Monday, July 16, 2007

National Scholarly Communications Forum 2007

Australian Academy of Science Shine Dome in CanberraGreeting from the National Scholarly Communications Forum 2007 on 'Improving Access to Australian Publicly Funded Research - Advancing Knowledge and the Knowledge Economy' at The Shine Dome in Canberra. This is a one day event sponsored by DEST held each year. The one last year was on "Open Access, Open Archives and Open Source".

The program, with comments (I will update this on my blog, questions for the speakers welcome):

9.10 - 9.15 Welcome: Colin Steele, Conveor NSCF, Emeritus Fellow, ANU. Colin point out that a third of the conference were still stuck on aircraft held up by fog at Canberra airport. Perhaps they should have attended electronically. ;-)

9.15 - 10.00 The Global Information Commons, Paul Uhlir, Director of the Office of International Scientific and Technical Information Programs, National Academies, Washington. Paul gave the rationale for access to research results and its relationship to e-publishing. The reasoning is similar to that for access to the web by the disabled: electronic documents are cheap to distribute, this makes it hard to argue why they should not be available to all.

The scholarly and professional societies got a mention in this. The ACS is doing its part by publishing research free online. One risk Paul sees is that some research by universities is contracted by outside bodies, who may want to keep the results. The ACS sponsors some research by Professor John Houghton, but this is provided free online.

Providing scholarly information online will require new skills from scholars. Mr. Uhlir commented that the conference video screen was difficult to read. One table in his presentation was unreadable on screen and so was provided on paper to each delegate. Unfortunately the printed version was also unreadable. The problem was not with the display technology, but with the design of the table, which was unsuitable for use in any media. Authors can't simply produce stuff and leave the problem of making it readable to others.

I asked Mr. Uhlir if young scholars would expect a Web 2.0 ("My Space") looking system for papers and data, rather than something which looked like traditional scholarly publications he agreed with this.

10.00 - 10.30 Research Communication in Australia: Emerging Opportunities and Benefits, Prof. John Houghton, Victoria University. Professor Houghton produced a report on new research infrastructure for DEST, He provided a systematic overview of the research as an industry, with its costs and benefits.

11.00 - 11.30 Public Support for Science and Innovation, Monika Binder, Director, Productivity Commission. The PR released a report on open access and related issues.

11.30 - 12.15 Digital Humanities: The ACLS Report on Cyberinfrastructure for the Social Sciences and the Humanities, Prof. John Unsworth, University of Illinois

OAK Law Project Report One: Creating a legal framework for copyright management of open access within the Australian academic and research sectors1.15 - 1.45 Open Access to Knowledge (OAKL): Intellectual Property, Copyright and Licensing Issues, Prof. Brian Fitzgerald, QUT. Brian detailed some of QUT's work on creative commons licenses and related issues with open access. They are producing a series of guides under the acronym "OAK" (note the conference program was incorrect in referring to this as "OAKL").

So far they have released "
Creating a legal framework for copyright management of open access within the Australian academic and research sectors" (2006). Unfortunately this is provided as a 4.25Mbyte 256 page PDF document, making it unusable most potential readers.

1.45 - 2.15 Biological open Source Developments - A Case Study for Science, Dr Richard Jefferson, CEO Cambia

2.15 - 2.40 Finding Gold in Europe: JISC, Research Councils and CERN, Frederick Friend, UK JISC Scholarly Communication Consultant

3.00 - 3.30 Australia's Research Quality Framework and Research Accessibility, Dr Evan Arthur, Group Manager, Innovation and Research Systems Group, DEST

3.30 - 4.15 Overviews and Outcomes, Panel Discussion: Dr Mike Sargent, Prof. Warwick Anderson, Paul Uhlir and Dr Rhys Francis

Unlike the China New Media conference, I attended recently, I felt like I knew almost everyone in the room at this event. You will see many of the people and topics I have written about previously.