Working as a journalist in Hong Kong, Linda Lew has drawn on her experience from OpenCon in her coverage of the novel coronavirus.
The early career reporter for the South China Morning Post went to Wuhan, China in early January to cover the outbreak of the then-unknown virus. Lew went in with as much precautions as were suggested at the time – a facemask, gloves, and disinfecting spray. Looking back, she says she’s lucky that she didn’t contract COVID-19. Since then, Lew has sometimes been putting in 10-12 hour days writing articles on everything from policies to politics to the impact of the global pandemic on scholarly communication.
“COVID has shined a large spotlight on the exorbitant cost of academic publishing,” Lew says. “When the virus first spread in February, it felt to me, personally—and to other members of the OpenCon community—that it was unacceptable that so much of COVID research was still behind paywalls. That kind of outdated model just boggles my mind when a pandemic is on.”
Many publishers have granted access to critical research in response to the crisis, but Lew worries that it is temporary. In her reporting, she is trying to explain the need for open science and open access to readers—many of whom are not aware of the issue. Even her editor, Lew says, was baffled when she explained how commercial publishers make high profits from tax-payer funded that is not open to the public.
Lew attended OpenCon in 2016 and 2017 curious to learn more about how to make knowledge available to her readers. She then served on OpenCon’s organizing committee in 2018.
“When I saw this community of people who were fighting to change the status quo and driving more equal access to data, I applied,” Lew says. “As journalists, we are public facing and trying to bring information to the masses. That was the goal in my mind.”
Lew says she left OpenCon eager to find ways to collaborate with other journalists and has since taken advantage of crowd sourcing projects. She plans to participate in an online COVID-19 monitoring project, sponsored by the Correspondent, calling for journalists to help build a database of policies to compare trends in technology surveillance of the virus.
Recently, Lew has written about preprints and the rapid peer review process to help the research community find the best science related to COVID-19. The article has been getting traction from advocates of open and push back from publisher trade industry groups.
“As time goes on, most of the COVID research has been made freely available,” says Lew, who has been at the Post since 2018. “The question remains whether the model will remain the way it is… or only become open when an outbreak happens, which does not seem fair to advocates of Open Access.”
With so much attention on Open Science at the moment, Lew says she is likely going to cover the topic more. She’s been able to leverage connections she made at OpenCon for sources in her reporting. As the concept of open is more broadly understood by the public, Lew says she is optimistic support will grow.
“We really need to think of a more sustainable and equitable model going forward,” Lew says. “I hope maybe through the media coverage and the change that has happened, this can be more on top of people’s mind.”
Over the next month, we’ll be reposting interviews from the SPARC blog with members of the OpenCon community who have been on the frontlines in the fight against COVID-19.
Roshan Kumar Karn puts in 16 to 18 hours, seven day a week, working at two hospitals in Nepal’s capital city of Kathmandu caring for the influx of patients with COVID-19.
“It’s a really difficult time. It’s physically and mentally exhausting,” says the 27-year-old medical doctor, who works in the cumbersome, but necessary, personal protective equipment. “But this is my job and I’m passionate about medicine.”
As a student and participant in SPARC’s OpenCon program for early career open advocates, Karn recognized the value of the open sharing of research. In 2013, he established Open Access Nepal and has hosted regional meetings to garnersupport. Through hardships of earthquakes, political instability, and now the novel coronavirus, Karn has been a leader working with policy makers and campus administrators to advance Open.
With the country straining to manage the pandemic and provide information to healthcare workers on the frontlines, Karn is pushing for innovative approaches to sharing data and expanding access to educational materials.
“With the emerging crisis of COVID-19, we believe that openness is more necessary than ever,” says Karn. “We are not sure when we are going back to normalcy, and we need to have access to information with the click of a button from anywhere.”
Working to contain this new disease, physicians are eager for the latest information on new protocols for COVID patients – as well as people battling other conditions. Karn is laying the foundation for a freely available app he hopes to launch called Open Medicine, which will provide doctors in Nepal with instant access to treatment options based on diagnoses.
The aim is to reduce the referral rates and need to travel from elsewhere in the country to hospitals in Kathmandu. Nepal has difficult terrain – in some places the only means of transportation is walking – and air travel to the capital is expensive. Once in the city, many discover government hospitals are at capacity because of the influx of COVID-19 patients. For most, private hospitals are not affordable and without insurance people have to pay out of pocket for treatment. Also, families who bring loved ones to Kathmandu encounter expenses while awaiting access to healthcare.
Yet, small villages in the country have Primary Health Care centers with physicians and healthcare assistants. “With Open Medicine, our aim is to equip these people with the resources – diagnosis, treatment protocols, medicine for specific diagnoses – so that they don’t have to refer these low income group people to tertiary centers,” Karn says. “This will eliminate the need for referral, aid in timely treatment, reduce significant costs for the patients, provide access to treatment to those people who would otherwise be unable to visit the capital city for treatment and in the long run will reduce the mortality and morbidity amongst these patients.”
Karn adds that the concept of Open Medicine aligns with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals to reduce mortality of patients by giving adequate resources for diagnosis and treatment.
The app would be similar to UptoDate, which is used by clinicians around the world to quickly distill the latest medical research and aid in treatment decision making. Karn is working with other physicians involved with OA Nepal to do a feasibility study for the project and customize the app for Nepal. The team is talking with deans of medical school and the Ministry of Education (MOE) to raise funds for the project.
“Access to research should come free or with a minimal cost. It’s about equality – the basic human right to have access to quality publications, research and education,” Karn says.
Karn is also collaborating with the MOE to establish a digital library to give children in Nepal access to learning materials. With schools closed for months and no plans to reopen, the project has a new urgency.
“The COVID pandemic has emphasized the importance of Open Access and Open Education more than ever,” Karn says. “I intend to explore all avenues which will further our agenda of openness.”
At OpenCon in 2015, Karn was recognized with the Right to Research Coalition Next Generation Leadership Award.
Of the Open effort in Nepal, Karn says: “It’s a huge struggle, but I’m really optimistic. I never thought we’d get this far in a country that faces so much poverty. We will make our dreams come true.”
Over the past 6 years, the OpenCon community has hosted many, many virtual discussions, and while it’s impossible to replicate the dynamics of being together in person, we’ve learned some important lessons for helping to make online meetings more inviting, participatory, and people-focused. As COVID pushes so many discussions online (from regular team meetings to entire conferences), we wanted to share some of those lessons in case they’re helpful in adapting to this shift in hosting conversations online.
We’ve been refining an OpenCon Community Call Facilitation Guide, which we’ve shared directly with those hosting community calls, and we’re now sharing it with the wider community. The guide is written in the context of OpenCon community calls specifically; however, many of the suggestions are broadly applicable.
We’ve learned that even seemingly small tweaks can make a big difference, and we hope our experience can provide one more piece of backup to the community as so many make this shift so quickly. Thanks to all of the OpenCon community call hosts who put incredible effort into leading these discussions and to Joe McArthur who led the creation of this guide.
[October 31, 2019] The OpenCon Code of Conduct Committee has decided to remove Jon Tennant from the OpenCon community and disallow his participation in future OpenCon events—in-person or online.
Details about OpenCon’s code of conduct policies, including instructions for submitting a report, are available at https://www.opencon2018.org/code_of_conduct.
Exploring this year’s Open Access Week theme of “Open for Whom? Equity in Open Knowledge,” Antoinette Foster reflects on underlying, often-invisible causes of exclusion and marginalization in research and calls on each of us individually to do the important work of critical introspection as an important first step in working collectively to make research more inclusive.
Written by: Antoinette Foster, PhD Candidate at Oregon Health and Science University
Does scientific research allow space for everyone, regardless of race, wealth, ability etc., to participate equally?
Does your program, department, or institution explicitly or implicitly create a scientific research environment that selects for a specific demographic of people to participate and thrive?
Who am I?
My name is Antoinette Foster. I am a black Latina woman, an activist, and a PhD candidate in neuroscience.
Who is this article for?
For people who believe research is not exclusionary, for those who believe it is, and everyone in between.
What’s my goal in writing this?
My objective is to present ideas to consider, evaluate, and apply your own critical thought process to. I hope readers remain curious, open, and honest about their thoughts and feelings as they read this. As researchers, our curiosity and ability to think critically represents core aspects of who we are. We strive to be seekers of objective truth, and we see value in alternative ideas that may hold merit. Your expertise in curious, objective, critical thought will be powerful tools in this discussion.
A common response to the questions above may sound something like this: “Of course we are a welcoming institute [department, program, work environment]. First of all, it is illegal to practice discrimination in the workplace. We let anyone apply to graduate programs, post-doctoral positions, and faculty/staff positions. In addition, we have ‘diversity quotas’ and pipeline programs to increase diversity. We even offer diverse individuals monetary incentives to come to our institution.” A typical retort might sound like, “Yes those things are true, but what about [insert an example of an exclusionary practice or inequity]?”. Then, a policy might be implemented to address the inequity; it is cited as an example of a proactive inclusion effort until another exclusionary practice surfaces. The scenario plays out over and over: wash, rinse, repeat. In a sense, both arguments are accurate. Some people are able to point to attempted efforts to create more equity, and others acknowledge areas that still need improvement.
I wonder if this approach makes sense. It reminds me of picking mushrooms. We pluck the fruiting body, addressing one mushroom after another, while completely overlooking the vast, strong, and invisible interconnected system beneath our feet. This foundational core of the mushroom is the very structure the fruiting bodies rely on for survival. The mushroom is merely a small manifestation of the much larger organism. Similarly, is it possible that the foundational core of academic research, ie. the core of what research is built on, undermines our own efforts to address social inequities seen in science? I cannot provide a comprehensive answer to these questions, but I would like to propose a possible framework to you while you consider these questions.
I believe we can start to understand our foundational structure by understanding what the research community thinks is important- What are our collective values and beliefs? For instance, we value objectivity because we believe that science should not be influenced by personal interest or community bias. One way the scientific structure reflects this value is by requiring external review for publications and grant applications. Researchers participate within this structure by submitting publications and grants. We can view this participation as a behavior. The value of objectivity and the related beliefs, structure, and behaviors are woven into the fabric of the scientific culture. Therefore, a possible model to find our foundational structure may look like this: Our values (what we think is important), shape our research structure (how we organize ourselves to do science). Our values also influence our behavior and attitudes (how we actualize, manifest, and justify our values), and our structure provides the framework where we execute our behavior. These elements create our research culture. To summarize:
I use this framework to understand the relationship between our values and how we embed these values and beliefs into our structures and culture. I also use this framework to understand how our structure and culture drives, supports, and protects our behaviors, and most importantly, how this may set a foundation for inequity.
What are other values we hold within research? As a neuroscientist, I am more familiar with values we hold within the scientific research community, but I imagine many values are universal. For example, we value researcher autonomy, i.e. that principal investigators (PI)/mentors should have autonomy over the direction of their research and how their lab is managed. Though this concept is not inherently bad, it becomes problematic when we assume PIs will treat their employees ethically and we grant autonomy without much supervision. We create a system (the lab) with little oversight and are hesitant to become involved when the environment seems amiss, all in the name of protecting autonomy. In the same vain, we value money. We might grant flexibility to unethical behavior if the PI receives large grants and runs a scientifically successful lab. We also value prestige and do not want to tarnish our program/institutions name, so we grant additional leniency to problematic behavior. Our actions, or lack thereof, speak volumes about how far we are willing to go to protect our core values. We can argue about the universality these specific values and behaviors, but I would bet most of us know of someone somewhere who has suffered as a consequence of “respecting” an employer’s autonomy. Our values of autonomy, money, and prestige lead us to behave in ways that protect our values, even in the face of dysfunction. In essence, our values can create and support systems that protect unethical behavior, while simultaneously devaluing those who are the target of unethical behavior. Unchecked values and behaviors allow us to create systems that have the potential to hurt others, often times victimizing those with less power. This is the opposite of inclusion.
What are other unchecked values that may drive exclusion and inequity? Here are two additional examples:
Value/belief: Sacrifice - We believe a “good scientist” puts science above all else.
- Toxic when: We believe this regardless of a person’s financial stability, family or community support, mental health, etc.
- Excludes: Those with less wealth who cannot afford unpaid internships or low wage stipends, single parent homes with little support, those with mental health needs (anxiety and depression are common in researchers)
- Selects for: Those with financial resources, community support, & access to health care
- Embedded in system/behaviors: Acceptance to graduate programs is dependent on previous (typically unpaid) internships. We view sacrifices made as a badge of honor regardless of the impact of the sacrifice on the individual.
Value/belief: Similarity - we value those who have similar values/paths as ourselves. We believe similarity is better.
- Toxic when: The decision-making bodies are homogenous and we consciously/unconsciously select for people similar to us
- Excludes: The demographics of people not represented in the decision-making process
- Selects for: The demographics of people represented in the decision-making process
- Embedded in system/behaviors: Homogenous decision-making bodies, biased grant funding based off value similarities or ‘scientific nepotism’ (association with well-known scientists results in a higher likelihood of funding/acceptance into positions)
These factors all shape and protect one of our most dangerous attitudes in research: If I can do it, why can’t they? If this woman can do it, why can’t she? If this black person can do it, why can’t another? We compare individual characteristics without examining the entire system. We subconsciously engage in determining someone’s ability and worth based off of simple comparisons and anecdotal evidence that does not consider the larger structural inequities.
If culture is merely an assembly of shared attitudes, values, and practices that characterizes an institution or organization, we must ask ourselves what these attitudes, values, and practices say about our research culture. As a black Latina woman from a low-income background, research culture holds values, beliefs, and attitudes that lay the foundation of a system that actively excludes someone like me. We can have as many pipeline programs as we want. We can require and attend cultural sensitivity trainings. We can abide by “diversity quotas” and include the words “diversity, equity, and inclusion” in every mission statement we make, but until we become deeply introspective about what our real values, beliefs, and attitudes are and how they drive the structures we create, we will continue to participate and perpetuate an exclusionary culture.
These problems are deeply interconnected and challenging, but remember…
Anything we’ve created, we can change.
These problems are not too big.
But where do we start?
Start with the only thing you have control over: yourself. Start with self-assessment of your own values. There are many free online resources to help guide you. If you value autonomy, money, and prestige-great! Now, ask yourself, “At what cost?”. Do I believe in autonomy to the point of abuse? Do I value prestige over safety of others? Finding your limits helps ground you for your next steps.
Now that you are armed with your own values as a guide, determine the values of your program/department/institution. Is there alignment or misalignment? Collaboration is key here. Different perspectives will help you gain a fair assessment of your organization’s values, so talk to your colleagues. It would be helpful if these colleagues were diverse in a multitude of ways as they may notice implicit values you don’t. Is your department lacking diversity? Reach out to colleagues in different departments or even across institutions: the values that set the culture may be universal.
Now for the hard part - you must ask yourself in a moment of genuine honesty - Are my values, beliefs, attitudes, and behaviors contributing to a toxic/exclusive culture? Is the institution/department’s values, beliefs, attitudes, and behaviors contributing to a toxic/exclusive culture? It’s okay if there are incongruencies between where you are and where you want to be, as long as you are prepared to shift in order to align yourself with values that are supportive and inclusionary. Fight the temptation of becoming paralyzed with guilt or shame at your own shortcomings, as this only inhibits productive change. Instead focus on how best to align yourself with values that support the behaviors you wish to see in yourself and in your environment -that’s your goal.
Critical introspection is imperative. Without it, we will passively accept our participation and consequently reinforce the toxic aspects of academia. With it, we acknowledge the power and influence unchecked values, structure, and culture has on us all, and we better equip ourselves to create deeply meaningful change.
I genuinely believe that most people do not want to hurt others and we hold similar values in that regard. I also believe that many of us are out of alignment with our values; whether that is shown explicitly or implicitly through our compliance in harmful systems. This includes me. Critical introspection underlies this year’s theme for International Open Access Week, “Open for Whom? Equity in Open Knowledge” and motivated OpenCon organizers to use this year to reflect and rebuild their systems to center equity and inclusion. Their recognition in the importance of values-based decision-making serves as a powerful example for all of us: as we grow and evolve, we can always shift our practices to reflect what we think is important. This flexibility can happen any time; it is never too late as long as it happens with intention.
These problems are large but they are rooted within us through our values, beliefs, attitudes, and behavior, so it makes sense to start within ourselves. adrienne maree brown, author of Emergent Strategy, says that what we do on a small scale is reflected on a large scale. Molecules make the protein which makes the cells that makes the organisms that create the ecosystem, and so on. If you change all of the molecules, you change the ecosystem. If we remain open, reflective, and critical, we are engaging in the initial but most important steps of inclusion.
Note: This is cross-posted on the Open Access Week website at openaccessweek.org.
In this third blog post in our series about OpenCon’s code of conduct, we answer some of the recurring questions about the code and how it works in practice. You can find the first two posts in this series here and here. We will continue to look for opportunities to provide more information that can be useful both to the OpenCon community in better understanding our code of conduct and to other organizers in implementing their own codes.
Who is responsible for administering OpenCon’s Code of Conduct?
The OpenCon Code of Conduct Committee administers the community’s code of conduct. They receive reports, investigate when necessary, and determine the appropriate responses. They may seek guidance from experts, including the human resources department of SPARC’s fiscal sponsor, the New Venture Fund, and outside legal counsel. Ultimately, the committee makes the final decision about the most pertinent action to take, in line with the best interests of the OpenCon community. An overview of How We Respond to Reports is provided in the code of conduct itself.
It is crucial that organizational leadership is involved in the process of establishing and refining a code of conduct from the beginning and that the code of conduct—and the code of conduct committee—has their full support. OpenCon’s code of conduct policy and processes have been reviewed by and have the strong support of both the leadership of SPARC (of which OpenCon is a project) and the New Venture Fund.
OpenCon’s code of conduct contains significant detail. What is the thinking behind including details such as a specific list of prohibited behaviors or a description of the reporting process?
In our experience, it has been important to provide as much specificity as possible. Clear, detailed guidance increases the likelihood that inappropriate behavior will be reported and that the code of conduct committee can fulfill its role to provide as safe an environment as possible.
- For those considering submitting a report, understanding clearly what specific behaviors violate the code of conduct, the various mechanisms available to submit a report, and how the report will be handled can reduce uncertainty around whether to report and increase the comfort level with what the process will look like.
- In communicating with those accused of violating the code of conduct, more detailed policy language provides clearer guidelines on what is deemed inappropriate and can allow you to reference the behavior generally without getting into specifics of the report that may compromise the confidentiality of the reporter.
- For those responsible for reviewing and considering reports, having a detailed list of behaviors that violate the code provides better clarity on what behavior is inappropriate as well as a clear basis for action.
If a code of conduct violation is reported during an event, how does OpenCon appropriately handle a report while continuing to run the event?
The code of conduct committee (or whoever has the authority to implement the policy) should be prepared to appropriately handle and act upon any reports made, even in the midst of an intense event with urgent deadlines. Careful scenario planning will be key, especially considering that the team responsible for the event may have significant overlap with the team responsible for responding to reported violations.
We’ve found that it’s important to have a plan for properly handling code of conduct reports while continuing to run a successful event. Based on our experience, we recommend the following preparation:
- Delegate event-related responsibilities to other members not involved in the code of conduct process. Discuss this contingency before the event, and prepare those who may need to assume responsibility for running the event.
- Prepare checklists and a step-by-step process to follow. Train those who will implement the code of conduct and practice running through the steps necessary for addressing a variety of scenarios. Train all others involved in the event to handle receiving a report and to channel the report into your code of conduct process.
- Limit the scope of conversations by prioritizing urgent actions that need to be taken right away (for example, if immediate action is necessary for the wellbeing or safety of participants). Stay true to the process and do not rush decision-making.
- Reserve space that protects the privacy and confidentiality of all involved. This may include space for code of conduct committee discussions, a safe location for reporters, and/or a private area for interviews for those accused of violating the code and any witnesses. These spaces are ideally private (e.g. few windows) and located in different parts of the building or in different buildings altogether.
How does OpenCon handle reports of careless or insensitive speech or other inappropriate behavior that might be appropriately used as a learning experience for participants?
Beginning in 2016, we’ve incorporated a session we call “Open Reactions” into the OpenCon program. Led by a facilitator with the participation of a representative of the organizing team, the 10-minute discussion is held during a plenary session with all participants and invites live feedback about the experience. This creates space where participants are encouraged to raise concerns directly and, if appropriate, where organizers can discuss topics raised by code of conduct reports that were submitted.
For example, a keynote speaker or a question from a participant may have used insensitive language (for example, ableist language). Discussing the situation openly as a group may shed light on the impact of the behavior (or language) and its implications on others. While this group discussion won’t be appropriate for many cases, it can help cultivate a healthy environment where we challenge each other to improve and hold one another accountable in a positive way.
How does OpenCon handle reports where there might be limited information? For example, reports made anonymously or made years after the actual incident occurred that violated the Code?
The same process applies to all reports, regardless of whether they’re made anonymously or submitted after an event—even if significant time has elapsed between the incidence of inappropriate behavior and the actual report.
We take anonymous reports seriously. We believe it’s important to emphasize this and have a process for anonymous reporting in the code of conduct itself, as some may only be comfortable submitting a report anonymously. Anonymity may inhibit the committee’s ability to investigate and could affect what actions can be taken; however, anonymous reports are far better than reports that aren’t submitted at all.
There is no statute of limitations for when a report must be submitted in order for it to be acted upon. While it can be more challenging to investigate and ultimately take action on a report made long after the incident, we take each matter seriously and will follow our process. Code of conduct cases that have previously been considered closed may be reopened and further action considered if additional evidence is reported.
What actions could the OpenCon Code of Conduct Committee take in response to a report?
The text of OpenCon’s code of conduct includes a list of potential sanctions for those who violate the code of conduct.
If deemed appropriate, the OpenCon Code of Conduct Committee may take further action in response to reports. For example, the committee can choose to disclose the identity of individuals removed from the community for violating the code of conduct. In such cases, the committee will not publicly disclose the names of those reporting violations or any details of the reports, due to OpenCon’s commitment to provide as much confidentiality as possible to those making reports.
How does OpenCon support those making reports?
We are committed to protecting the privacy and confidentiality of those who report code of conduct violations and to supporting them throughout the process. We recognize the emotional toll of the experience and the process as it unfolds.
If the report happens at an event, we offer to contact a friend or close acquaintance on-site who may be able to provide support. If the reporter does not feel safe, we will make every effort to provide escorts or otherwise assist those experiencing harassment to feel protected. If some level of coordination is needed (e.g. moving accommodations, scheduling interviews), we try to offer a liaison between the reporter and the code of conduct committee.
In addition, we ask reporters about their preferences on how much and how often they wish to be kept apprised of the process and ensure they are comfortable with the way it’s being handled.
Responding to every unique code of conduct report will take time, energy, and a steadfast commitment to the implementation process. We believe this work is an essential part of responsible event and community organizing, and necessary for creating a healthy environment that is as safe as possible. We hope that this information about our approach can be helpful to others in considering their own policies and processes; however, we also recognize that the context in which this work is done is important and our approach won’t necessarily be appropriate or optimal for everyone.
We are eager to help others who are doing the important work of creating and strengthening codes of conduct for their event or organization. If it would be useful to discuss any of the above or how to establish your own code of conduct process, send us an email at nick (at) sparcopen.org.
We also welcome comments and suggestions on the code of conduct. These should be sent to joe(at)sparcopen.org or added as comments on our public Github issue regarding the OpenCon Code of Conduct.
The safety of the OpenCon community is always our top priority. If at any time you need to make a report, you can submit one through our reporting form, or if you would prefer to remain anonymous, please use our anonymous form.
Today, we’re announcing a shift in how SPARC supports OpenCon to reflect the OpenCon community’s evolution. Instead of hosting a global conference in 2019, we will focus on laying the long-term foundation for the OpenCon community, and will host a reconfigured global meeting in 2020. This decision was driven by the community’s commitment to put equity at the core of its work and represents the culmination of OpenCon’s first five years.
Since launching in 2014, OpenCon has grown from an idea into a global community of next generation leaders working to make research and education more open and equitable. Driven by these emerging leaders, OpenCon has evolved into a global network that has now hosted events in 44 countries and 24 unique languages, reaching more than 9,500 participants. Community members have helped advance open policies at all levels, launched projects and organizations, built new tools, and fostered the adoption of open practices in their local communities. Throughout these efforts, OpenCon’s community has made it clear that equity is essential and inclusion is non-negotiable, and that these values must be built into the foundation of this work—not added on afterward.
From the beginning, the aspirations for open research and open education have been connected to equity: the idea that open systems can be fairer than closed ones and should be explicitly built to address the causes of marginalization. As open research and open education transition from aspiration to implementation, we have an unprecedented opportunity. In redesigning systems for creating and sharing knowledge to be open, we can address deep inequities in the current system.
The decisions we make now—as individuals and organizations—and the values those decisions reflect will determine whether the promise of creating fundamentally inclusive systems is delivered or deferred. Openness can enable equity, but does not ensure it. Equity can only be achieved by design, with accountability, and in partnership with those who have been excluded.
Pursuing this opportunity for equitable, open systems for research and education has become the focus of the OpenCon community. The next generation leaders have taught us that the current time of transition isn’t just a bridge to what comes next. It will define the contours of what the future will look like and what is possible, and we cannot wait to act. Over the next year, we will prioritize aligning how we support the OpenCon community with this focus, a process that will require deep engagement with both the OpenCon network as well as established projects and organizations committed to this work.
The structure of the next global OpenCon meeting will reflect this shift. In the second half of 2020, we will bring OpenCon’s international network of emerging leaders together with more established community leaders to explore ways to advance open research and education that put equity at the core. The goal is to move from conversations to commitments and to create accountability in making progress together.
The OpenCon community represents a global network of leaders who are well placed to assist institutions and projects committed to equity. They can serve as a conduit with underrepresented groups to address inclusion and provide the expertise and feedback necessary for organizations to review their own actions and make internal changes in this area. We will engage OpenCon’s robust network of community-hosted events and calls to catalyze local conversations around the world ahead of the next global meeting, with the goal of surfacing local priorities to weave into the discussions and actions at the 2020 event.
Evolving how we sustain OpenCon over the long term is also a priority. Since its start, OpenCon has relied on annual sponsorships for core support. The generous support from dozens of institutions and organizations has made OpenCon possible to this point, and the flexibility of this model has helped OpenCon to evolve; however, this model also has limitations. Over the next year, we will also focus on developing a long-term sustainability plan to provide the support the community needs.
This is just the beginning of the conversation we hope to have about what’s next for OpenCon, and the community’s input throughout this work will be essential. To start this process, we will have two open calls to provide more context on this shift for OpenCon and to begin to get feedback from the community. The first will take place at 16:00 GMT on August 21st (timezone translator here | register here) followed by a second at 09:00 GMT on August 22nd (timezone translator here | register here).
We’ve seen firsthand the leadership the next generation is already providing in building systems for research and education that are equitable by default, and we believe there is nothing more important than supporting this leadership to make progress together. We hope you will join us.