Attending FSCI2021

Author: Esther Plomp 

This year I attended FSCI2021, a two-week course/workshop on the latest developments in Scholarly Communication (July 26 – August 5). This was the second time this event was held online, as well as my second time attending. Last year I did not attend any of the courses this programme provides due to budget limitations. This year, however, I was fortunate enough that my scholarship application was granted, allowing me to attend two courses. This blogpost describes my main takeaways from the event. 

Lightning talks

During the first day FSCI2021 there was an opportunity to give a short talk during the lightning talk session. These sessions are ideal to learn about the latest developments as typically a lot of different topics are covered (with each presenter only having minutes to highlight their work). I presented on the Open Research Calendar, a Google Calendar that allows anyone to keep track of events on Open Research/Science. You can add your own event, after which it is added to the Calendar, promoted automatically through a tweet and finally also listed in the monthly newsletter of the Calendar. During the lightning talks there was a lively discussion going on about data citation issues, making for a great start of the event! 

Screenshot from a tweet by nina exner, who was live-tweeting the Lightning Talks session. 

Course 1: Reproducibility for everyone: a train-the-trainer course for teaching reproducibility tools and methods 

This course was set up to enable participants to deliver reproducibility workshops using the materials from Reproducibility for Everyone. Reproducibility for Everyone (R4E) is a community-led education initiative to increase adoption of open research practices. R4E have made all their resources on reproducibility freely available and they provide support to R4E workshop organisers. During the course several of the modules that R4E provides were discussed by April Clyburne-Sherin. Additional video material by Robyn Price, Ruchika Bajaj, Batool Almarzouq, and Hao Ye was made available. These videos were really helpful to obtain a better idea of the workshops and how they are run. As the workshops are primarily aimed to be given during research conferences I’m currently still struggling how I can directly apply this knowledge in my own work. Conferences in my research field generally do not provide space to host workshops and are instead more seminar/poster based. 

Course 2: Advancing the open science agenda: an introduction to responsible research intelligence reporting

This course on research assessment provided a lot of food for thought. Antiono Schettino provided an overview of the latest recognition and rewards developments. Despite the wide recognition that open science practices are important to increase the impact of research, open science practices are not yet included in research assessment. Antonio highlighted that the metrics that are currently used for research assessment are inadequate to assess open science practices, as they are primarily based on a very narrow aspect of research: citations of publications. Some alternative evaluation frameworks were introduced, but it remains difficult to find a metric that would cover the complexity of Open Science practices. For example, it is difficult to measure the amount of data or software that is made openly available due to a lack of standardisation in these research practices compared to the traditional publication process (as also highlighted during the lightning talks). As Tung Tung Chan and Armel Lefebvre demonstrated, numbers on open access publications are easier to obtain. Other efforts that are crucial in progressing scientific research, such as mentorship, are very difficult to quantify. It appears that we still have a long way to go in developing new evaluation criteria. While this may seem like a grim conclusion, there are also plenty of recent developments that are trying to address this gap. It is important that researchers are recognised for their efforts when they make research outputs openly available, as this otherwise will remain an endeavour that only the very enthusiastic open scientists will participate in. 

Main sessions

The midpoint plenary panels on the needs and future goals of the scholarly communication community were also very interesting to listen to, especially Panel C which was moderated by Nina Exner. The discussion with Barbara Bordalejo, Helen Clare, Gimena Del Rio Riande, and Thomas Hervé Mboa Nkoudou highlighted the need for a more equitable and diverse global scholarly communication ecosystem. Discussing the role of language in this is important to reach cognitive justice for the individuals that do not speak English or where English is not their native language. Helen Clare also highlighted the need to formalise the recognition of contributions of support staff in the research process. In the upcoming years the battle against misinformation also becomes more important as information is more easily spread and fabricated. For a more extensive discussion on the trustworthiness of scientific information I can recommend reading ‘Why trust science?’ by Naomi Oreskes.

I really enjoyed participating in FSCI2021 thanks to the efforts of the FSCI2021 team and all the course instructors, as well as fellow participants that shared their experiences. I hope to be able to attend the event in the upcoming years and I hope to see you there!

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