Monday, 24 June 2013

OAI8 - What I heard, talked about and learnt



I spent three days last week at the 8th CERN Workshop on Innovations in Scholarly Communication, known as OAI8, in Geneva. The conference runs every two years and I attended once before in 2011. This year saw a record attendance of over 300 librarians, academics, information scientists and other interested parties. The event manages to feel more like a big workshop than other familiar information conferences, and attracts varied speakers and participants. Among the things it does especially well:
  • Encouraging sharing and asking of questions. From the tradition that everyone bring a drink from their own country to the café style workshops that encourage people to learn something new, sharing of experience is central to the appeal and value of OAI. 
  • Being international. Simple really – no national agendas lead here. The thinking is macro-level and all better for it. 
I attended pretty much every available session apart from one morning where an extra half an hour with a coffee and croissant were too irresistible. Highlights from the programme are easy to pick out:
  • Open Access Café – a great format that gives small groups time to discuss a particular issue with genuine experts. I spent time with University of Glasgow’s William Nixon, RLUK’s David Prosser and Dr. Rupert Gatti of Open Book Publishers and the University of Cambridge, who all shared their insights on repository development, Open Access advocacy and the potential of OA monographs respectively. 
  • Plenary 5: Arts, Humanities, and Social Sciences – Perhaps the highlight of the whole conference. An excellent session, which put disciplines often starved of attention in Open Access discussions right in the limelight. The discussions on the humanities in and for the digital age, open monographs and opening up the World Bank were provocative and vibrant. This bodes well for the forthcoming Open Access Monographs in the Humanities and Social Sciences Conference at the British Library.
  • Metrics – all three sessions here were good but I'd particularly recommend Johan Bollen's overview of this super fast moving area. Check out his 'metrics cubed' diagram (snapped here by Natalia Madjarevic).
  • Research Data: the overview of research data policies by Dr. Wolfram Horstmann was excellent, and Kevin Ashley provided food for thought on what different people want from research data.
My key takeaways and interpretations from this very enjoyable event:
  • Libraries need to do TONS more on making excellent OA research books discoverable. Thanks to Rupert Gatti and Marin Dacos for reminding us.
  • Open Access = global readership. We seem to forget about this but I think we should be saying any chance we get.
  • Gold Open Access and Article Processing Charges are not the same thing – other models are available! The lessons we learnt we to think creatively, think about value for money and be flexible.
  • (Open) Access and Reuse are not the same thing. I think we should be wary of letting issues or enabling reuse slow down the progress towards access.
If you are looking for an event that goes beyond detailed discussion of repository software, that nourishes collaborative efforts, and will inspire you to support innovation in scholarly communications, then I can highly recommend that you put OAI9 on your 2015 horizon. 

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Other minor OAI things to share:
  • CERN is amazing. If you ever get to visit Genva go and see the Globe - they do tours.
  • The conference back-channel was so good someone archived it (of course): http://t.co/LcRB7QDCDn.
  • Photographs including images of your author standing around, waving his arms at people and drinking coffee can be found here.

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