OpenCon: Students And Early-Career Researchers For Open Access, Open Education, And Open Data

Abby Clobridge | Information Today, Inc. | December 2, 2014

OpenCon, the first full conference for students and early-career researchers that’s focused on the open knowledge trifecta—open access (OA), open education, and open data—was anything but a typical event. During his welcoming remarks, Michael W. Carroll (professor of law and director of the Program on Information Justice and Intellectual Property at American University and a founding member of Creative Commons) set the tone for the whole meeting and pushed participants to think that “open isn’t just about the technicalities of using open licenses and open policies. At the core, it’s about the values.” He challenged attendees to think about the connection between OA and human rights: “[It’s] a deeper human rights analysis about equality—that every researcher ought to get access to research,” and that this belief leads to a deeper commitment to OA. He explained that “there will be compromises and darkness, so you need to have a good handle on what your value is. You can’t just think Open Access is a good idea—you have to believe it.”

The event was organized by the Right to Research Coalition (R2RC) and SPARC (Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition) and was held Nov. 15–17 at American University’s Washington College of Law in Washington, D.C. The event brought together a high-energy and enthusiastic group of approximately 115 students and early-career researchers (with around 150 participants in total) from around the world to learn, share, and advocate for openness. Thirty-seven countries across all continents (except Antarctica) were represented by the attendees; more than half of the participants were from outside of the U.S. Also unusual: Nearly all of the speakers paid their own way, while many of the students and early-career researchers’ expenses were covered by the conference’s sponsors...