This is a document that goes way beyond the draft version of the WSF 2009 Communiqué, and for the better. I paste it in full below (source: http://fcforum.net/ ; extended version at http://fcforum.net/charter_extended ).
Below is my quick and dirty list of notes taken during Bill Wedemeyer's talk
"Quality of the science articles on the English Wikipedia", given at Wikimania 2008. Times are approximate, in minutes.
3:00 Dr Ahmed Darwish - need for free and reliable information
3:35 Necessity to train teachers
3:50 Training of students by involving them in scientific writing
5:00 Training of future scientists
5:49 Critiques of WP
7:04 dataset description
8:15 review of "good" WP articles by experts
12:12 WP does cover a broad range of scientific topics
13:45 ca. 11% of science articles are "developed"
14:40 reference to Tim Vickers on peer reviewed stuff
15:45 It should not be a goal for WP to write scientific reviews. Rather, WP should try to make such reviews accessible to the public.
16:00 Tim Vickers edits under his own name and in his area of expertise
16:20 limitations of the media (size limits); does not mention video embedding
16:45 participation/motivation of experts; incl. science funding bodies
18:20 The time to recruit experts is not at the beginning but towards the end, about Featured Article
20:00 WP's authority derives from good referencing
22:00 WP has a method to provide authority to claims ("reliable authoritativeness")
23:00 quality of coverage by WP; weighted selection of mainly Good & Featrured Articles
23:50 only 2% of WP are GA/FA but these are generally OK for outreach and student education
29:30 Conclusions (invite evaluations by independent people)
30:20 Future work
34:00 In what way is writing worse in WP than in EB
35:00 Automate the manual of style!
36:50 Student assignments: Read a WP article, say what is good or bad, and fix it
39:30 How practical is it to invite external reviews?
43:00 Potential dangers of contributing to WP, particularly for a postdoc
44:36 "I personally believe that any scientific study that is published [[...]] must give its data away for free. That's the principle of science that you cannot keep data for yourself. [[..]] So I am completely committed [[to releasing the data]] (if I get published)."
45:15 I will try Nature first. I could also appeal to Science--> why not some OA journal?
46:30 What is the value being added by WP? Don't (just) mirror existing databases!
This post is meant as a contribution to Open Access Day (OA day) which strives to raise awareness - amongst researchers, research funders, academic publishers, students, politicians and the public - of the importance of Open Access (to literature containing peer-reviewed results of scientific investigations, that is) for our global society.
One way to do this is to have people like you blog in synchronization, i.e. on four questions during OA day. To give you some inspiration on the topic, you may wish to take a look at the first such synch-blogging entry, which came from Neil Saunders, based at the University of Queensland, Australia.
I will follow Neil's formatting to address the four questions:
- Why does Open Access matter to you?
- How did you first become aware of it?
- Why should scientific and medical research be an open-access resource for the world?
- What do you do to support Open Access, and what can others do?
OA, for me, marks a turning point within the scientific cycle, i.e. the iterative process which leads (if sufficiently funded) from a research question or idea to a hypothesis or new method that can be tested and, ultimately, to the results of those tests which then have to be communicated. This communication step is crucial, as it adds to our global knowledge foundation (often described, following Newton, as "the shoulders of giants") for new research questions or ideas that may eventually lead to things like "innovation", "insight" and "progress". If innovators-to-be, however, do not have access to the findings of their forebears (which may indeed be contemporaries), they will have to spend a lot of their time and resources by (re)inventing some aspects of the giants' shoulders before starting to work on their innovations in the first place. Open Access is a movement to lift those access barriers, and it is not only useful to researchers but it can also, for instance, help patients and their relatives to gather first-hand expert information on their specific health conditions, and it can help to inform public debates about research data with scientific implications. The full power of Open Access, however, can only be harvested if all other steps within the scientific cycle (including, e.g., notebook keeping) also become increasingly open, a goal with multiple names (of which Open Science is my favourite). This would not only reduce the considerable time lag between the obtainment of some results and their application in other circumstances but also foster the development of new citation metrics that would allow to more adequately evaluate the research accomplishments of young scientists.
I had been aware of the barriers since I started reading scientific papers in the mid-1990s, as I rarely had access to much of the literature cited therein, no matter what library I went to (and I went to more than a dozen regularly at that time). I got a glimpse of a possible solution when checking out the freely available content at BioMed Central on a weekly basis some years later but this again did not cover much of my core areas of interest (Evolutionary Biophysics), nor did arxiv.org that I had discovered around the same time. So it took the Budapest Open Access Initiative to make me aware of the progress that had already been achieved or was underway by 2001, and I signed it shortly after starting to work on my PhD thesis.
Knowledge grows when shared. And what else is the goal of research if not growing knowledge on a global scale? Besides, I find it non-sustainable to use the limited resources that we have to constantly re-invent the wheel for reasons external to the research process.
As an author, I strive to publish OA (i.e. gold) but independent of whether this is possible or not, I self-archive my papers (i.e. green OA). I am neither a journal editor nor part of a publishing house but I occasionally use my blog to cover OA and related topics, particularly Open Education, and Open Science as a whole, and I link to others who do this more intensively. Finally, I am playing around with platforms and technologies that may facilitate the transition to a more open scientific cycle, keeping a special eye on what these upcoming changes might mean to young scientists, e.g. in terms of theses and online lectures rather than papers. Others can, of course, familiarize themselves with the issue of effectively (in both time and resources) communicating (peer-reviewed) research results via the channels that are technically possible, they can experiment with the tools at hand to communicate their thoughts, and they can educate even more others about these matters in more traditional ways. In fact, I think they should.
This note is meant to make you aware of the Journal of Visualized Experiments - a peer reviewed online journal devoted to the publication of biological research in a freely accessible video format.
Everybody is invited to submit educational videos to WatchKnow, an educational online platform due to be launched September 20 (preview here) which strives to collect videos, lectures and animations suitable for kindergartens, primary and secondary education, much like WAYS partner wlp, the world lecture project does it for university-level education. Materials correctly submitted to WatchKnow until September 26 will be eligible for a prize draw.
It does not matter whether you created the video yourself or just found it on the web, but you should be able to provide the data relevant for copyright, and give an explanation why that video is particularly suited for educating children or teenagers. Watchknow is headed by Larry Sanger who also founded Citizendium, an educational Wikipedia offspring directed at university students, researchers and adult education.
Homework is a word that probably very few associate with something positive, and here, I will summarize four recent (independent but converging) twists on the topic:
(1) a study by researchers at the Technical University of Dresden (see press release, German only: http://idw-online.de/pages/de/news245011 ) has demonstrated that homework assignments do indeed fail, in most cases, to help the student in learning;
(2) Citizendium, a wiki-type free encyclopedia aimed at improving general credibility and article quality with respect to Wikipedia, has launched an initiative which encourages university instructors to assign Citizendium articles as homework for which students can get credits (see press release at
(3) OpenStudents.org, upon whose inauguration I have commented previously (http://www.ways.org/en/2008/jan/31/1915/daniel/open_students_platform_st...), now features an article on a very similar approach - to let students deposit their homework in freely accessible repositories, and to give them the option to comment on such contents (cf. http://www.openstudents.org/2008/02/13/student-publishing-as-an-assessme... );
(4) As previously announced, a global initiative on Open education is gaining momentum (cf. http://www.ways.org/en/2008/jan/25/0618/daniel/cape_town_open_education_... ), and (2) and (3) are important steps in this direction.
The Open Access movement now enters education. After the well-known Budapest Open Access Initiative ( http://www.soros.org/openaccess/ ) and a number of related initiatives for for Open Access to scientific research, the Cape Town Open Education Declaration now extends this approach to education and calls for endorsement of the following (excerpts):
1. Educators and learners: First, we encourage educators and learners to actively participate in the emerging open education movement. Participating includes: creating, using, adapting and improving open educational resources; embracing educational practices built around collaboration, discovery and the creation of knowledge; and inviting peers and colleagues to get involved. Creating and using open resources should be considered integral to education and should be supported and rewarded accordingly.
2. Open educational resources: Second, we call on educators, authors, publishers and institutions to release their resources openly. These open educational resources should be freely shared through open
licences which facilitate use, revision, translation, improvement and sharing by anyone. Resources should be published in formats that facilitate both use and editing, and that accommodate a diversity of technical platforms. Whenever possible, they should also be available in formats that are accessible to people with disabilities and people who do not yet have access to the Internet.
3. Open education policy: Third, governments, school boards, colleges and universities should make open education a high priority. Ideally, taxpayer-funded educational resources should be open educational resources. Accreditation and adoption processes should give preference to open educational resources. Educational resource repositories should actively include and highlight open educational resources within their collections.
Details and the full text is available via
http://www.capetowndeclaration.org/read-the-declaration , individuals and organizations may sign.
Berlin, Germany / Accra, Ghana. The MERLOT Africa Network (MAN) Council announces the First Africa Forum on Open Educational Resources (OER), to be held during the eLearning Africa Conference 2008 in Accra, Ghana, May 28th to 30th (cf. conference announcement at http://ways.org/en/events/2008/may/27/elearning_africa_2008 ).
MAN is a network of African higher education institutions affiliated with the Multimedia Educational Resource for Learning and Online Teaching (MERLOT). The organisation works collaboratively with partner institutions to conduct educational research that leads to best practices in the scholarship of teaching and learning using electronic resources. MAN also strives to enhance the usability and quality of the MERLOT e-learning repository for global access.
The First Africa Forum themes focus on global awareness of OER, universal access for all to high quality teaching and learning resources, equal access through internationalisation of resources with multi-language capabilities and research, as well as OER Global Communities of Practices. The event is organised by MAN in collaboration with eLearning Africa and the African Virtual University.
The forum targets all education professionals from all disciplines, including educational researchers, educational trainers, faculty members and teachers from the secondary and higher education sectors.
Open Educational Resources - educational materials and resources offered freely and openly for anyone to use - are becoming increasingly important for education in Africa.
Because of the respect the eLearning Africa international conferences have garnered, the various MAN institutions have decided to use the gatherings as the hub for their efforts to initiate international collaboration and networking among African Higher Education Institutions. The annual events will serve as a venue for the organisation’s discussions and a locus for its activities related to dissemination of best practices and promoting the adoption of e-learning repositories to support education in Sub-Saharan Africa.
For more information on the First Africa Forum please go to http://man.merlot.org/research/MAN%20at%20eLA.html .
Good day. I am working on the Agriculture volume of GLOBAL TEXT PROJECT,
Those who like to contribue kindly contact me,