Open in order to… challenge inequality

The theme of International Open Access Week 2017 is “Open in order to…”

My response is open in order to challenge inequality, as many barriers exist to equitable participation in learning and research.

Some actions such as positive discrimination can increase diversity, but do little to address structural inequality.  Unless these approaches then transform systems from the inside, they can be little more than box-ticking quota exercises.

Examining the roots of inequality (a radical approach) allows barriers to be identified and tackled.  Such a strategy creates a more inclusive environment, and diversity increases as a result.

Removing paywalls from publicly-funded research ouputs is a good way to address systematic exclusion from access to research on the basis of ability to pay (often linked with operating within a higher education institution).

This Open Access Week, how can you contribute?

Read, think, learn


Make Wikipedia easier to verify, and more Open Access.  Take a closed/toll-access reference and add an open version to it.

  1. Go to and log in (create a free account if you don’t already have a Wikipedia account)Log in to
  2. You will be presented with a single citation and a single suggested open citation to add to the Wikipedia entry. Review citation and click Add link, or Skip
  3. Review the citation, and click Add link if the citation is a match (same document and legitimate source). If it’s not a match or you’re not sure, click Skip.

A quick, simple, and fun way to improve Wikipedia and access to OA research. Learn more at Celebrate Open Access Week by adding open citations to Wikipedia.


Launch of new ORCID education and outreach resources!

Today (16 October 2017) is ORCID’s fifth birthday, and the launch of the new education and outreach resources – the products of the project I’ve been working on since joining ORCID in March 2017.  Find out more on the ORCID blog: Celebrating ORCID@5 with the launch of new resources!

I’ve learned a lot during the process, including how to add .srt captions to videos, organise and manage working groups across 18 hours’ time difference, and wrangling metadata in Figshare.

Many people were involved in bringing all this together: members of the Meerkat, Giraffe, and Eagle working groups, ORCID Ambassadors, colleagues in the Community Team and Development Team at ORCID, film stars of the future who participated in the Why ORCID? video, people who worked on translations, and those who are now spreading the word about these new materials across the world…

To mark the occasion and thank everyone who contributed, I hosted two (for different time zones) virtual launch parties, and here is the order of service:

Arrival: have ORCID@5 video playing | Introductions: people introduce themselves and tell the group about their role in the project | Canapés: guided tour of Welcome to ORCID | Refreshments: serve virtual drinks e.g. [Gabriela served an ORCIDinha to Laura], and people share any dressing up or drinks/snacks they’ve prepared for the party | Tapas: tour of outreach resources | Entertainment: play Why ORCID? video | Thank guests, and close.

Education & outreach launch party menu

Thanks to my colleague Gabi for the artwork and the inspired drinks list 🙂 I’m off to enjoy something suitably alcoholic before starting work on phase two of this project tomorrow…



My ORCID iD in action

After all this time telling other people about the benefits of ORCID, I was very pleased be be able to interact with several integrations this week!  I agreed to do some peer review for a journal, and was able to use my ORCID credentials at several stages in the process:

1 .Logging in to ScholarOne Manuscripts via ORCID is a breeze

Logging in to ScholarOne Manuscripts using my ORCID account (I would otherwise have had to create a new account and manually enter data into a form)

2. Authorising Wiley (ScholarOne Manuscripts) to read and update my record means reduced data entry for me, and the information they push to update my record is validated, not simply self-asserted

Granting permission for Wiley (ScholarOne Manuscripts) to read and update my record

3. Authorising Publons to get my ORCID iD

Granting permission for Publons to get my ORCID iD

4. When the peer review process is complete and the article is published, this will show up on my ORCID record under the Peer Review section.  And all I had to do was grant permission for this to happen…

Have you got your ORCID iD yet? Registration is free and fast – register today!

UKSG webinar – Blockchain in research and education

Thanks to Martin Hamilton, Futurist at Jisc, for an excellent overview of how we got here, where we are, and what might be next.  Catch up with the slides from this webinar, and here’s a reading list of things mentioned:

  • History of bitcoin
  • Ethereum is “an open-source, public, blockchain-based distributed computing platform featuring smart contract (scripting) functionality.”
  • Namecoin is “an experimental open-source technology which improves decentralization, security, censorship resistance, privacy, and speed of certain components of the Internet infrastructure such as DNS and identities.”
  • Blockcerts – “The Open Initiative for Blockchain Certificates: Build apps that issue and verify blockchain-based certificates for academic credentials, professional certifications, workforce development, and civic records.”
  • Blockchain for Science  – “To bring science towards reproducible results, autonomous and free data handling and incentivisation of true innovation; to guide the social, technical, cultural, political, economical and legal impacts of the blockchain (r)evolution to science; to support scientific communication and education; to free science from any kind of censorship, central point of failure or other potential deadends.”
  • Provenance – “We enable great businesses to build trust in their goods and supply chain. Provenance powered data helps shoppers choose your product.”
  • Sovrin is “a global, decentralized identity network. It delivers the Internet’s missing identity layer. Sovrin allows people and organisations to create portable, self-sovereign digital identities which they control, and which can’t be taken away by any government or organisation. It uses a public permissioned ledger which is governed by the Sovrin Foundation.”
  • Avoiding the pointless blockchain project
1. Must be a database, 2. Must have multiple writers/updaters, 3. You don't trust the folk updating the database, 4. You don't need a trsuted intermediary to vouch for updates / updaters, 5. Transactions are often dependent on each other, 6. Database contains rules for assessing the legitimacy of transactions, 7. Database contains a mechanism for conflict resolution, 8. Information / asset in database can be drawn down e.g. funds transfer

Avoiding the pointless blockchain project – 8 rules

Find out more about UKSG and UKSG events

Disruptive forces in the “staggeringly profitable” business of academic publishing

There is an excellent long read in today’s Guardian: Is the staggeringly profitable business of scientific publishing bad for science?

Learn how academic publishing became so profitable, the rapid increase in library subscription costs (the serials crisis) and the start of Big Deals, and the development of open access as an alternative to subscription publishing (see also my other posts on open access).

Sci-Hub, a different way of disrupting the subscription and paywall model, is in the news at the moment: US court grants Elsevier millions in damages from Sci-Hub – though it’s far from clear if or when they may receive any of it:

Meanwhile, Finnish researchers have launched a boycott against Elsevier: “The group behind statement urges researchers to refrain from peer review and editorial duties for journals owned by publishing giant Elsevier.  The boycott is launched on a new website The site welcomes also signatures from international colleagues all around the world, who are worried about cost of and access to research literature in their own countries.”

Anthology of interest 2

Interesting things I’ve been reading/watching/listening to recently:

📖 What we’ve learned from #ExpertDebate – Wellcome’s Director Jeremy Farrar reflects on the issues that mistrust of expertise raises for researchers.  He warns us to beware double meanings when talking science: these 5 words have different meanings in the context of science vs everyday usage: theory, significant, risk, determine, predict.

📽 The closing keynote of UKSG Conference 2017: Post-Truth: the role of publishers and librarians by Charlotte Roueché, Professor Emeritus of Digital Hellenic Studies at King’s College London (and here is her ORCID record).  In a post-truth era where fake news proliferates, she asks us “What are you doing to preserve truth and honest thinking?”  We are all researchers, and it’s not good enough to say it’s not our problem.  She emphasises the importance of linked open data, and highlights 5-star Open Data – how to make your data open, re-usable, and linked (includes examples, and costs/benefits for each level).

👂 Copyright or Wrong – Leading copyright lawyer and author Richard Taylor asks whether copyright is an analogue law in the digital age.  Featuring German MEP Julia Reda, and Monty Python.

📖 Worth Dying For: The Power and Politics of Flags by Tim Marshall.  I learned a lot from Tim’s previous book, Prisoners of Geography: Ten Maps That Tell You Everything You Need to Know About Global Politics, so I had high expectations!  I devoured Worth Dying For and will soon re-read it to make sure I can remember as many as possible of Tim’s observations and anecdotes.  He has a dry sense of humour too!

📽  … While awaiting the arrival of the copy you’ve ordered, watch this video of Tim speaking about The Power and Politics of Flags (public lecture at LSE).

👂 I’m really enjoying the current BBC World Service series 50 Things That Made The Modern Economy.  Wondering how the development of air-conditioning might be linked to Ronald Reagan winning the 1980 US Presidential Election?  Listen to the episode on air-conditioning and then catch up with all the others.   Each episode is only 9 minutes long, and all of them will give you something to think about.

📖 How We Got “Please” and “Thank You” – Why the line between politeness and bossiness is a linguistic mirage (and the idea of the tacit calculus of debt).

On which matter, thanks for reading 🙂