.
While you are still a student, you can put together “evergreen” resources and information that will remain useful to OA leaders, critics, and otherwise at your university. We maintained a website for our initiative, complete with a timeline of our progress, an explanation of how OA would work at our university, and an exhaustive FAQ. We also brought together numerous, excellent external resources. In addition to helping us organize our thoughts, keep track of links, and respond to questions during our time at the initiative, it was also useful to others both before and after we graduated.
Leading an OA initiative at your university can be exhausting and discouraging. We ran into countless speed bumps along the way, from faculty members with fundamental objections, to procedural challenges, to administrative attempts to undermine the initiative. This is when it’s most important to keep the long game in mind. The work you are doing goes beyond you, beyond your time as a student, and even beyond your university. You are part of a larger movement of OA advocacy, and the work you are doing has immense value regardless of the eventual outcome. Don’t give up!
The annual OpenCon global conference brings together the most promising students and early-career scholars advancing open access, open data, open educational resources, and many other aspects of open scholarship. However, OpenCon is more than a conference; it is also a growing international community who supports sharing knowledge and advocating for transparency in order to lead to better research and education worldwide.
Latin American representation in the OpenCon community has been growing since 2014. At OpenCon 2016, we had the largest number of Latin American participants up-to-to date, and for the first time, were able to hold an entire session in Spanish and Portuguese. Participants from 10 countries — Argentina, Brazil, Colombia, Costa Rica, Ecuador, Guatemala, México, Nicaragua, Perú, and Puerto Rico were there. The outcome of that session was the establishment of an international organizing committee dedicated to setting up a regional satellite meeting — OpenCon Latin America (OpenCon LatAm).
After 2016 OpenCon’s summit, a group of advocates from the region continued working together for the celebration of this LatAm satellite event, which was held in Mexico DC in October, 2017. During the previous months, the event was collaboratively planned through monthly calls. There were several panels with the aim to discuss the main challenges to advance Open Education, Open Access and Open Data in the region, but also to acknowledge those communities and movements that have been promoting them for at least two decades.
Some of the presentations can be found in the open repository of the event here.
At the global OpenCon event, an unconference was held among those participants from Latin America, with the goal to decide which country could host the next regional satellite event. Buenos Aires, Argentina, was the final choice, given the presence of several participants in the city that could promote the event locally. OpenCon LatAm 2018 will be hosted at the Metropolitan University for Education and Work (UMET), during Saturday 29th of October.
The purpose of this year’s event continues to be the discussion of both the challenges, ongoing projects and experiences that involve several communities working towards openness in academia and education.
The event will be opened with a talk by Dominique Babini, who has been one of the main figures promoting Open Access in the region for more than two decades. After that, the morning panel brings together experts from Chile and Colombia that will present the current landscape of openness in the region and to discuss with the audience the next steps to advance these experiences.
Later in the afternoon, a panel inspired by the idea of an Open University will present several projects that promote openness and transparency inside universities: from an open government project at the National University of La Plata, to an Open Scientific Hardware development experience in the Faculty of Exact and Natural Sciences of the University of Buenos Aires, and the cases of “libre” software development in the National University of Mendoza and community labs in Brazil.
Finally, we will offer four workshops: to of them for the development of kits (on open science and open education) and the others on open data and open licences. There will also be an unconference discussion on open access journals. We hope these are the spaces where students and early careers researchers will have the opportunity to get hands-on into some of the main issues that the region is facing in its advancing of an open ecosystem of practices and institutions.
The application period for OpenCon 2018 on November 2-4 in Toronto is now open! The application is available at https://www.opencon2018.org/apply and includes the opportunity to apply for a travel scholarship. Applications will close on July 13th at 11:59pm U.S. Pacific Time.
OpenCon seeks to bring together effective, engaged students and early career academic professionals from around the world to advance Open Access, Open Education, and Open Data—regardless of their ability to pay for travel costs. In OpenCon’s first four years, most invited attendees who required financial support to attend have received scholarships. For this reason, attendance at OpenCon is by application only. The application process is central to allocating the limited spaces for attendees and scholarship funding equitably. Applications are reviewed by alumni from previous years, and our international organizing committee makes final decisions on acceptances and scholarships.
The benefits of applying for OpenCon 2018 extend far beyond attending the meeting in Toronto this November. It’s an opportunity to find new collaborators, get connected with scholarships to attend related conferences, and actively participate in a larger community of Open advocates year-round.
Students and early career academic professionals of all experience levels are encouraged to apply. We want to support those who have ideas for new projects and initiatives in addition to those who are already leading them. The most important criteria is an interest in advancing Open Access, Open Education, and Open Data and a commitment to taking action. You can learn more about the types of projects and impact OpenCon community members are working on to advance Open through our community report.
OpenCon’s flagship global meeting helps drive culture change toward open by bringing together the most energetic, engaged students and early career academic professionals. Participants learn about Open Access, Open Education, and Open Data, develop critical skills, find collaborators, and catalyze action toward a more open system for sharing the world’s information—from scholarly and scientific research, to educational materials, to digital research data. OpenCon 2018’s three-day program will begin with two days of panels and interactive workshops that place an emphasis on highlighting diverse, early career voices from every continent. The third day will feature an all-day “Do-A-Thon,” where participants have the opportunity to craft new campaigns, lay the foundations for new resources, and form collaborations that will continue long after the November conference is over.
While attendance at the main conference in Toronto is by application only, everyone is invited to participate freely in the interactive webcast, OpenCon 2018 Live, and work to advance Open through OpenCon’s unique Do-A-Thon. OpenCon is also looking for partners to host satellite events—meetings that combine themes from the global conference with local presentations, workshops, and discussions to advance the conversation around Open in your local community. In 2017, there were 34 OpenCon satellite events in twenty countries—all thanks to their incredible hosts, who included students, scientists, librarians, researchers, and advocates from around the world who are working hard to increase action around Open Access, Open Data, and Open Education. To express interest in hosting your own satellite event and get more information, please visit https://www.opencon2018.org/satellite.
The meeting in Toronto serves as the centerpiece of a much larger network to foster initiatives and collaboration among the next generation across OpenCon’s issue areas. We hope that you can become an active part of the community tuning in for our monthly community calls, or hosting an OpenCon satellite event in your region.
Apply now, and join the OpenCon community today!
OpenCon is a platform for catalyzing culture change toward openness in research and education, at scale and in context. OpenCon’s programs work to develop, activate, and connect a global community of next generation leaders who are driving the culture shift toward open locally, nationally, and internationally. OpenCon creates this community through its flagship global meeting, satellite events hosted around the world, and regular community calls. OpenCon is hosted by SPARC and the Right to Research Coalition.
SPARC, the Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition, is a global coalition committed to making Open the default for research and education. SPARC empowers people to solve big problems and make new discoveries through the adoption of policies and practices that advance Open Access, Open Data, and Open Education. Learn more at sparcopen.org.
The Right to Research Coalition is an international alliance of graduate and undergraduate student organizations, which collectively represent nearly 7 million students in over 100 countries around the world, that advocate for and educate students about open methods of scholarly publishing. The Right to Research Coalition is a project of SPARC.
SPARC and the Right to Research Coalition, in partnership with York University, Ryerson University, and the University of Toronto, are excited to announce that OpenCon 2018—the flagship global meeting of the OpenCon community—will take place on November 2-4 in Toronto, Canada.
Setting the default to open for research and education is fundamentally about people and the decisions they make. The culture of research and education emerges from the countless individual decisions made by millions of researchers and educators each day—at different types of institutions, within different disciplines, and in every country. OpenCon is a platform for catalyzing change in this culture, at scale and in context. OpenCon’s programs work to develop, activate, and connect a global community of next generation leaders who are driving the culture shift toward open locally, nationally, and internationally. OpenCon creates this community through its flagship global meeting, satellite events hosted around the world, and regular community calls.
OpenCon’s flagship global meeting helps drive this culture change by bringing together the most energetic, engaged students and early career academic professionals. Participants learn about Open Access, Open Education, and Open Data, develop critical skills, find collaborators, and catalyze action toward a more open system for sharing the world’s information—from scholarly and scientific research, to educational materials, to digital research data. OpenCon 2018’s three-day program will begin with two days of panels and interactive workshops that place an emphasis on highlighting diverse, early career voices from every continent. The third day will feature an all-day “Do-A-Thon,” where participants have the opportunity to craft new campaigns, lay the foundations for new resources, and form collaborations that will continue long after the November conference is over.
OpenCon strives to ensure that diversity, equity, and inclusion are both foundational to the community’s efforts to open up research and education and priorities for continual improvement. OpenCon seeks to be as globally inclusive as possible and to advocate for a future that is not only open but also equitable and co-designed with diverse stakeholders—especially those from marginalized groups. In 2017, OpenCon released a report on diversity, equity, and inclusion that contains lessons learned, suggestions for conference organizers, and a self-analysis with relevant data. That report can be found at opencon2018.org/dei_report
Attendance at the meeting is by application only, and the majority of past participants have received full or partial travel scholarships. Each year, most participants are first-time attendees and are selected from a pool of thousands of qualified candidates through a community-run review process based on the likelihood that their participation will translate into impact.
Applications to attend OpenCon 2018 in Toronto will open on June 12th. For more information about the conference and to sign up for updates—including a reminder when applications open—visit opencon2017.org/updates.
Organized by the Right to Research Coalition and SPARC, OpenCon 2018 builds on the success of the first four OpenCon conferences, which collectively convened approximately 750 participants from more than 80 countries. In addition, OpenCon’s unique structure has supported more than 100 satellite events, enabling over 7,000 attendees across 38 countries to participate in an in-person OpenCon event. Throughout the year, many of these individuals remain engaged through monthly community calls and their own projects, campaigns, events, and initiatives.
Members of the OpenCon community launch campaigns, create new national-level organizations, and some even switch careers to work in open professionally—in libraries, at foundations, with publishers, and in governments. They’ve built new platforms, influenced international discussions, and, most importantly, made an impact locally. You can learn more about OpenCon’s impact in our community report released last year, available at opencon2017.org/community_report
The OpenCon conference and community are only possible with the support of leading organizations with a strong commitment to support student and early career academic professional involvement across Open Access, Open Education, and Open Data. Sponsorship contributions comprise a majority of the funds used to organize the meeting each year and provide travel scholarships. If your organization is interested in supporting OpenCon, you can find more information and a variety of sponsorship opportunities at opencon2017.org/sponsor.
Applications to attend OpenCon 2018 open June 12th. For more information about the conference and to sign up for updates, visit opencon2017.org/updates. You can follow OpenCon on Twitter at @Open_Con or #opencon.
SPARC®, the Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition, is a global coalition committed to making Open the default for research and education. SPARC empowers people to solve big problems and make new discoveries through the adoption of policies and practices that advance Open Access, Open Data, and Open Education. Learn more at sparcopen.org.
The Right to Research Coalition is an international alliance of graduate and undergraduate student organizations, which collectively represent millions of students in over 100 countries around the world, that advocate for and educate students about open methods of scholarly publishing. The Right to Research Coalition is a project of SPARC.
OpenCon 2017 Campinas was the second edition of our satellite event that took place on October 27. As well as our first meeting, we ran it before the main conference in combination with our National Science and Technology Week. It was a one-day event focused mainly on Open Education. This year, we offered a total of 14 activities—we also ran a poster session with the presentation of over 70 students’ projects.
In the early afternoon, we began the event with an informal talk about Open Education and its opportunities and challenges in the Brazilian context. Two specialists from academia and private sector were invited to take part in this talk. We then hosted two sessions of simultaneous activities where attendees could choose to take part of, such as seminars, workshops, and open meetings. By the end of sessions, students presented their in-progress works in the form of poster. A good number of these works were related to Open causes.
In the early evening we had our special moment with a keynote about Open Education. We closed the event by awarding of the best three posters presents in the event. OpenCon 2017 Campinas was an effort of a team with 13 people that started planning in early July. We also counted on many students that helped on the day of the event as volunteers. The 2017 edition received 300 people during the whole day, a significant increase considering the 2016 edition that got together 250 participants.
You can get more details and see photos from our event at https://www2.cmp.ifsp.edu.br/opencon (in Brazilian Portuguese only).
Andreiwid Corrêa is an early career professor at Federal Institute of Sao Paulo. His interest in Open issues came up when he started his Ph.D. in Open Data. Since then, his interactions with the Open community has brought a lot of opportunities to advance other Open areas such as Open Education. He has hosted two successful satellite events in Campinas, Brazil!
Interested in hosting an OpenCon satellite event in 2018? Visit opencon2017.org/satellite for more information!
A new way to take action with the OpenCon community, from wherever you are
We often say that OpenCon is more than just a conference — it’s also a global community made up of diverse people, all with a shared vision of a more equitable and open system for sharing the world’s scholarly information. It’s a conference and community we’re constantly looking to experiment with. We’re eager to explore new ways that the next generation of scholars, students, librarians, educators, practitioners and advocates can collaborate to advance Open Research and Open Education.
This is why we’re excited to announce that this year, for the first time, Day 3 of OpenCon 2017 will be a do-a-thon: a day of making, trying, designing, prototyping, testing, and learning in the name of advancing Open Research and Education (like a hackathon, but less focused on tech—and more focused on collaboration and problem-solving). You can participate from wherever you are, which is one of the reasons why we’re so excited about the do-a-thon. We’re always looking for ways for OpenCon to be more inclusive and engaging for people who are not physically in the room.
The do-a-thon's focus is on action. You don't need to be a coder or a designer or a “techie” to participate. We’re hoping people will use the day to develop and execute ideas for new campaigns, strategy development, policy changes, resource creation, educating, media-based organizing, and more! We want you to get creative with the approaches you take to create a more open system for sharing the world's information.
So — how do you get involved?
There are three different ways you can participate in the do-a-thon, before, during—and after the day itself:
1. Submit a Project
Have a project idea you want to put into action? Or an existing project that needs support? The do-a-thon is a great opportunity to make a quick mock-up to pitch or test an idea you have to advance Open Research or Open Education. It's also a chance to receive support and contributions from collaborators around the world. Building and strategizing on the day with new collaborators can make it much easier to keep the momentum after the event! Some projects that have already been proposed include:
Collaboratively building an open introductory engineering textbook [Read more]
Translating Software and Data Carpentry open lessons into Spanish [Read more]
And more! See the growing list of projects that have been proposed here.
You can learn more about how to submit a project at: http://doathon.opencon2017.org/project. Once you submit, we’ll email you tips and tools to make the most of the do-a-thon.
2. Submit a Challenge
If you don't have a project idea, that's totally OK! We're also looking for participants to ask big questions about Open Research and Open Education. And so — people will also have the option of submitting challenges for folks to work on together on tackling during the do-a-thon. Some questions your fellow participants already started to put forward include:
How might we make Open Educational Resources more easily editable to better serve local contexts? [Read more]
How might we ensure that early career academic professionals are meaningfully represented on the boards of organizations working in the OA, OER, Open Data space? [Read more]
And more! See the growing list of challenges that have been proposed here.
You can learn more about how to submit a challenge at: http://doathon.opencon2017.org/challenge. Once you submit, we’ll email you tips and tools to make the most of the do-a-thon.
3. Contribute & Collaborate
We’re also just as excited if you choose to spend the day helping out on projects and challenges other folks have put forward — collaboration is what the do-a-thon is all about! This is also a great way to start to getting involved in advancing Open Research or Open Education. You can find a project or challenge to dive into with our lists of awesome projects, by browsing through projects and challenges in your region or issue area, or by what skills they need help with. Read more about how to best contribute to a project or challenge here.
Participants, both remote and in-person will be able to (and have already!) submit challenges and projects up to and including the day-of the do-a-thon itself. If you have any questions about the do-a-thon or how to get involved, please send an email to lorraine(at)sparcopen(dot)org.