All posts by Annie Johnson

Faculty Support of Open Data: An Interview with Sergei Pond

Headshot of Sergei Pond

This week is Open Access Week, a yearly international celebration that aims to increase awareness about open access. Most academic work is locked up behind a paywall, available only to those who are affiliated with a college or university. Open access scholarship is completely free to read and reuse.

Professor of Evolutionary Genomics Sergei Pond is one of the many Temple faculty members who support open research practices. Pond recently spoke with Librarian Sarah Jones to discuss his work and his thoughts on how open data can help with the current reproducibility crisis.

Tell us about your recent research on COVID-19. What role did open data play in your work? 

My group at Temple (Institute for Genomics and Evolutionary Medicine) is a computational biology group. We use sequence data to watch what the virus is doing and evaluate how certain intervention efforts are going. Sequence data have never been generated at a faster pace than during the COVID-19 outbreak. As of today, around 130,000 SARS-CoV-2 genomes are available. In March there were 500. The rate of accumulation is really remarkable.

We’ve done a lot of collaborative work to look at the early evolution of SARS-CoV-2. Viral genomes change all the time; the trick is to figure out which changes matter and which ones don’t. At this moment, there are some changes but none that appear to be particularly important. Once we start giving it something to work against, like large scale drugs and vaccines, then we’ll watch it.

Something the public may not appreciate is that you have to do a lot of tedious work to make sure that the data you’re analyzing makes sense. You have to clean it up and make sure that your tools run fast enough. One of the issues everyone has run across is the volume of data–typically you’re talking about hundreds or maybe thousands of sequences, but tens or hundreds of thousands brings it up to a different scale. One of the issues with these large datasets is that they’re so big and the techniques that you use tend to be fairly complicated, so it turns into this hard-to-interpret black box. We’re trying to design something that’s easy to understand.

You recently published an article on the lack of data sharing in COVID-19 research. What problems do you see this causing? Which open tools and practices would you like to see adopted? 

Ideally, what you would like to be able to access are the original files that came off the sequencer. Typically what you see is the final genome; it’s a product of many steps that translate these data from raw sequencing data to genomes. It’s been the bane of computational biology that it’s not very common to share the original data. More importantly, it is next to impossible to find sufficient detail about how people went about processing these data to generate the genome. So basically you receive a genome but you’re missing how it was assembled. This is what creates the crisis of reproducibility. You have to be able to trust the data that you’re putting into your analyses.

There’s absolutely no excuse with modern tool availability not to publish the entire chain. If you’re an experimental scientist and you don’t publish your lab protocol nobody will believe it; it has to be recreatible. But in computational analysis there’s no standard like this. There’s no expectation that you will release the data and the tools that you used to analyse these data.

Tell us about your work with the Galaxy Project. How does this platform encourage open practices? 

Galaxy is a computational framework for open data and democratizing data analysis. Every step from extracting raw data to doing comparative analysis can be done in Galaxy. I think the strongest aspect of it is the longstanding focus on the reproducibility and shareability of research. When you develop a process for doing something, you can publish it and share it. It will record which tools you used, which settings, and how they were connected to each other. Each step you can store and share, so when you publish your work you instantly release your entire workflow.

Are there any misconceptions that you would like to address regarding open data? What do you wish people knew about it? 

There are a few things that tend to slow down or prevent people from doing open data and sharing. One, the logistics of it: will you find the time to annotate and format everything correctly and submit it? That excuse is becoming harder to use because there are large entities that have databases and tools that allow you to do this as easily as possible.

The other issue is data ownership. If you release open data it will be good for science, it will be good for discovery, and it will enable other people to extract more information from it. But as a data producer, how do you get proper credit for it? As a scientist you get rewarded for publishing papers and bringing in grants, but for being a good citizen of the open community, it’s not there.

I want to mention the idea of privacy. Human genomic data is personal health information, which needs to be guarded and protected. Viral data are a little different, you can’t track them down to specific individuals. But nonetheless, that could be a concern. It definitely is a concern in the area of HIV because in many jurisdictions in the United States HIV transmission is still a felony. That’s changing, but it’s still there. You don’t want to have a potential disclosure of an infection route.

Is there anything else you wanted to share? 

I want to emphasize that SARS-CoV-2 genomics has been a unique effort when it comes to collaboration and open science. It’s not ideal and we can improve on it, but compared to previous outbreaks this is probably the most open environment that we’ve had. It’s obviously a necessity, considering how much damage this pandemic has already caused. A truly international, truly open effort is necessary.

Fortunately, a lot of it was set up prior to SARS-CoV-2. There are people that took the time and strategically thought about how they could accelerate all of the necessary steps when the next big pathogen came out, and we’re reaping the benefits now. That really is important and worth emphasizing. That would not have happened without planning.

Thank you Dr. Pond!

2019-2020 Recipients of the OA Publishing Fund

open sign

“A sign of our times” by clickit07 is licensed under CC BY 2.0.

We are pleased to announce the 2019-2020 recipients of the Open Access Publishing Fund. Congrats to all!

William Aaronson and Hamlet Gasoyan (College of Public Health, Health Services Administration and Policy). “School-Based Preventive Dental Program in Rural Communities of the Republic of Armenia.”

Ashish Bains, Linda Vien, and Ho-Man Yeung (Lewis Katz School of Medicine, Pathology and Laboratory Medicine). “Primary Extranodal Jejunal Diffuse Large B cell Lymphoma as a Diagnostic Challenge for Intractable Emesis: A Case Report and Review of Literature.”

Sarah Bass and Mohammed Alhaji (College of Public Health, Social and Behavioral Sciences). “Cyberbullying, mental health, and violence in adolescents and associations with sex and race: Data from the 2015 Youth Risk Behavior Survey.”

Marion Chan, Xiaofeng Yang, Hong Wang, Fatma Saaoud, and Yu Sun (Lewis Katz School of Medicine, Microbiology and Immunology). “The Microbial Metabolite Trimethylamine N-Oxide Links Vascular Dysfunctions and the Autoimmune Disease Rheumatoid Arthritis.”

Eunice Chen and Susan Murphy (College of Liberal Arts, Psychology). “Examining Adolescence as a Sensitive Period for High-Fat, High-Sugar Diet Exposure: A Systematic Review of the Animal Literature.”

Amy Freestone and Katherine Papacostas (College of Science and Technology, Biology). “Multi-trophic native and non-native prey naiveté shape marine invasion success.”

Victor Hugo Gutierrez, Daniel Wiese, Ananias A. Escalante, Heather Murphy, and Kevin A. Henry (College of Liberal Arts, Environmental Studies). “Integrating environmental and neighborhood factors in MaxEnt modeling to predict species distributions: a case study of Aedes albopictus in southeastern Pennsylvania.”

Christine Jones, Alexis Los, Richard Tyrell, and Scott Golarz (Lewis Katz School of Medicine, Surgery). “Reducing Wound Hemorrhage: Use of Bilayer Collagen Matrix in Chronic Myelogenous Leukemia.”

Jeremy Mennis and Xavier Nogueira (College of Liberal Arts, Environmental Studies). “The Effect of Historic Paving Materials on Traffic Speed.”

David Smith, Tommy H. Ng, and Lauren Alloy (College of Liberal Arts, Psychology). “Meta-analysis of Reward Processing in Major Depressive Disorder Reveals Distinct Abnormalities within the Reward Circuit.”

John Sorrentino and Donald Wargo (College of Liberal Arts, Economics). “Residential Land Use Change in the Wissahickon Creek Watershed: Profitability and Sustainability?”

Roy Stevens and Hongming Zhang (Kornberg School of Dentistry). “The Prevalence and Impact of Lysogeny Among Oral Isolates of Enterococcus faecalis

Won Suh and Weili Ma (College of Engineering, Bioengineering). “A Novel Cell Penetrating Peptide for the Differentiation of Human Neural Stem Cells.”

Interested in applying for the OA Publishing Fund? The 2020-2021 application can be found here.

2020 Call for Proposals: Temple-Faculty Authored Open Textbooks

North Broad Press is excited to launch our spring 2020 call for open textbook proposals. We’re looking for faculty members to author or edit open textbooks in their fields of study. All Temple University faculty are eligible to apply. Faculty whose proposals are selected will receive a stipend of $5,000.

The application is available here. The deadline for proposals is April 3, 2020. All applicants will be notified by April 24, 2020.

About us
North Broad Press is a joint publishing project between Temple University Press and Temple University Libraries. We publish works of scholarship, both new and reissued, from the Temple University community. Examples include open textbooks written, edited, or compiled by Temple faculty; previously out-of-print books written by Temple faculty or published by the Press; and born digital projects produced by Temple faculty or staff.

Check out our latest open textbook: Structural Analysis by Felix Udoeyo.

What is an open textbook?
An open textbook is a textbook licensed under a Creative Commons license and made available online to be freely used by students, teachers, and members of the public. Print-on-demand copies are also made available at cost. Open textbooks save students money and improve learning outcomes by ensuring that all students have access to their textbook on the first day of class.

What does the work involve?
As author, the faculty member is responsible for writing the text, finding and/or creating suitable images and figures, and clearing any necessary permissions. As editor, the faculty member is responsible for finding contributors, ensuring content requirements and deadlines are met, communicating feedback, and writing an introduction for the volume. Faculty members will keep the copyright to their book and will be able to choose the Creative Commons license that best suits the project.

Will this be peer reviewed?
Yes! All North Broad Press projects go through the peer review process to ensure the accuracy, effectiveness, and appropriateness of the text.

Have questions about your proposal or would like to discuss it before submitting? Please contact Mary Rose Muccie and Alicia Pucci.

Why Temple Researchers Publish OA

promotional banner for open access week

This week is Open Access Week, a yearly international celebration that aims to increase awareness about open access (scholarship that is free to read and reuse). Most academic work is locked up behind a paywall, available only to those who are affiliated with a college or university. Many Temple faculty members and graduate students choose to publish in open access journals in order to make their work more widely available to readers around the world.

The Libraries support open access publishing by Temple researchers through our Open Access Publishing Fund. When faculty and graduate students apply for the fund, we ask them why they have chosen to publish open access. Here are a few of the responses we have received this year:

“I prefer to publish open access because it increases accessibility and visibility. With an open access publication, I can be confident that my lab’s work will be accessible to everyone, free of charge and without having to wait for an embargo period.”
-David Smith, Assistant Professor, Psychology

“The open access nature of the journal is well-suited to our article, which addresses traffic calming via the use of non-asphalt materials for paving road surfaces, making streets safer for pedestrians, bicyclists, and motorized vehicles. Such paving materials are more common in the developing world, which was noted by one of the article reviewers. Publishing in an open access journal enhances access to the article by scholars in developing countries, where access to more conventional academic journals may be restricted due to cost or other barriers.”
-Jeremy Mennis, Professor, Environmental Studies

“This research is about the ecology of invasive species, which are an increasingly urgent problem that affect natural systems across the globe. It is important to make this research accessible to the scientific community and other non-academic stakeholders who are studying or affected by invasive species.”
-Amy Freestone, Associate Professor, Biology

“It is good to publish in an open-access journal because this format allows broader sharing of our studies. In addition, being digital, online article is published faster than the traditional journal article that takes over 4-6 months for printing an issue. Being open access, everyone worldwide can read our article without having to afford a costly subscription.”
-Marion Chan, Associate Professor, Lewis Katz School of Medicine

“The study aims to assess the relative importance of both environmental and socioeconomic neighborhood factors in the prediction of A. albopictus’ (one of the main transmitters of Zika virus) presence in Southeast Pennsylvania using MaxEnt (open source software) machine-learning algorithm. The study uses exclusively free available data and software to provide knowledge about the main drivers and current distribution of a vector species in South East Pennsylvania. This knowledge is relevant not only for academia but for others professionals working or interested on mosquito prevention planning such as public health officials. The free availability of this publication will provide access for these stakeholders to information that otherwise would be restricted for general use. We believe that publication in an open access journal will boost the impact of the article within and beyond academia.”
-Daniel Wiese, PhD student, Geography and Urban Studies

“The paper presents a school-based preventive dental program in the Republic of Armenia, as well as its results and recommendations to local stakeholders. In this middle-income country, most of the universities and public institutions do not have institutional access to mainstream academic journals. Publishing open access will allow readers in Armenia and in other low-income settings to get access to this paper and possibly replicate the intervention and its results.”
-Hamlet Gasoyan, PhD student, College of Public Health

2019-2020 OA Publishing Fund

**Please note: as of 10/30/19 the OA Publishing Fund has been exhausted for the 2019-2020 year. We will have more funds beginning on July 1, 2020.**

We are excited to announce that the Libraries will continue our Open Access Publishing Fund in 2019-2020. The fund is open to all current Temple faculty members. Current postdoctoral fellows, residents, and graduate students may also apply, as long as there is at least one faculty member listed as a co-author on the article.

Authors with a journal article that has been accepted or is under consideration by an open access publisher are encouraged to apply. Authors simply fill out a brief application with their information, a copy of the article, and a copy of the journal acceptance letter (if available). Funds will be available on a first come, first served basis. The Libraries will aim to make a final decision regarding the application within two weeks’ time. If the request is approved, Libraries will transfer funds to authors’ research fund or departmental account. The Libraries cannot reimburse authors or pay publishers directly.

Applicant Eligibility

  • Applicants must be a current Temple University faculty member OR a current postdoctoral fellow/resident/graduate student with a faculty member listed as a co-author.
  • Applicants with external grant funding that could cover, either in whole or in part, the cost of any publication and processing fees are ineligible.
  • Applicants must agree to deposit a copy of their publication in our Digital Library, or any future library repository.

Publication Eligibility

  • The publication must take the form of a peer-reviewed journal article.
  • Many subscription journals now offer an open access option in which authors can choose to pay a fee to make their article open access. These publications are sometimes called “hybrid” open access journals. Articles in “hybrid” journals are not supported.
  • The journal must be listed in the Directory of Open Access Journals (DOAJ). The DOAJ is a community-curated online directory that indexes high quality, open access, peer-reviewed journals.
  • The publisher must be a member of the Open Access Scholarly Publishing Association (OASPA), or clearly follow the membership criteria of the organization.
  • Because the Libraries already cover 50% of the APC for BioMed Central journals, these journals are not eligible.

Additional Limitations

  • Each applicant may request up to $1,500 total per fiscal year. This amount may be split across multiple applications so long as funds are available.
  • For articles with multiple Temple authors, the per article payment is capped at $3,000.
  • Funding will cover publication and processing fees only. Funds may not be used for reprints, color illustration fees, non-open access page charges, permissions fees, web hosting for self-archiving, or other expenses not directly related to open access fees.
  • For applicants who have not yet submitted for publication, requests will be conditionally approved awaiting official acceptance by the publisher. All conditional approvals will expire six months after notification. Applicants must provide a copy of the acceptance letter before the invoice is processed.
  • Fees are pro-rated for multi-authored articles. Co-authors from outside of Temple are not supported. If an article includes non-Temple authors, the APC will be divided equally among all authors and then the Temple authors’ portion will be funded. For example, if the APC is $2000, and there are four authors, two of whom are from Temple, the authors can apply for $1000 from the fund ($500 each).

Attribution Requirement

  • Authors who receive support must include the following statement in their acknowledgements: Publication of this article was funded in part by the Temple University Libraries Open Access Publishing Fund.

Download a copy of the application form here.

Questions? Contact Mary Rose Muccie (maryrose.muccie@temple.edu) or Annie Johnson (annie.johnson@temple.edu).

Note: The image above, “Open Access Publishing Fund,” is a derivative of “Open Access at CC” by Amy Collier for Creative Commons, and is used under CC BY 4.0. “Open Access Publishing Fund” is licensed under CC BY 4.0 by Annie Johnson.

2018-2019 Recipients of the OA Publishing Fund

picture of open arrow sign

“Open”by “Caveman Chuck” Coker is licensed under CC BY-ND 2.0

We are pleased to announce the 2018-2019 recipients of the Open Access Publishing Fund. Congrats to all!

Jocelyn Behm, Brianna DiMarco, Christian Irian, Kelley Langhans, Kathleen McGrath, Tyler J. Tran and Matthew Helmus (College of Science and Technology, Biology). “First records of the mourning gecko (Lepidodactylus lugubris Duméril and Bibron, 1836), common house gecko (Hemidactylus frenatus in Duméril, 1836), and Tokay gecko (Gekko gecko Linnaeus, 1758) on Curaçao, Dutch Antilles, and remarks on their Caribbean distributions.”

Megan Heere, Beth Moughan, Stephen Aronoff, Joseph Alfonsi, and Jennifer Rodriguez (Lewis Katz School of Medicine, Clinical Pediatrics). “Effect of Education and Cardboard Bassinet Distribution on Newborn Bed-Sharing.”

Albert Kim (College of Engineering, Electrical and Computer Engineering). “An Implantable Ultrasonically-Powered Micro-Light-Source (µLight) for Photodynamic Therapy.”

Ravi Kudesia (Fox School of Business, Human Resource Management). “Does interacting with trustworthy people enhance mindfulness? An experience sampling study of mindfulness in everyday situations.”

Peter Marshall and Ashley R. Drew (College of Liberal Arts, Psychology). “Interpersonal Influences on Body Representations in the Infant Brain.”

Peter Marshall, Nathan J. Smyk, and Staci Meredith Weiss (College of Liberal Arts, Psychology). “Sensorimotor Oscillations during a Reciprocal Touch Paradigm with a Human or Robot Partner.”

Peter Marshall and Staci Meredith Weiss (College of Liberal Arts, Psychology). “Neural Measures of Anticipatory Bodily Attention in Children: Relations with Executive Function.”

Charles Munyon (Lewis Katz School of Medicine, Neurosurgery). “Neuroethics of Non-primary Brain Computer Interface: Focus on Potential Military Applications.”

Heather Murphy and Shannon McGinnis (College of Public Health, Epidemiology and Biostatistics). “Bacterial Contamination on Latrine Surfaces in Community and Household Latrines in Kathmandu, Nepal.”

Gillian Queisser (College of Science and Technology, Mathematics). “Spine-to-Dendrite Calcium Modeling Discloses Relevance for Precise Positioning of Ryanodine-Receptor-Containing Spine Endoplasmic Reticulum.”

Saqib Rehman, Katharine D. Harper, Courtney Quinn, Joshua Eccles, and Frederick Ramsey (Lewis Katz School of Medicine, Orthopaedic Surgery and Sports Medicine). “Administration of Intravenous Antibiotics in Patients with Open Fractures is Dependent on Emergency Room Triaging.”

Soomin Seo (Klein College of Media and Communication, Journalism, Media, & Communication). Special Issue: Talking With the ‘Hermit Regime’: North Korea, Media, and Communication, International Journal of Communication. Not yet published.

Sylvia Twersky (College of Public Health, Health Services Administration and Policy). “Restrictive State Laws Aimed at Immigrants: Effects on Enrollment in Food Stamp Program by U.S. Citizen Children in Immigrant Families.” 

Geoffrey Wright (College of Public Health, Physical Therapy). “Tonic neuromuscular processing affects postural adaptation differently in aging and Parkinson’s Disease.” 

Xiaoxing Xi, L. Kasaei, T. Melbourne, Ke Chen, and B.A. Davidson (College of Science and Technology, Physics). “MgB2 Josephson junctions produced by focused helium ion beam irradiation.”

Using Manifold for Publishing Digital Scholarly Books

Almost three years ago, we wrote about some of the new digital publishing platforms that scholars should know about. Today we’re going to take a closer look at one of them: Manifold. Manifold is an open source platform for publishing books online that was developed by the University of Minnesota Press, GC Digital Scholarship Lab at the City University of New York, and Cast Iron Coding, thanks to support from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. Manifold makes it easy for publishers to create beautiful, responsive, multimedia-rich online publications using existing files. Manifold ingests texts from EPUB, HTML, Markdown, and Google Docs (unlike, say, Scalar, Manifold itself is not an authoring platform). In addition to the University of Minnesota, a number of other university presses have started to use or experiment with Manifold, including the University of Arizona Press, the University of Washington Press, and Temple University Press.

So, why might a scholar choose Manifold for their next book? Here are our top 5 reasons:

  1. Your research includes lots of images, videos, or audio that won’t work in a print book. Manifold makes it easy to to add supplementary resources to a project. Resources can either be uploaded directly to Manifold or you can link out to other webpages. For one example of how this can work, check out Metagaming by Stephanie Boluk and Patrick LeMieux.
  2. You’re interested in getting feedback from colleagues. Manifold allows readers to highlight and annotate the text and share those annotations with others. As the author, you could even post an early draft of your work on Manifold and have people comment on it as a form of open peer review.
  3. You’re active on social media and want to know how readers are engaging with your book. Each Manifold project gets a hashtag for use on various social media platforms. Manifold integrates with Twitter, and mentions of the book can be curated and displayed on the book’s main page. For one example of how this can work, check out Internet Daemons by Fenwick McKelvey.
  4. You want to experiment with the process of writing a book. Manifold can be used in different ways. In addition to displaying the final book file, authors can post pieces of their project as they research and write it. Authors can share drafts, commentaries, talks, and other writings with readers in order to get feedback and ultimately make their work better. Readers can “follow” a book project as it develops and be alerted when new content is posted. For one example of how this can work, check out Social Theory for Nonhumans by John Hartigan.
  5. You care about making your research available beyond the academy. All Manifold projects published by the University of Minnesota Press are open access, meaning that anyone around the world can read them for free.

Are you considering using Manifold or another digital publishing platform for your next book project? Have questions about Manifold that we haven’t answered here? Let us know in the comments.

Call for Proposals: Temple Faculty-Authored Open Textbooks

North Broad Press is excited to launch our spring 2019 call for open textbook proposals. We’re looking for faculty members to author or edit open textbooks in their fields of study. All Temple University faculty are eligible to apply. Faculty whose proposals are selected will receive a stipend of $5,000.

The application is available here. The deadline for proposals is March 29, 2019. All applicants will be notified by April 15, 2019.

About us
North Broad Press is a joint publishing project between Temple University Press and Temple University Libraries. We publish works of scholarship, both new and reissued, from the Temple University community. Examples include open textbooks written, edited, or compiled by Temple faculty; previously out-of-print books written by Temple faculty or published by the Press; and born digital projects produced by Temple faculty or staff.

What is an open textbook?
An open textbook is a textbook licensed under a Creative Commons license and made available online to be freely used by students, teachers, and members of the public. Print-on-demand copies are also made available at cost. Open textbooks save students money and improve learning outcomes by ensuring that all students have access to their textbook on the first day of class.

What does the work involve?
As author, the faculty member is responsible for writing the text, finding and/or creating suitable images and figures, and clearing any necessary permissions. As editor, the faculty member is responsible for finding contributors, ensuring content requirements and deadlines are met, communicating feedback, and writing an introduction for the volume. Faculty members will keep the copyright to their book and will be able to choose the Creative Commons license that best suits the project.

Will this be peer reviewed?
Yes! All North Broad Press projects go through the peer review process to ensure the accuracy, effectiveness, and appropriateness of the text.

Have questions about your proposal or would like to discuss it before submitting? Please contact Annie Johnson and Mary Rose Muccie.

“We Are the People We Are Waiting For”: Reflections on OpenCon 2018

Jacqueline Phillips and other attendees at OpenCon. Photograph courtesy of Erin McKiernan.

OpenCon is a unique conference that brings together leading early career academic professionals and students from across the world to catalyze action toward a more open system of research and education. This year, Temple University Libraries was proud to sponsor Assistant Professor of Instruction in the Department of Kinesiology (College of Public Health) Jacqueline Phillips to attend OpenCon. The following is a guest post from Dr. Phillips about her experience.

This past weekend I participated in the 2018 OpenCon conference. Since this was my first OpenCon conference I wasn’t very sure of what to expect, but knew it was a gathering of early career professionals with a passion for open access (OA), so I was eager to take part. As a newcomer to the OA world this was my first exposure to an open community beyond my university. Overall, I was completely blown away by the programming and the passion of everyone there to collaborate and better their communities.

Open scholarly work was a new topic I was introduced to at this conference. Although I’ve known about open access journals and the concept of open data, I learned about other ways to make your work open such as posting preprints. Preprints are drafts of manuscripts that are posted online prior to being peer reviewed and formally published. Since a paper can sit in a purgatory-like state for a lengthy amount of time during the standard journal submission process, “pre-printing” enables the author(s) to share their work right away with those in their field. Readers can leave comments or questions, and the paper can be updated with revisions or with a final manuscript after it’s been published. By getting a DOI for a preprint, someone’s work is protected, and others are able to cite the paper. This format enables an early conversation to occur while also helping to connect individuals and advance their work.

As an instructor, my ears always perked up when the topic of open education resources (OER) arose. Strategies on finding already made resources were discussed along with troubleshooting areas of creating resources, like finding or making images (an issue commonly faced in the sciences). Some of the most useful bits of information that I’ll be taking home in this area came through networking and talking to others who have been through this process and were able to provide me with practical tips and wonderful sources. Beyond the making of or incorporation of OER, the discussion that most resonated with me in this area was the importance of student advocacy on campus for OER. A few students were in attendance at OpenCon who spoke about the clubs they were a part of whose mission it is to educate other students about what OER are and how they are impactful. Beyond educating their fellow peers on the subject, they also push for their administration to recognize the importance of the incorporation of OER on campus. This is the type of movement that can help to incentivize faculty to incorporate open materials into their classes, and encourage administration to change the metrics of success that faculty are graded upon for merit or promotion. Student advocacy was a different approach to fostering a cultural change on a campus that seemed to be very successful within these communities.

One particular aspect of the conference I was impressed by was the diversity. Not only the diversity of the attendees, but also presenters and organizers. By having people of different backgrounds and perspectives from around the world involved with all aspects of this event, it contributed to the depth and range of discussions that were held. A topic was presented about how sometimes our mainstream movement to advance OA can inadvertently perpetuate the marginalization of communities this movement aims to help. A lack of diversity at events such as this would only reinforce this oppression; however, I feel the organizers were sensitive to this concept and handled the conference in a way that will help to break down some of these barriers. There was even transparency about the demographics of the conference. The organizers informed us all about the numbers and breakdown of gender, ethnicity, profession etc. of everyone at and involved with the conference. This holds the conference to a higher standard and only helps to make the event even more productive. I hope that we’ll see other conferences begin to incorporate this presentation of the statistics into their events to show commitment to diversity and equity.

The last day of the conference featured a do-a-thon (similar to the concept of a hackathon) where attendees worked in groups to create solutions to particular issues that were brought to the table. All of our work and action plans are available online to the public so that anyone can help and contribute. Overall, I felt very productive at OpenCon. I learned how to use design thinking to solve issues, walked away with actionable items to promote the incorporation of OER, and most importantly, I made connections and became a member of a community that is inspired to collaborate to progress this movement. The conference was closed by Nicole Allen, from SPARC, who left us with the quote: “We are the people we are waiting for.” This perfectly sums of the message I hope to spread to others. We have the ability to break down barriers in education, and now after having attended OpenCon I feel I have more tools to help not only myself, but others accomplish this.