OpenCon 2015 Applications are Open!

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Applications to attend OpenCon 2015 on November 14-16 in Brussels, Belgium are now open! The application is available on the OpenCon website at and includes the opportunity to apply for a travel scholarship to cover the cost of travel and accommodations. Applications will close on June 22nd at 11:59pm PDT.

OpenCon seeks to bring together the most capable, motivated students and early career academic professionals from around the world to advance Open Access, Open Education, and Open Data—regardless of their ability to cover travel costs.  In 2014, more than 80% of attendees received support.  Due to this, attendance at OpenCon is by application only.

Students and early career academic professionals of all experience levels are encouraged to apply.  We want to support those who have ideas for new projects and initiatives in addition to those who are already leading them.  The most important thing is an interest in advancing Open Access, Open Education, and Open Data and a commitment to taking action. We also hope to use applications to connect applicants with opportunities for collaboration, local events in your area, and scholarship opportunities to attend other relevant conferences.

OpenCon is equal parts conference and community.  The meeting in Brussels serves as the centerpiece of a much larger network to foster initiatives and collaboration among the next generation across OpenCon’s issue areas.  Become an active part of the community by joining our discussion list, tuning in for our monthly community calls and webcasts, or hosting an OpenCon satellite event in your community.

Apply now, and join the OpenCon community today!

About OpenCon:

Hosted by the Right to Research Coalition and SPARC, OpenCon 2015 will bring together students and early career academic professionals from across the world to learn about the issues, develop critical skills, and return home ready to catalyze action toward a more open system for sharing the world’s information — from scholarly and scientific research, to educational materials, to digital data.  OpenCon 2015 will be held on November 14-16 in Brussels, Belgium.

OpenCon 2015’s three day program will begin with two days of conference-style keynotes, panels, and interactive workshops, drawing both on the expertise of leaders in the Open Access, Open Education and Open Data movements and the experience of participants who have already led successful projects.

The third day will take advantage of the location in Brussels by providing a half-day of advocacy training followed by the opportunity for in-person meetings with relevant policy makers, ranging from the European Parliament, European Commission, embassies, and key NGOs. Participants will leave with a deeper understanding of the conference’s three issue areas, stronger skills in organizing local and national projects, and connections with policymakers and prominent leaders across the three issue areas.

OpenCon 2015 builds on the success of the first-ever OpenCon meeting last year which convened 115 students and early career academic professionals from 39 countries in Washington, DC.  

Speakers at OpenCon 2014 included the Deputy Assistant to the President of the United States for Legislative Affairs, the Chief Commons Officer of Sage Bionetworks, the Associate Director for Data Science for the U.S. National Institutes of Health, and more than 15 students and early career academic professionals leading successful initiatives. OpenCon 2015 will again feature leading experts, and the program will be announced in the coming months.



Early Career Researchers,

Open Access,

Open Data,

Open Education,



How orange bananas could make your Open Access Week a success! Tips and Ideas for Open Access Week.

Last Friday Joe McArthur and I presented an Open Access (OA) Week Planning webcast. We thought it best to follow that up with a simple post detailing the key points of the discussion. If you’d like to watch the whole webcast, it’s embedded for your viewing pleasure at the end of the post. The slides used can also be downloaded, again, we’ve embedded them below.

Your OA Week does not have to be overly academic and boring. Appealing to students and people who have absolutely no idea what OA is means you need to make OA sexy. Here are a few tips to help you organise a really cool event:

  • Head outside the bubble

Advocating for OA to people who are already supporters is much like preaching to the choir. This not to say that those already participating in furthering the OA mandate should be side-lined, but our suggestion for OA Week is to venture outside the OA bubble and try to appeal to those who have no idea what OA is about. This could mean finding out what the campus hot-topic is about and trying to insert the OA dialogue in to the discussion in a relevant way. You could also tie OA to research impact, career choices and campus policy rather than just talking about it in isolation.

  • Find support

The more support you have, both within and outside of your campus, the more successful your OA Week will be. The first point of call would be to get your library involved. Hold an info session for librarians about OA and OERs so that if students approach them during the week they are well informed. Ask librarians whether they would be willing to display journal price tags, posters, programmes, and stickers in the library.

Secondly, look at involving student organisations in the week’s events. Getting the Student Representative Council on-board for the week is useful as they are the primary proxy for reaching students. Ask them whether they would be willing to wear promo OA t-shirts for the week to increase visibility on campus. You could also approach research groups and debating unions.

Linking back to the point of heading outside the bubble, contact organisations outside your campus to participate in discussions during OA Week. Last year, OpenUCT Initiative at the University of Cape Town held a panel discussion about access outside the ivory tower to raise awareness around NGO’s, like Rape Crisis in South Africa, that struggle to access research relevant to their cause. In doing this, you could also establish a network between organisations outside the insular campus space and students with access to research.

Finally, R2RC, OKF, SPARC, OA Button and are useful if you have any questions or difficulties with your events.

  • Everyone wants free stuff!

If you can afford to get your hands on t-shirts, stickers, buttons, and bags please do! Students love nothing more than free stuff and it can be used to incentivise participation in activities. Offer a free meal during a workshop or panel discussion and watch them walk straight in the door.

  • Don’t hold an event

DO NOT WAIT FOR PEOPLE TO COME TO YOU, GO TO THEM! Make yourself visible on campus– hand out flyers, orange balloons, and free OA promo giveaways. It’s important to get your foot in the door with people so that you can follow that up with engaging discussions about what OA is and how they can get involved. The great thing about going to organisations and large groups of people is that they already have the large base of students and this makes the whole process easier.

  • Do something different

As I mentioned earlier, having an overly academic week of activities isn’t fun. Students want to be engaged in things that are interesting and sexy so you gotta think outside the box. Host Access Challenges and OER Hackathons (anything with the word “Hackathon” in it is super hot right now!). Why not really do something really different and cover your campus in orange bananas. This can get your campus asking questions which you can answer with a video message or signs. More here : 

  • Do something easy

If you are hosting an event for the first time you don’t have to go all out and over-commit yourself. You can do simple things to attract attention during the week– watch the kick-off events and stream OA videos from YouTube. At the University of Cape Town we streamed the following videos on loop at high-trafficked campus zones:

Open Access Explained and How Open Access Empowered a 16 year old to make a Cancer breakthrough

The great thing here is that the work has already been done for you, you just have to show it to students.

  • Join the global discussion

Do not isolate yourself from the global discussion ongoing during the week. Join the page and create a profile to document your events during the week. This way you can also get an idea of what other groups and universities are doing. Use the OA Week hashtag on twitter (#oaweek #oer #oa #openaccess etc) and blog about your experiences as much as you can.

  • Give people tools

Students can be lazy and apathetic, so go to them and give them the resources they need to engage with OA. Create a list of OA journals and sites where you can access free stuff. At UCT we created a PowerPoint entitled Finding Open Stuff, which lists all the free content, from pictures to research available. You can find it here:

  • Get feedback

Make sure you get feedback from events; this will help you to gauge where people are regarding OA and how you can tailor future events.

  • Follow up on it

It is important to follow up your OA week events to increase momentum– host satellite events of OpenCon etc. You need to create outputs from each event so think about creating policy groups after OA week and give people actions they have to build on. If possible, keep in touch with students who participated in OA week activities via email and twitter.

From everyone at R2RC we wish you a successful OA Week, and please feel free to contact us should you have any queries or concerns.



Open Access,

Open Access Week,