Brussels on a cold morning, the sun reluctantly rising in the clear sky, and there’s science to be done. Sitting at a jaunty angle from the European Parliament is “possibly the best investment Bavaria ever made” (according to Gunnar Wiegand, Deputy Director at the Representation of the Free State of Bavaria to the EU), where LERU’s 10th anniversary one day conference was taking place.
The day had an excellent array of speakers and panellists who were all given with keynotes from Dr Anneli Pauli, deputy Director-General, DG Research & Innovation at the EC; Prof Geoffrey Boulton FRS; Dr Alma Swan, Director of European Advocacy, SPARC-Europe; and Dr Carlos Morais-Pires, Project Officer, Data Infrastrctures, e-infrastructure Unit at the EC.
Prof Geoffrey Boulton had been asked to give a keynote on Open Data which kick started Session 1: Reasserting the primacy of data. His address was based on the Royal Society report Science as an open enterprise. This was well-received by the audience who engaged with the content greatly. The painting of metaphors about the data deluge and an oncoming tide of information, the ability for scientists to ‘remix’ data like a DJ with music really caught their imagination.
A range of good questions were posed: about how to get not just the libraries on board to open data but also the researchers, the debate over opening up data and opening up data intelligently; the dilemma over deciding what data to keep and what may be useful in the future; and the sustainability and costs of curating and producing intelligently open data.
Session 2 was focused on Reaching out through Open Access, where a really heated discussion ensued over the role of publishers, and the different OA models of Gold and Green. When it came to the UK’s role this was thought by Dr Swan to be an unhelpful stance as it was at odds with the rest of Europe. The open access debate is a somewhat more advanced one than data, and more familiar territory for some and so the audience were able to engage with the ideas of combating scientific fraud, viable financial business models for publishing, data and text mining restrictions by publishers, and the credit of data citation.
Carlos Morais-Pires’ presentation was enlightening, setting out the EC’s work and plans for e-infrastructure and the data pilot. He was a truly engaging speaker and injected a feeling of excitement back into the subject. However, there was a feeling of underlying gloom and uncertainty to contributions from those at the EC, as the Multiannual Financial Framework budget negotiations for the EU were not progressing well. The central contention is surrounding the economic debate of austerity versus stimulus.
The day finished well and from what I could tell most of the participants left feeling they had had a useful and enjoyable time and were excited to take back evidence to move their institutions forwards with their respective open agendas.