From Nairobi to the World: Open Access Week 2016

Training-the-Trainers of Open Access

The Open Access landscape is changing. As advocates, we ought to be up-to-date with these changes. This is about the Train-the-Trainer platform adopted for Nairobi’s Open Access Week 2016. Inspired by this year’s Open Access Week theme, Open in Action, I thought of a platform where researchers, librarians, students and others who have committed to working in Open could share their experiences on how that decision has benefited them.

Photo courtesy of OpenCon 2016 Nairobi



Why Train-the-Trainers?

This is my first year in Open Research and Open Education advocacy. Initially, I thought that realizing Open Access, Open Data and Open Education was a matter of simply pushing a button (i.e. a ‘one fix’ solution), only to find out how vast and technical it is. During my first year of advocacy, I encountered issues that plague work done by Open Access advocates in Kenya, which I believe are also being felt in different corners of the world. These issues include: few mentors, a lack of understanding of cultures and how cultures affect Open Access work, sustainability of Open Access initiatives, and inadequate infrastructure to foster advocacy work.

As an advocate who aspires for a community which understands the role Open plays in day-to-day economic and social developments, I am looking forward to a platform where people can be inspired as they join the Open Access community, and empowered as they continue advocating for Open. In order to bridge differences in the Open Access community, I believe we need to build the capacity of advocates, encourage collaborations, and work as a team while streamlining cultures during the development and implementation of Open Access initiatives. When every advocate’s voice is heard and embraced, solidarity amongst advocates will be attainable. 

With more empowered advocates, it will be possible to roll out various OA initiatives in our higher learning institutions, research institutes and community. Anyone who has been advocating for openness in research will agree with me that you acquire new knowledge and skills as you undergo more training (and especially so while sharing with peers!).

Finally, Open Access means different things to individuals from different disciplines and with the cross cutting nature of development issues, we should work openly, hand-in-hand.


Train-the-Trainers (TTT)

The goal of this year’s Open Access Week was for individuals and institutions in different parts of the world to come up with initiatives that went beyond what Open Access is, to how to practice Open Access: the focus was on taking steps to opening up research and scholarships and encouraging others to do the same. Our Train the Trainers program aligned with this theme.   Through partnership with OpenCon and Regional Centre for Mapping of Resources for Development (RCMRD) as well as speakers from Electronic Information For Libraries (EIFL) and International Centre for Insect Physiology and Ecology (ICIPE), more than twenty advocates from different institutions were trained during Open Access Week Nairobi.

Train-the-Trainer was a platform that brought together postgraduate students and early career researchers who have been advocating for Open Access and Open Science with the aim of training Open Access ambassadors. The purpose of the training was to provide a good platform to roll out OA training to a large number of students and ECRs in higher learning institutions as well as research institutes. We wanted to strengthen the capacity of Open Access advocates, strengthen institutional capacity in promoting Open Access, and provide instruction on how to incorporate Open practices into research workflows.

The event covered talks by experts, talk by peers, and practical tips on how to incorporate open access in day-to-day research workflows in various research disciplines.


What Next?

Open Access has been embraced in Kenya, but only to a small extent. Still, the commitment, financial and moral support from the government, government institutions, academic and research organizations are of great importance. Here are advocates who are all out to reach the new frontiers, break and harmonize the barriers. The ambassadors will tackle issues which affect the future of Open Access, Open Data and Open Education both regionally and globally while receiving mentorship.

With the training, ambassadors are expected to become the voice of Open and will be responsible for advocacy of Open Access and related topics within their own institutions. They will be required to host workshops or lectures annually on Open Access and Open Data principles tailored by the needs of their institutions. However, for ambassadors to achieve this, they will need further training. I am working with the Information Training and Outreach Centre for Africa (ITOCA) to develop a proposal to secure funds so that the ambassadors can receive further training. We are looking for individuals who are willing to come on board and mentor these ambassadors as well. We want to create a network of advocates that ensures students, faculty, staff, librarians, and community members can speak and practice Open.

While organizing our Open Access week event, I shared the idea with individuals from various institutions; EIFL, ITOCA, International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI),ICIPE and RCMRD. I look forward to engaging with these groups during the initiative’s implementation, and to more individuals and institutions joining us on our journey.

I call us a country running even before crawling when it comes to openness in research. Kenya is a country where few people understand the role Open Research plays in science, technology and innovation, let alone research itself. Yet, there are OA policies in place. I’m ready to turn things around—are you?



Organizing an Open Access event for a second time was fun yet tiring at the same time. A second enjoyable time despite few challenges here and there. Appreciation and love goes to OpenCon, RCMRD and Iryna Kuchma (Open Access Program Manager, EIFL) for the support. The journey continues!

Lilian Juma is a spatial planner, environmentalist, and researcher who have recently developed passion in landscape planning and design. She works on participation as a tool for engagement, advocacy, skill building and social innovation.



How to solve the crisis of science | News | Expatica Switzerland

“Being able to reproduce scientific results was a key issue at the congress, and often relates back to the problem of time pressure, as scientists have an incentive to publish results that appear most interesting as soon as possible.

But attendees agreed that, while there often seem to be too many papers published in journals, there are still important phenomena – even negative results or failed experiments – that should be shared instead of thrown in the trash.

Better infrastructure for sharing such results, as well as open access data and publications, was also called for. According to [Marcel] Tanner, SCNAT [Swiss Academy of Natural Sciences] is already working with the Swiss Science and Innovation Council and the Swiss National Science Foundation to manage open access in Switzerland, where about 40% of publications produced with public funding are freely available….”

Science Library Pad: Many preprint services

“Preprints have long circulated in some disciplines.  As the science publication and rewards systems evolve to permit greater use of preprints, the number of discipline-specific preprint services continues to increase.

The two best-established ones are:

  1. (physics including particularly astrophysics and high-energy physics; mathematics; computer science)
  2. (biology)

(The X is a Chi, incidentally. This is a kind of physics humour.)

Two more are in the process of being established:

In terms of publisher-based preprint services, Nature had one called Nature Precedings which is now closed.

PeerJ has PeerJ Preprints.

There are also a bunch of services hosted by the Open Science Framework:

Obviously if this continues we will get to a point where we need meta-preprint services to combine all of the preprint services.

Funding sources and supporters are quite diverse.  It’s not clear to me that there are enough funders currently in place to sustainably fund a proliferation of preprint servers.  It’s also not really clear to me what ASAPbio will cover that bioRxiv doesn’t cover already.

arXiv is a Cornell University Library initiative with membership and private finding.  (See arXiv – Business and Governance Information and Cornell University Library – New sponsorship model broadens arXiv membership.)

bioRxiv is a Cold Springs Harbour Library initiative with private funding.  (See bioRxiv – Preprint server bioRxiv receives additional major funding.)

chemRxiv is an American Chemical Society (ACS) initiative.

ASAPbio is an initiative with a mix of public support and private funding.  (See ASAPbio – Nature – Heavyweight funders back central site for life-sciences preprints.)  Funders supporting ASAPbio’s principles include the Canadian Institutes for Health Research (CIHR).

Wellcome Trust will accept preprints in grant applications.

HHMI recognizes preprints ‘as evidence of productivity and will accept them for purposes such as laboratory head reviews.’

Most, but not all publishers will now accept manuscripts that have previously been posted online as preprints.”

Internet Archive files amicus brief in support of fair use and innovation in libraries | Internet Archive Blogs

“Today marks the beginning of Fair Use Week, which celebrates the importance of fair use for libraries, students, teachers, journalists, creators, and the public. Last week, the Internet Archive joined the American Library Association, the Association of Research Libraries, and the Association of College and Research Libraries on a friend of the court brief in the Capitol Records v. Redigi case. This case raises the important question about whether it is legal to resell lawful copies of digital music files—that is, whether the first sale right exists in digital form, and how that right interacts with fair use. The first sale right, codified at Section 109(a) of the Copyright Act, is the same law that allows libraries to lend books and other copyrighted works to the public. As library collections become increasingly digital, libraries are relying on on fair use and first sale rights in order to perform their everyday duties, including preservation and lending.

The brief argues first that the court’s fair use analysis should favor secondary uses that have the same underlying purpose as the first sale right. ‘In Authors Guild v. HathiTrust… [the Second Circuit Court] used the rationale for a specific exception—17 U.S.C. § 121, which permits the making of accessible format copies for the print disabled—to support a finding of a valid purpose under the first factor. Likewise, the Copyright Office has repeatedly based fair use conclusions on specific exceptions in the context of a rulemaking under section 1201 of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, 17 U.S.C. § 1201. As this Court did in HathiTrust or the Copyright Office did in the section 1201 rulemaking, the district court should have recognized that the purpose behind the first sale doctrine tilted the first fair use factor in favor of ReDigi.’

Second, the brief argues that a positive fair use determination in the Redigi case would enable libraries to provide new and innovative digital services to their users. The brief states: ‘Fair use findings in technology cases have encouraged libraries to provide new, digitally-based services such as the HathiTrust Digital Library. In addition to enabling researchers to find relevant texts and perform critical data-mining, HathiTrust provides full-text access to over fourteen million volumes to people who have print disabilities. A fair use finding in this case would provide libraries with additional legal certainty to roll out innovative services such as the Internet Archive’s Open Library. Such a result would increase users’ access to important content without diminishing authors’ incentive to create new works.’

You can read the full text of the brief here.”

Author-guided Open Peer Review – Open Scholar C.I.C.

“It is time to challenge the idea that scientific peer review can only be arranged and handled by journal editors. We propose a research assessment process complementary to journal-handled peer review where authors themselves can invite experts to openly evaluate their work.

The Open Peer Review Protocol and our recent article on academic self-publishing describe in detail the requirements for implementing author-guided open peer review. The key features are:

  • Authors invite expert peers to formally evaluate their work posted in any online archive (libraries, repositories, preprint servers, etc).
  • Reviewers who accept submit a detailed qualitative and quantitative assessment of the work.
  • The reviewer’s name and any conflict of interest are publicly disclosed.
  • Reviews are published with a creative commons license (or similar) and become publicly available along with the original work.
  • Reviews are  subject to commentary and evaluation by the entire community.
  • Author-guided open peer review can be implemented at any stage of an article’s lifetime: a) before journal submission, (b) during journal peer review (in agreement with the journal’s editor), and (c) after journal publication.

Read the Open Peer Review Protocol for more detailed implementation instructions and read and sign the Manifesto of Independent Peer Review.”

[1702.04855] Open Science, Public Engagement and the University

“Contemporary debates on ‘open science’ mostly focus on the pub- lic accessibility of the products of scientific and academic work. In contrast, this paper presents arguments for ‘opening’ the ongoing work of science. That is, this paper is an invitation to rethink the university with an eye toward engaging the public in the dynamic, conceptual and representational work involved in creating scientific knowledge. To this end, we posit that public computing spaces, a genre of open- ended, public learning environment where visitors interact with open source computing platforms to directly access, modify and create complex and authentic scientific work, can serve as a possible model of ‘open science’ in the university.”


Scoring the players in European copyright reform.

“At Politico, Chris Spillane and Ryan Heath have estimated who has the most and least power over the direction of European copyright law.

Much the news is bad for readers, users, consumers, and open access. For example:

The quietest and weakest players on the board — bar none — are university academics.

Nearly as quiet and weak are the academic libraries represented by LIBER (Ligue des Bibliothèques Européennes de Recherche, or Association of European Research Libraries).

Elsevier is much louder and more effective than academics or libraries. …”

Obama’s top science adviser’s guide to navigating the Trump era – Vox

“If there’s a subtext to this year’s meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the largest gathering of scientists of the year, it’s anxiety for the future. John Holdren, the top science adviser to President Barack Obama who spoke Friday at the conference, summed it up like this: “I’m worried — based on early indications — that we can be in for a major shift in the culture around science and technology and its eminence in government. We appear to have a president now that resists facts that do not comport to his preferences. And that bodes ill on the Obama Administration’s emphases on scientific integrity, transparency, and public access.” …”

Workshop: IPR, Open Science and Technology Transfer | Agricultural Information Management Standards (AIMS)

“The delicate interplay between ensuring protection of Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) and fostering knowledge circulation will be at the core of the workshop ‘IPR, Technology Transfer & Open Science – Challenges and opportunities’, which will take place on March 9th in Brussels. Starting from the idea that Open Science does not mean ‘free science’, the participants will discuss the approaches to striking a good balance between protected data and open access to information.

The present Workshop, jointly organised by JRC and DG Research and Innovation, gathers experts in Intellectual Property Rights (IPR), Technology Transfer, Open Science and cloud computing, with a view to analysing the interaction between these elements and, in particular, to understanding to what extent the current European copyright framework is fit for an Open Science setting.

The Workshop is expected to result in a set of policy recommendations to be included in a policy brief following discussions.

Since seats are limited, you are kindly invited to register early in order to secure your place.”

Scholarly journal publishing in transition– from restricted to open access

Abstract: While the business models used in most segments of the media industry have been profoundly changed by the Internet surprisingly little has changed in the publishing of scholarly peer reviewed journals. Electronic delivery has become the norm, but the same publishers as before are still dominating the market, selling content to subscribers. This article asks the question why Open Access (OA) to the output of mainly publicly funded research hasn’t yet become the mainstream business model. OA implies a reversal of revenue logic from readers paying for content to authors paying for dissemination via universal free access. The current situation is analyzed using Porter’s five forces model. The analysis demonstrates a lack of competitive pressure in this industry, leading to so high profit levels of the leading publishers that they have not yet felt a strong need to change the way they operate. OA funded by article publishing charges (APCs) might nevertheless start rapidly becoming more common. The driving force currently consists of the public research funders and administrations in Europe, which are pushing for OA by starting dedicated funds for paying the APCs of authors from the respective countries. This has in turn lead to a situation in which publishers have introduced “big deals” involving the bundling of (a) subscription to all their journals, (b) APCs for their hybrid journals and (c) in the future also APCs to their full OA journals. This appears to be a relatively risk free strategy for the publishers in question to retain their dominance of the market and high profit levels also in the future.

Not-for-Profit Publishers Call New NIH Rule a Missed Opportunity

“The final National Institutes of Health (NIH) rule on Enhanced Public Access to NIH Research Information is wasteful of federal research dollars and a missed opportunity to take advantage of available technology and existing efforts, according to a group of the nation’s leading not-for-profit medical and scientific publishers. The final rule ignores significant free access policies already existing in the not-for-profit publishing community that offer more cost-effective public access to the science in their journals.


NIH’s new rule requests but does not require authors to deposit into PubMedCentral (PMC) manuscripts of articles reporting NIH-funded research that have been peer reviewed and accepted by journals for publication.  NIH would release these manuscripts to the public within 12 months or less after publication in the journal.  The timing of the release would be determined by the authors, who “should ensure that their PMC submissions are consistent with any other agreements, including copyright assignments,” according to the NIH statement.


These publishers believe that NIH should take advantage of the fact that most not-for-profit publishers currently make all their content—not just NIH supported articles—available for free to the public within 12 months.  Not-for-profit publishers believe that the public would be better served if NIH created an enhanced search engine that works like Google to crawl the journals’ full text articles and link to the final published articles residing on the journal websites. This would offer significantly more assistance to those seeking medical research results than a database of NIH-funded manuscripts can provide. This public-private partnership would be much less costly to NIH and would avoid the confusion that would result from publishing two different versions of the same article—an unedited version on PubMed Central and the final version in the journal….”

Welcome to Ambra

“Ambra is an innovative Open Source platform for publishing Open Access research articles. It provides features for post-publication discussion and versioned articles that allows for a “living” document around which further scientific discoveries can be made. The platform is in active development by PLOS (Public Library of Science) and is licensed under the MIT License….”

Open Educational Resources – Hewlett Foundation

“In 2002, the Hewlett Foundation began investing in open educational resources (OER), which are high-quality teaching, learning, and research materials that are free for people everywhere to use and repurpose.

We were one of the first institutions to invest in the field, at a time when MIT’s Open Courseware initiative and Creative Commons were in their infancy. Since then, the foundation has partnered with several content producers as well as technical assistance advisors and policy groups to support the creation of an ecosystem of OER groups.

In addressing the costs and quality of learning in the U.S. and the dearth of high-quality course materials, we see an unprecedented opportunity to scale OER and unleash its potential to improve education for the future. Our grantmaking supports mainstream adoption and effective use of openly licensed educational resources that provide students around the world greater access to a world class education….”

Open source lessons for synthetic biology – O’Reilly Radar

“So, that’s software. How does open source work in biology? Examples lie on a spectrum ranging from “garage” to “academic lab.”


Biohackers, for one, in many ways resemble the original “two nerds in a garage” origins of the computer movement. Biohackers use open source protocols and designs for equipment, such as PCR to set up personal laboratories that would normally be beyond the scope of casual tinkerers. This is assisted by recent attempts to standardize genetic elements, as seen, for example, in the BioBrick movement (which curates various DNA sequences designed to easily clone together into a biological circuit) or the OpenPlant collaborative initiative (which promotes an open source approach to plant synthetic biology). Supported by a surprising number of open, collaborative labs around the world, these groups aim to bring about the same sort of changes as were seen with the start of the PC era.


At the other end, we have institutions such as CambiaLabs and the BiOS Initiative, which aim to support open source IP initiatives for biological systems via collaborative licensing agreements. A good example of their work would be the Transbacter project, an attempt to perform an end-run around the multitude of Agrobacteria-mediated plant engineering techniques patents by identifying other vectors — which were then released to the community.


Both of these are attempts to democratize biological research and development, and tie into a general increase in popular interest over biotechnology — as can be seen by the success of the crowdfunded “Glowing Plants” synthetic biology project….”