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PLOS BLOGS Speaking of Medicine

Hello, We’re Open

Karin Purshouse (@karinpurshouse), a clinical and academic junior doctor in Oxford, invites you to join the conversation with other early career researchers at the next OpenCon Community Call, this Wednesday, July 29.

It is not always easy, as a junior researcher, to stick your head above the parapet and stake your commitment to Open Access. As a junior doctor and early career researcher myself, I find speaking about OA with even my peers can feel controversial. But finding the courage to be an OA advocate as junior researchers through talking and listening is exactly what the OpenCon Community Call is all about.

OpenCon2014
OpenCon 2014. Image credit: Aloysius Wilfred Raj

The OpenCon Community Call was born after a group of 150 students, librarians and early career researchers met at OpenCon2014 in Washington, D.C. in November last year, bringing together an international community of people interested in Open Access, Open Data and Open Education. From every continent bar Antarctica, we represented fields as diverse as Slavic Languages and Literature to Computational Neuroscience and pretty much everything in between. As conferences go, we all agreed it had been epic – from the peers we had connected with to the caliber of senior figures we were able to both lobby and learn from, it had been a game-changer of a conference for all of us in appreciating our pivotal role in the OA movement. A key concern we shared was how to continue and develop our open community. We wanted to continue to learn from and support each other in striving for open-ness, as well as provide a platform for those new to Open Access to join the conversation. With that, the OpenCon Community Call was conceived.

The formula is simple – we talk about all things Open in a ‘safe’, low pressure environment, keep up to date with OA developments and support each other with new projects and initiatives to promote OA in our environments. Hosted monthly, each call is one hour of structured news sharing and discussions via a teleconference call, and the agenda and minutes are continuously updated and available. Everyone is free to contribute to the call or the agenda/minutes, and we have a coordinating team who provide the structure for the call. Around 20-25 participants representing both familiar faces as well as new ones have been attending each call. We’ve had everything – discussions about developing OA policies at universities and other academic institutions, guest speakers such as Kevin Smith from Duke University who spoke to us about Elsevier’s recent press release on a new sharing policy, or individual quandaries, such as how Ebola research can be made OA or how to get local initiatives off the ground.

The June edition of the OpenCon Community Call saw participants, many of them new attendees, from every corner of the world meeting for a global chat. A theme was looking ahead to the OpenCon 2015 conference, which saw a staggering 1700 applicants in 2014. In discussing how we can build on last year’s extraordinary conference, one gets a sense of the priorities and concerns for librarians, students and early career researchers all over the world. A strong message from call participants in India and Botswana was the need to support and develop policies for the Global South, given how it is disproportionately affected by the expensive pay-walls of closed access publishing. We heard feedback from the Open Textbook Summit – a discussion that has fueled new collaborations from members of the call to develop Open Education resources on university campuses. It was exciting to hear about novel software platforms from those who had attended OA19, the CERN Workshop on Innovations in Scholarly Communication. We also heard the latest news and developments in Open Access, data and Education – including the forthcoming trial of Diego Gomez, the Colombian Masters student facing criminal charges for sharing his thesis, and the latest on Elsevier’s article sharing policy.

After each call is complete, we return to our normal lives, renewed in our motivation for whatever open projects we are working on and inspired by the amazing work being driven by our peers all over the world. Too often, a conference is a one-time event – we think it is life changing at the time, but enthusiasm inevitably fizzles out. Here we feel we’ve developed a real community that keeps us moving forward, and one that is growing all the time.   We invite you to join our Community and join the conversation. Our next call will be July 29th at 4pm GMT+1, 11am EDT, 8am PDT – details can be found at opencon2015.org/community/calls – we’ll see you there!

Dr Karin Purshouse is an Academic Clinical Fellow in Medical Oncology in Oxford, and was a visiting Fulbright researcher at Yale University (2014-15). She is an alumnus of OpenCon2014.

Learn about OpenCon2015 here. And follow them on twitter @open_con

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