This past Saturday a group of enthusiastic Open Access advocates met to attend OpenCon 2016 Toronto held at TWG (The Working Group) on Adelaide St. in Toronto. Lorraine Chuen, Co-Founder of OOO Canada Research Network hosted the event.
Open Access and Social Justice: Aligning Open Access with the Mission of the Public University
The first speaker of the day was Leslie Chan, Senior Lecturer in the Department of Arts, Culture and Media and the Centre for Critical Development Studies at the University of Toronto, Scarborough. His talk discussed shifting the narrative of Open Access from showcasing an institution’s research output to using it for public good. Chan pointed out that changing this narrative is difficult in an era of metrics, marketing and recruitment as there is a disconnect between the stated mission of public good and the tendency to favour rankings as a yardstick.
The second part of his talk focused on the tyranny of journal articles, their format – a relatively recent development perpetuated by the major journal publishers to facilitate sales, the insidious nature of impact factors, and the focus on the discovery aspect of research.
Chan also discussed new models of access that can help address the inequity not just of access but also of knowledge dissemination. This interesting map used in the presentation graphically illustrates the imbalance in contributions to scientific research:
Contributions to Science Research
Beyond Free: Harnessing the Resonant Value in Open and Collaborative Practices for Public Good
David Porter, the new CEO of eCampus Ontario, gave a talk that highlighted many existing Open Educational Resource (OER) initiatives and outlined plans for developing an OER textbook platform in Ontario (by reviewing and importing the BCcampus Open Textbooks) and engaging faculty here.
Beyond the economic benefits to students of free textbooks, Porter outlined five other benefits:
- Teachers have full legal control to customize and contextualize learning resources for their students
- Access to customized resources improves learning (by providing choices for students)
- Opportunities for authentic learning activities (student contributions to learning)
- Collegial collaboration
- Demonstration of the service mission of the institution
For those interested in attending more Open events, Porter mentioned the following:
- eCampus Ontario Faculty event to be held at OCADU on March 27, 2017
- CC Global Summit April 28-30, 2017, Toronto
- ORION Think: Open Conference, May 24, 2017, Toronto
Porter’s slides and notes are available on SlideShare:
After lunch there were several lightning sessions highlighting various open initiatives:
Dr. Rachel Harding talked about making her research into Huntington’s disease open by blogging about her findings on Lab Scribbles where she reports on her research in real time and by posting and licensing her data under Creative Commons on zenodo. She has found that this practice has led to other researchers sharing their work with her reducing the amount of time required for her research.
Wes Kerfoot, a recent philosophy graduate from McMaster, talked about and demoed his software, Textbook Commons, that he built to help students find public domain copies of course readings and texts.
Karen Young, recently graduated from the University of Toronto, spoke about Student Participation in the Open Access Movement and it Applications for Mental Health and how in this sphere Open Access not only benefits the researcher but also those facing mental health challenges while pursuing higher education.
University of Toronto Culture and New Media Professor, Alessandro Delfanti talked about academic social media sites, Academia.edu and ResearchGate, that faculty members use to disseminate their research. He mentioned both the positive and negative aspects of these sites. While using these sites to post research does make it more accessible there are issues such as the opaque algorithms that generate scores, the proprietary nature of the software, and the danger of publishers purchasing the sites and their content.
Open Access in the Creative Disciplines
The final formal conference session was given by Chris Landry, Scholarly Communications Librarian at OCADU. His talk, Open Access in the Creative Disciplines, focused on some of the challenges of Open Access in the arts. He also talked about the difficulties of making content available through institutional repositories as most institutions only encourage contribution to these repositories and it is a rare few such as Harvard that require faculty members to opt out of participation.
The day wrapped up with a one-hour unconference focusing on the following topics:
Building a Open Education Movement for Student Leaders in Ontario
Facilitator: Chris Fernlund (eCampus Ontario)
Open Access and Social Justice
Facilitator: Dr. Leslie Chan
Open Access and Social Justice Session Notes
Reproducible Research & Open Science Tools
Facilitators: Mike Galang & Rachel Harding