OpenCon 2015: Help us build a strong meeting and an open community

The following is a guest post from Erin McKiernan, postdoctoral fellow at Wilfrid Laurier University in Canada, visiting scholar at the National Autonomous University of Mexico, and OpenCon organizing committee member.

OpenCon 2015: Help us build a strong meeting and an open community

Erin C. McKiernan

Around the world, there is growing awareness that lack of access to the academic literature, unavailable research data, and high-cost educational materials are serious problems impeding learning, research, and innovation. Increasingly, students and early-career researchers are becoming passionate and effective advocates for change.

In November of 2014, we held the first OpenCon meeting in Washington, DC. Over 100 students and early-career researchers from 39 countries attended to learn more about how to practice and advocate for Open Access, Open Data, and Open Education. On the closing day, they took their new-found confidence and advocacy skills to Capitol Hill and spoke with policy makers. The energy generated at the meeting was incredible. There was the distinct feeling that this marked a turning point in open advocacy – a moment we would all later look back on and say proudly, “I was there.” Researchers committed at the meeting to making their own work open. Students organized, went back to their universities and enacted Open Access policies. As attendee Jon Tennant aptly put it, “[OpenCon] wasn’t so much an event, as a milestone”. Peter Murray-Rust wrote, “The revolution is launched”. Read more from OpenCon attendees here.

OpenCon 2014 group photo. Credit: Aloysius Wilfred Raj, CC BY

OpenCon 2014 group photo. Credit: Aloysius Wilfred Raj, CC BY

Importantly, the revolution didn’t just start with a bang and then fizzle out. The OpenCon community has grown through an active discussion list, public community calls and webcasts, and blossoming collaborative projects. We hope this year’s meeting will be even better, bringing in new students and researchers with fresh motivation and ideas, and bringing back alumni that have advanced excellent advocacy projects. Our goal is to empower the next generation of researchers not only to enact change in the short-term but to be the people who eventually bring about long-term culture change and establish sharing literature, data, and educational materials as the norm.

The success of OpenCon 2014 was directly related to the strength, energy, and passion of the attendees. So, this year we need your help to ensure that the 2015 applicant pool is just as strong or stronger, and that we keep building our open community.

Applications open!

Applications to attend OpenCon 2015 on November 14-16 in Brussels, Belgium are now open! The application is available on the OpenCon website at and includes the opportunity to apply for a travel scholarship to cover the cost of travel and accommodations. Applications will close on June 22nd at 11:59pm PDT.

OpenCon seeks to bring together the most capable, motivated students and early career academic professionals from around the world to advance Open Access, Open Education, and Open Data —regardless of their ability to cover travel costs. In 2014, more than 80% of attendees received support. Due to this, attendance at OpenCon is by application only.

Students and early career academic professionals of all experience levels are encouraged to apply. We want to support those who have ideas for new projects and initiatives in addition to those who are already leading them. The most important thing is an interest in advancing Open Access, Open Education, and Open Data and a commitment to taking action. We also hope to use applications to connect applicants with opportunities for collaboration, local events in your area, and scholarship opportunities to attend other relevant conferences.

OpenCon is equal parts conference and community. The meeting in Brussels serves as the centerpiece of a much larger network to foster initiatives and collaboration among the next generation across OpenCon’s issue areas. Become an active part of the community by joining our discussion list, tuning in for our monthly community calls and webcasts, or hosting an OpenCon satellite event in your community.

Apply now, and join the OpenCon community today!


About OpenCon:

Hosted by the Right to Research Coalition and SPARC, OpenCon 2015 will bring together students and early career academic professionals from across the world to learn about the issues, develop critical skills, and return home ready to catalyze action toward a more open system for sharing the world’s information — from scholarly and scientific research, to educational materials, to digital data. OpenCon 2015 will be held on November 14-16 in Brussels, Belgium.

OpenCon 2015’s three day program will begin with two days of conference-style keynotes, panels, and interactive workshops, drawing both on the expertise of leaders in the Open Access, Open Education and Open Data movements and the experience of participants who have already led successful projects.

The third day will take advantage of the location in Brussels by providing a half-day of advocacy training followed by the opportunity for in-person meetings with relevant policy makers, ranging from the European Parliament, European Commission, embassies, and key NGOs. Participants will leave with a deeper understanding of the conference’s three issue areas, stronger skills in organizing local and national projects, and connections with policymakers and prominent leaders across the three issue areas.

OpenCon 2015 builds on the success of the first-ever OpenCon meeting last year which convened 115 students and early career academic professionals from 39 countries in Washington, DC.

Speakers at OpenCon 2014 included the Deputy Assistant to the President of the United States for Legislative Affairs, the Chief Commons Officer of Sage Bionetworks, the Associate Director for Data Science for the U.S. National Institutes of Health, and more than 15 students and early career academic professionals leading successful initiatives. OpenCon 2015 will again feature leading experts, and the program will be announced in the coming months.