Science Online London

Earlier this month I attended Science Online London at the British Library (3rd and 4th of September). The conference was hosted by Mendeley, Nature Network (Nature Publishing Group), and the British Library, an interesting collaboration. The theme was “How is the web changing science?” Attendees included academics (predominately from the sciences), science journalist, science bloggers, publishers (including OA publishers), service providers (e.g.CiteULike, Mendeley), and to a lesser extent library and information professionals. A colleague and I manned a stand and attended sessions. Twitter had a major presence, with a “Twitterfall” following the conference hash tag(s) (there was even some dispute over which was the official #soloconf or #solo10) projected on a screen in most sessions.

I talked to a lot of people and most conversations eventually led to a general discussion of open access. Most people had some knowledge of OA and generally knew and agreed with the main arguments, though many people were concerned with the cost of OA (in the form of OA journals), and seemed to be unaware of the alternative OA pathway of repositories and self-archiving. Other topics of discussion included: FP7 and OA, the semantic web, and etheses. Open data was also clearly a hot topic.

Martin Rees gave the opening keynote titled How the web is changing science: A reader and author’s perspective. He was an excellent speaker and focused mostly on the current status of academic publishing and OA. He said almost everything that a supporter of OA could want a speaker to say, and set an appropriate tone for the conference.

Another session of note was the “unconference” session about Open Access. The discussion often strayed to topics including the problems with peer-review and impact factor (see Cameron Neylons blogpost here), and the dissatisfaction with the current methods used for tenure and promotion. A need for policy change was identified, though people seemed fairly confident that the academic publishing system would break, and change within 5 years. It is good to know that a session on OA no longer means defining OA and describing its benefits, but instead easily moves onto underlying scholarly communication issues and the changes that need to take place perhaps before OA will become widespread.

Image credit: Ian Mulvany


About Willow Fuchs
Willow is based at the Centre for Research Communications at the University of Nottingham, where she works as an Open Access Adviser on the NECOBELAC and OpenAIRE projects. She has previously worked on the JISC funded Repositories Support Project and JISC funded Research Communications Strategy project.

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