brief hiatus in my hiatus

I’m not ending my blogging break, but I simply couldn’t let this from Cameron Neylon pass by without comment:

The UK Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council currently has a call out for proposals to fund ‘Network Activities’ in e-science. This seems like an opportunity to both publicise and support the ‘Open Science’ agenda so I am proposing to write a proposal to ask for ~£150-200k to fund workshops, meetings, and visits between different people and groups. The money could fund people to come to meetings (including from outside the UK and Europe) but could not be used to directly support research activities. The rationale for the proposal would be as follows.

  • ‘Open Science’ has the potential to radically increase the efficiency and effectiveness of research world wide.
  • The community is disparate and dispersed with many groups working on different approaches that do not currently interoperate – agreeing some interchange or tagging standards may enable significant progress
  • Many of those driving the agenda are early career scientists including graduate students and postdocs who do not have independent travel funds and whose PI may not have resources to support attending meetings where this agenda is being developed
  • There is significant interest from academics, some publishers, software and tool developers, and research funders in making more data freely available but limited concensus on how to take this forward and thus far an insufficient committment of resources to make this possible in practice

This is a terrific opportunity to move Open Science forward; as Cameron points out, existing efforts are scattered and perhaps the most important thing right now is to make connections among the community. The whole idea is that a community approach will be vastly more efficient than the existing hypercompetitive model! This funding could move Open Science into the big time by driving the creation and adoption of working standards, possibly even a BBB-style declaration, and by creating a seed network of cooperative scientists out of which mainstream Open Science could emerge.
Cameron writes, in a followup:

I’ve made a start with an outline on a GoogleDoc which can be viewed here. I have tried to set out some general headings and areas to be fleshed out and added a little text. This is early days but if anyone wishes to add anything then please feel free. I have given editing rights to all those people who have comments on the original post (as of around 9:30 pm GMT on Thursday 22 November) so they should now have editing rights. I have set the document so that those people with invitations can cascade them to others (I hope). I will continue to issue invitations to anyone who comments on the original post. No need to feel obliged to add anything  – I’m not asking you to write the grant for me – but if you feel so inclined then the assistance will be very welcome.
What I will request is from those who are interested is a short letter stating your current post/position/ambitions, your interest in ‘Open Science’ and why you would like to be involved in this network. Either email to me at C [dot] Neylon [at] or simply drop it in as a comment.

Please, if you have anything to offer, step up. And I cannot emphasize this too strongly: if you’re at all interested, you do have something very valuable to offer: a letter of support, as described. It is vital that the powers-that-be (that is, the powers-that-fund) see real commitment to these ideas, from real people. The deadline loometh (next Tuesday), so don’t put this off. Your letter doesn’t have to be a literary masterpiece — just stand up and be counted.


Astute readers will have noticed that there’s not much going on here anyway. I’ve had immigration hassles (done with, I hope), health problems (fixed, I think) and I’m waaaaaaaaaayyyyy behind at work. I need a couple months’ absolute tunnel vision: publish or perish, publish or perish, publish or perish. So, no blogging for me, and I won’t be reading much except research papers either. I’ll copy all my science/OA RSS feeds to Google Reader (which unlike Bloglines doesn’t stop caching at 200) and try to catch up on the backlog over whatever Christmas break I get.
[ahnuld] I’ll be back… [/ahnuld]