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SpotOn Open Science


What is SpotOn London?

SpotOn London (formally Science Online London) is the annual, flagship SpotOn conference. This year, it took place on Sunday 11th and Monday 12th November at the Wellcome Collection Conference Centre. The programme is available here and more details about the event can be found here.

In terms of Open Science, the main highlight of Science Online London 2011 was the Keynote delivered at the very start of the event by Michael Nielsen.

Science Online London 2011 - Keynote, Michael Nielsen from Graham Steel on Vimeo.

At SpotOn London this year, Open Science related issues came up in a number of the scheduled sessions. Here are some of the highlights.

Open Access

Whilst Open Access was mentioned at some point in many of the sessions, the main one to flag up was the session entitled “The journal is dead, long live the journal” which included a panel that consisted of Ian Mulvany, Damian Pattinson, Matias Piipari, Ethan Perlstein and Anna Sharman.

Anna has compiled this Storify of the session.

Open Data

Open Data came up in several of the sessions but the main two were as follows.

The first one was “Data reuse” featuring Mark Hahnel, Ross Mounce and Sarah Callaghan.

In this session we will explore the novel ways in which new technology allows us to build on the corpus of knowledge that academics around the globe are adding to on a daily basis. This includes pulling data out of traditional publications as well as linking new forms of research outputs.

The lively discussion on Twitter of this session has been Storified. Ross has also blogged about it.

The second one was entitled “Publishing Research Data: What’s in it for me?” which included the following speakers: Brian Hole, Jonathan Tedds, Simon Hodson, Neil Chue Hong and Geraldine Clement-Stoneham.

In an ideal world, open and efficient science would involve the widespread sharing not only of research papers, but also of research data and software. This session will explore what needs to be done to increase publication of these outputs. What’s in it for researchers and for publishers? How are we increasing the incentives and rewards and how can we do more? And what could the ideal future of open data publication actually look like?

Citizen Science

Citizen Science was covered in detail during the session entitled “Public engagement with research” co-ordinated by Ann Grand with the assistance of panel members Cindy Regalado and Shannon Dosemagen who joined in via Skype.

Rather than supporting engagement with scientific outputs or scientists, we now have the potential to support engagement throughout the entire process of science, to allow professional and non-professional participants to co-create and collaborate on research projects. This is a considerable shift of paradigm: scientists nudged from their traditional role as designers and decision-makers; members of the public offering previously unused talents and expertises.

A Storify of this session can be found here and Ann has blogged about it here.

Open Science

The main session this year that covered Open Science was “Incentivising Open Access and Open Science: Carrot and Stick” featuring Grace Baynes, Laure Haak, Graeme Moffat, Geraldine Clement-Stoneham, Jenny Dellasalle and Giorgio Gilestro.

Tim Berners-Lee invented the World Wide Web in 1989 at CERN, envisioning "a common information space in which we communicate by sharing information". How can policy and common standards help us achieve a true 'open science' world? This session focuses on overcoming the barriers to open science and open access to research, with a particular focus on incentivisation and credit.


In terms of altmetrics, the main session that covered this was “Altmetrics beyond the Numbers” involving Martin Fenner, Euan Adie, Sarah Venis and Marie Boran.

Altmetrics look at the impact that research is having in the social web. They go beyond citations of scholarly papers, and also include usage statistics, sharing in social bookmarking sites, discussions on Twitter and Facebook, and mentions in science blogs and Wikipedia. Much of the discussion about altmetrics has focussed on the numbers collected by these tools, but their real value is in helping explore what happens after a paper (or other piece of research) is published, and how it is absorbed into the body of knowledge.

As always, feedback, comments, suggestions and ideas are welcomed. Please get in touch at or via twitter, facebook or google+.

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