#OpenCon highlights

Ten days ago, I spent most of my weekend on twitter – because I was following #OpenCon, the twitter stream that kept coming from the OpenCon 2015, a conference on open science/data/access/education help in Brussels. They also had a live webcast, but for some reason Gema did not allow this to be viewed in Germany, so twitter was my main source of information. Many crucially important issues were raised and discussed, and early career scientists made their voices heard.

Erin McKiernan again impressed everyone with her pledge to be an open scientist – I say again because I heard her at SfN, and was already impressed enough to write about her as well. She also introduced whyopenresearch.org, a resource she built which I am sure will be useful to many of us as we try to become as open as she already is! I’ll let her convince you directly:

Björn Brembs held a plenary lecture, of which one thing struck me particularly:

To me, this is a (if not the) fundamentally wrong incentive in science: the ‘need’ to publish in top-tier journals. These journals attract the most unreliable research, as Brembs showed, and eventually leads to this dilemma:

(The bottom quote, in case you can’t read: ‘You have to choose between making the world a better place, and having a career in science.)

Painful, but not too far off the mark.

So we end up doing stuff not necessarily because we think it’s the right thing to do/the best way to do research, but because we think that if we don’t do it, we will never get a career.


I wouldn’t absolve the researchers completely – there is plenty of blame to go around, and as some stellar examples such as Erin McKiernan show, it is possible to do science well and be successful.

Nevertheless, Geoffrey Bilder apparently gave a fabulous talk, and I totally agree with his main points: the need for infrastructure (YES!), saying it is not the researchers’ job to build it, and simply adding ‘framework’ will not make infrastructure occur out of nowhere (as little as adding ‘salad’ to unhealthy food will make it healthy):

Marshmallow salad, anyone?


Edit: I’d like to add/reiterate this final point:

Let’s take the onus off the researchers – let’s find ways to make it easier to be open.


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