#openaccess Can I use Wiley’s “Open Access” for teaching? NO

Wiley has an “Open Access” offering. I couldn’t find papers any so I tweeted and got:

“gold padlocks” and “purple padlocks”. “free” and “open”. Words and images that can mean anything. No idea whether it’s usable for teaching. Another tweet:

So off I go to the URL, find a paper on chemistry (there aren’t many, of course):

Is it actually Open? I find

So NO. I can’t use it for teaching (which is a commercial activity). I look for permissions:

And I get back

Which is useless.

So Wiley would like to hear from me, it says.

OK Wiley – I don’t think you are really trying hard enough. Open Access is about helping people get material, not making a trail of difficulties through purple and gold and open and half open and …

You’re actually telling us we don’t matter.

Just do the honourable thing like BMC PLoS and eLife and PeerJ and make it


That’s simple. It’s BLACK but it reads the same in any colour

Tuberculosis: Raising Awareness Through Research

One of the world’s deadliest infectious diseases has been with us since the time of the ancient Greeks and Romans. It has been found in thousand-year-old Egyptian mummies and is still present in millions of homes today. What is this ancient disease you may ask? Tuberculosis.

Pulmonary tuberculosis (TB) is a contagious bacterial infection in the lungs, which can spread to other organs. According to the CDC, TB is one of the most common infectious diseases in the world. And although significant progress has been made to eliminate this illness, 9 million new cases of tuberculosis were reported in 2011.

Tuberculosis is spread when an individual is exposed to a sneeze or cough of a person suffering from the disease. TB can also be contracted if someone has poor nutrition or living conditions.  In some cases, the infection can lie dormant in the body for years, and in others, it may become active and cause major complications. The primary stage of tuberculosis has no symptoms, but as the disease progresses, patients can suffer from bloody coughs, fatigue, fever and weight loss.

Ancient Roman physicians recommended treatments including bathing in human urine, eating wolf livers and drinking elephant blood. Today, though, modern medicine has found that Tuberculosis is preventable and treatable by more modern methods,  with early treatment being essential to stopping its progression.

In honor of World TB Day, observed yesterday on March 24th, here are some recently published papers from PLOS ONE on the subject:

Diabetes is a risk factor for TB, and it can also affect the severity of the infection and success of treatment. In a recent study, authors have researched the connection between diabetes, smoking and tuberculosis.  The cohort study featured patients suffering from their first episode of tuberculosis. Out of the 657 participants analyzed, diabetes was present in 25 percent, which increased the risk of death in the first 12 months after enrollment. Tobacco smoking also increased the risk of TB and caused further complications among diabetic patients.

In another recently published paper, researchers have investigated the outcome of aggressive treatments for multidrug-resistant tuberculosis. The patients analyzed were treated in a national outpatient program in Peru from 1999 to 2002. Participants received individualized regimens for laboratory-confirmed tuberculosis.  In this cohort examination, authors found that TB was cured in 66 percent of the patients, showing that aggressive regimens for multidrug-resistant tuberculosis can be extremely successful.

Lastly, the link between poverty and TB has been well established, but the mechanisms behind this link have not.  In a third PLOS ONE paper, authors investigated why the poor are at a greater risk for tuberculosis in India.  With data from the 2006 Demographic Health Survey, researchers analyzed incidences of TB and household economic status. They found low body mass index and air pollution may be partly responsible for the link between poverty and tuberculosis.

Further initiatives are needed to assist in the global eradication of tuberculosis. To expand your own awareness of this infectious disease, please explore additional PLOS ONE research here.



Reed GW, Choi H, Lee SY, Lee M, Kim Y, et al. (2013) Impact of Diabetes and Smoking on Mortality in Tuberculosis. PLoS ONE 8(2): e58044. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0058044

Mitnick CD, Franke MF, Rich ML, Alcantara Viru FA, Appleton SC, et al. (2013) Aggressive Regimens for Multidrug-Resistant Tuberculosis Decrease All-Cause Mortality. PLoS ONE 8(3): e58664. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0058664

Oxlade O, Murray M (2012) Tuberculosis and Poverty: Why Are the Poor at Greater Risk in India? PLoS ONE 7(11): e47533. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0047533

Image: By isafmedia on Flickr

#scholrev: Strategy and decentralisation

I have already suggested our #scholrev should be decentralized (




) – now I’ll say why and suggest how we proceed.

Those of us in #scholrev are disillusioned enough that we want to do something different. Perhaps the most well promoted was “an alternative to Google Scholar” (http://www.force11.org/node/4291 ) by Stian Håklev .

We need an open alternative to Google Scholar (like OSM [OpenStreetMap] is to GMaps). Imagine OJS/EPrints/DSpace pinging a central server with bibliographic metadata whenever a new article is published (like blogs pinging pingomatic), letting users contribute their own bibliographies. Every article would have a unique ID, enabling easy citation in any setting (a simple API would give citations in any format given the identifier, would also let you look a PDF file based on its hash, like MusicBrainz, or search). The database would be available for bulk download and data mining. Strongly integrated into all OA tools/citation managers, etc.

Why hasn’t this happened already? Because libraries would rather buy things than build them. That gets us locked into an increasing cycle of deprivation – the more we buy the less capacity we have for building. And every year it gets worse. We already see that institutional repositories look 10 years out of date – they aren’t full, no-one wants to put things in, they can’t be searched etc. Compare that with Stackoverflow, Github and Bitbucket, OpenStreetMap, etc. and you can escape the sense of frustration.

We want to do our own thing.

So for me, #scholrev has the following drivers:

  • Innovation
  • Social justice
  • Cost-effectiveness
  • Democracy

How to proceed? We have a lot of ground to catch up. But if OSM could change the world in 5 years so can we. We face two main problems:

  • The indifference and possibly hostility of universities
  • Lawyers and vested interests

The first problem just requires courage and determination (Wikipedia was trashed by Universities until they couldn’t ignore it). The second is a real problem and we have to minimise it. But both suggest that we should have some or all of our work outside the current academic infrastructure. If we are to reach out to the #scholarlypoor (the global South, SMEs everywhere, patients, etc.) we cannot do this through centralised mechanisms. Wikipedia and OSM had single clear goals initially (an open encyclopedia of everything, and an open map of the world). Our task is more varied. The grand visions for reforming scholarship include (and you will think of more) :

  • Machine semantic Indexing/access to some/all of the literature (“some” if the lawyers stop us doing “all”)
  • Democratising scholarship
  • Creative approaches to combining scholarship and authoring
  • Intelligent machines for reading and interpreting the literature
  • Alternatives to monographs

(these are all impossible at present).

These visions are too large and varied to plan top-down and must be bottom-up. They are also too large to coordinate at a detailed level. However #scholrev has shown there are lots of groups starting to do-their-own-thing. The history of the web shows that some of these will flourish and others won’t. This is an absolute judgment, it’s more that the time is right for some and not for others (it’s taken us 20 years to get semantic Chemistry moving). So we shouldn’t judge new developments too quickly but give them time to flourish.

What about duplication and waste? Wouldn’t (say) 20 independent authoring systems be worse than none at all? Shouldn’t we coordinate this centrally and have just one? In fact both are problematic. In the Blue Obelisk (v.i.) we’ve effectively solved this by constantly keeping in touch and watching what others do. For example I once spent a lot of time on developing a graphical display for chemistry. It wasn’t very good. And then I saw Jmol (http://jmol.org) and realised that *I* didn’t need to do it all myself.

I junked my code. A year’s worth. And rejoiced. From there we went on to the Blue Obelisk and now we have this great ecosystem. A few partial duplicates – but that’s useful for checking correctness, different platforms. And because we have legitimised the idea of components that interoperate the world has come to understand and respect what we have done.

That’s the key step. We don’t have to boil the ocean by ourselves. Or even in our groups. We build components. It’s the right way to build.

Can you publish components in high-impact closed journals?

Probably not. But that is not why we are building them. By building components we can reach out well beyond academia. An open scholarly indexer does not have to be built solely or even by academics. Let’s get software engineers and journalists and graphic designers involved. And patients.

We couldn’t have done this 5 years ago. We can now. What’s happened?

  • Wikipedia, OSM have shown that grand visions can be accomplished
  • GalaxyZoo has shown that meaningful subtasks can be created and that huge numbers of citizens can take part. Bringing their own innovation and enhancing the process.
  • StackOverflow has shown that social tools can be compelling and exciting
  • Github and Bitbucket have shown how to create repositories that people want to put things in because these repos do something useful
  • New lightweight tools such as NoSQL , d3.js, and HTML5
  • (and in Open Knowledge Foundation) we see the world outside academia adopting new ideas by the week.

So we can’t tell where and how the new things will happen. Something that looked impossible 2 years ago may now be very tractable. Glueing distributed systems together is far easier than it used to be.

So a distributed system is now a positive asset, not a problem to be solved by aggregation and central control. In the same way the communities can be glued by modern approaches and culture. That’s why I’m suggesting we should be distributed but communicating.

There are only a few basic rules:

  • Respect others
  • Try to work with people rather than compete
  • Keep everything completely open. An open API is problematic if the data can’t be dumped. Code relying on a closed component will crash when that component disappears.
  • Creating and giving are critically important. Some jobs are boring, tedious and necessary. We must find social ways of making them worthwhile.

So we can have more than one discussion list. More than one wikipage. Let’s first see what we can offer rather than what we want to accomplish. (Doesn’t have to be gold-plated.) And make these creations and their creators easy to find.

To start the process here’s some of what I and my collaborators can Openly offer:

  • A PDF2XHTML converter for scholarly articles and converters
  • Pubcrawler to discover and collect bibliographic metadata
  • Semantic scientific units of measurement
  • Semantic tools for physical science (especially chemistry) (useful for indexing and transforming)

So let’s see what we want to bring to and get from our marketplace of tools and ideas.


#scholrev: #BTPDF2, FORCE11, Current position and ways forward

I’m blogging some of my ideas about the Scholarly Revolution (#scholrev) and how it should proceed. I’ve already said I think it should be decentralised and I’ll explain what that means and why. I’m going to concentrate on the underlying social and political aspects – the technologies will follow. But first I am recapping where it started.

To recap, we gathered for an ad hoc meeting at Beyond the PDF 2 at lunchtime on Wednesday (2013-03-20) and we’ve been blogging and tweeting since then. #scholrev would not have happened without the wider meeting which Maryanne Martone has described at http://www.force11.org/node/4326 .

I think that I share with many the recollection that BtPDF1 was a unique and transformative event. It was the first venue where many different groups with clearly a lot of pent up frustration with the current state of scholarly communication and a lot of tools and ideas for moving us beyond the pdf (including new types of pdf’s) came together.  Unlike most conferences where there were a few polite questions, the discussion was lively and uninhibited.  I’d been to conferences where hash tags were posted, but few people used them beyond a few graduate students.  Here the twitter stream regularly exploded and discussion lists were used well before and after the conference..   Many of the audience were clearly masters of new modes of feedback and communication and weren’t afraid to use them.  Indeed, it was the level of enthusiasm and the quality of the discussion that led to formation of FORCE11, because we wanted a vehicle for capturing and focusing the energies on display.  FORCE11 and its Manifesto was produced by the follow up workshop at Dagstuhl later that year.   But I consider the first BtPDF conference the beginning of the movement, if we can call it one. 

PMR: Agreed. I was at BTPDF1 and felt it was transformative and exciting. I wasn’t at Dagstuhl so I can’t comment on the atmosphere. But yes, I hoped that something would come from BTPDF1 and looked for it in BTPDF2.

Looking over the program from the first BtPDF, we are clearly continue to struggle with some of the same issues:  semantic mark-up, authoring tools, data, nano-publications.  But a lot of work has been done and a lot of progress made.  … Open Access is being openly debated and supported by funding agencies, institutional repositories and researchers. 

PMR: I was particularly concerned about authors at BTPDF1 and the way they are treated in the current system. They have no effective voice and are largely pawns in any debate of #openaccess (and there is little constructive debate). The authors should be a major part of new communications, as should the readers and both groups have been marginalised. Personally I feel no excitement for the current approaches (“Green” and “Gold”) which both allow injustice, vested interests and massive waste to continue.

So are we done yet?  I would say no.  By and large, I would say, we still have failed to deliver tools and convincing use cases to the larger scholarly community, who are still locked in old modes of publishing and evaluation.  All one has to do to have one’s enthusiasm on the state of scholarly publication dampened is to sit on a promotion committee or a meeting of an editorial board. 

And that’s the problem. Put simply, while rich (Northern) academics debate evaluation, publications are still locked by piublishers.

And lack of publications mean people die. I’ve said that before and Eve Gray said it very clearly at the meeting. The first three presentations at BTPDF2 addressed the inequities, but the meeting slipped into cosy introspection during the rest. The meeting should have been angry at injustice. It wasn’t.

Data:  where to put it, what to do with it, when to do it, and who will do it, still looms over everything. 

YES. And unless we do something different we’ll end up with the same mistakes – data publication controlled by vested interests. (Some weeks ago a librarian came to me and said: “Isn’t it wonderful, we can now buy a data citation index”. I screamed).

The scholarly corpus in biomedical science is still fractionated, with no global access to the entire biomedical literature by automated agents.  The inefficiences of spending large amounts of time and money to turn complex research objects into digestible narratives and then an equally large amount of money trying to extract and recover the research objects from the narrative still need to be overcome.  And, as will be explored in the business case, we still haven’t figured out the model that will pay for it all. 

Biomedical science would be automated if it was legally allowed by the publishers (I sit on EuropePMC and we could index the whole literature technically.) Get angry, for goodness sake!

But I am confident that change is a comin’ and I look forward to BtPDF2 as an incubator and catalyst for that change. 

I looked for fundamental changes at BTPDF2 and I didn’t see them. A great deal of incremental stuff about how we could tinker with the current system. Very little about its fundamental sickness. About how we could revise the scholarly monograph (i.e. books) – we had a good lead on that but no follow-up. Well the world is reinventing the book and academics don’t seem to realise that books are for reading, not primarily for generating an ivory tower reputation.

Which is why we so rapidly gathered a group under the banner of “Scholarly Revolution”. I don’t know whether BTPDF2 will generate revolution, but it’s got to start doing it soon or not at all. It needs to tap into the twenty-first century and here are some ideas:

  • Make change, don’t just talk about it. I’m now so used to hackathons that I find 2 days sitting and listening to people talking makes my fingers twitchy. I and others said that next time there must be a hackathon where we create something new.
  • Bring in the outside world and listen to them. Academia is behind the times, not in front of it. At our hackdays we get journalists, medics, banks, creatives, central and local government and much more. They’re not hung-up about impact factors – they want to see information developed into communal knowledge. Tools that promote democracy. New ways of working.
  • Trust the young. The new world is a young world, not a continuation of the existing one. I was pleased to see special representation of young people and I hope they are brave enough to say what they want.
  • Fight injustice. The current system is seriously unjust – to the world.

I’m grateful to #BTPDF2 organizers for the meeting. Maryanne has rightly asked that we link to http://force11.org. and they have highlighted #scholrev. . I’m very happy for FORCE11 to provide resources for #scholrev. But they will only keep connected if they each tap into the other’s social and political dynamics.

#scholrev: Decentralized Open infrastructure: an example from The Blue Obelisk

I have suggested that the Scholarly Revolution should be decentralized and communicating and this post gives an example of why and how. “Decentralized” means that no one person or subgroup is critical to its operation and more importantly its continued operation. It also means that we do not have to agree on everything (and we certainly shan’t – the mess in “Open Access” should be a clear warning). We should not have to rely on key components – for example building the roads before the houses and then finding people don’t want to live where the roads are but where they can cross the river.

The good news is that information infrastructure can be very cheap and – certainly at an early stage – can be radical altered (refactored) if the community wants. The key thing is COMMUNICATION. As long as we know what other people are doing and saying many of the difficulties are solved.

So here’s an example of a bottom-up community that works. It costs me 20 pounds a year to run – that’s less than a dinner. It’s growing and it’s changing the world of chemical science. It would continue to run and flourish if I weren’t able to be involved. Everyone has their own homestead (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Homesteading_the_Noosphere ) but there is also a commons. It’s a bazaar (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Cathedral_and_the_Bazaar – if you don’t know this, read it – it’s Open). There are other similar metaphors – “cooperative”, “tietotalkoot” (http://p2pfoundation.net/Rural_Cooperation_and_the_Online_Swarm ), “marketplace”, etc.

I’ve written it as part of a chapter we’ve offered for the http://www.openforumacademy.org/ because it’s more important to spread new ideas than gain impact factor.

Bottom-up Open Chemistry – the Blue Obelisk


Chemical software and data is a major activity, almost certainly exceeding 1Billion USD per year. But almost all of it is Closed, represented mainly by domain-specific software companies and traditional STM publishers. This is often aggressively protected; when the NIH set up an Open[*] database of chemicals and compounds the American Chemical Society (ACS) lobbied to politically to have this curtailed and threatened Wikipedia with legal action for publishing the widely used CAS identifiers for chemicals. A major software producer will take legal action against licensees who publish program output, including bugs.

A number of independent, often unfunded, chemical hacker activities grew up during the 1990′s and by 2000 a handful of codes were available but there was little continuity or coordination. We used to meet occasionally at ACS meetings and in 2006 we met in a bar near the large Blue Obelisk in Horton Plaza , San Diego. We felt that we had a consensus of philosophy, that the world undervalued our software and that we had the potential to change the future. We then agreed to loosely coordinate (not pool) our efforts. I suggested the name “Blue Obelisk” and our mantra ODOSOS – “Open data, Open Standards, Open Source “. To support this we created a Wiki, a mailing list and agreed to meet for dinner whenever we had a critical mass. There is no budget, no membership, no formal mechanisms – the mantra is our collective and very powerful DNA.

This has proved extremely successful and might work in other disciplines. We have about twenty projects which are happy to be counted as Blue Obelisk (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Blue_Obelisk ) and which fit into our criteria of ODOSOS. Our dinners are open to all – and closed source providers have attended and been relaxed. In 2007 we published a paper outlining our components. Recently we reviewed this in a 2011 paper with about 20 groups as authors.

When someone or organization does something meritorious (normally an identifiable software product or data resource) I award a quartz Blue Obelisk (remarkably these are common and inexpensive). These loose traditions work. We now have software components in most of the chemical infrastructure for pharmaceuticals and increasingly in materials. The biggest problem is data – chemists do not publish machine computable data (though they should) , instead embedding a subset in formal (Closed Access) publications. We have machine extraction software but risk being prosecuted for extracting data.

Governance is minimal and we have been blessedly spared form either factionalism or imperialism. Each project is self-contained but uses other B/O libraries where possible or more recently runs them as web services. The main language is Java, followed by Python and C(++) – with some historical FORTRAN. There is generally a leader to each project and while the Benevolent Dictator for Life (BDFL) occurs the commonest is “Doctor Who”, where the Doctor hands on to a successor at irregular intervals.

Originally dismissed as cranks, we are now taken seriously. Companies (e.g. Kitware, NY, and CCG) contribute significant amounts of code (and as importantly) the critical mass of internal and external confidence. National labs (e.g. PNNL in US) have been awarded Blue Obelisk for collaborating on Open Source. We know that or code is widely used in pharma companies but we have few metrics (a common problem of Open Source in secretive industries).

As with all volunteer Open Source projects we do not have clear timelines, but progress over the last 5 years has been very good. It’s possible to find high-quality components in most subdomains, including unit and regression testing.

The main problems we face are that chemistry (surprisingly) often does not engineer its own solutions but prefers to buy them. This puts a value on shrink-wrapping and hand-held maintenance which gratis Open Source cannot easily provide. Academics producing new code often get little credit and it’s worse when they reengineer existing solutions, even when the result is markedly superior. It’s also difficult to get funding (“it’s a solved problem”). The fragmented nature of the commercial domain makes semantic interoperability very difficult –companies protect legacy walled garden approaches. The internal messes created by unvalidated variants of legacy files in the pharma industry (e.g. when the result of a merger requires data reconciliation) has probably cost well over 100 million dollars in human effort, while the B/O could have provided common semantics.

However I think we are approaching a breakthrough. Chemical software has made few objective advances in the last 10-15 years so that we now have implemented most of the major algorithms. For an organization which takes a responsible view of costs and values innovation, the Blue Obelisk can be an attractive part of a solution.


[http:// http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/



? ^ Guha, R; Howard, MT; Hutchison, GR; Murray-Rust, P; Rzepa, H; Steinbeck, C; Wegner, J; Willighagen, EL (2006). “The Blue Obelisk-interoperability in chemical informatics”. Journal of chemical information and modeling
46 (3): 991–8. doi:10.1021/ci050400b. PMID 16711717. [for bean counters: cited 281]

? ^ O’Boyle, N; Guha, R; Willighagen, EL; Adams, SE; Alvarsson, J; Bradley, JC; Filippov, IV; Hanson, RM et al. (2011). “Open Data, Open Source and Open Standards in chemistry: The Blue Obelisk five years on”. Journal of Cheminformatics
3. doi:10.1186/1758-2946-3-37. PMC 3205042. PMID 21999342.



Latest Article Alert from Breast Cancer Research

The latest articles from Breast Cancer Research, published between 09-Mar-2013 and 23-Mar-2013

For research articles that have only just been published you will see a ‘provisional PDF’ corresponding to the accepted manuscript. Fully formatted PDF and full-text (HTML) versions will be made available soon.

It takes two to tango in the microenvironment!
Ursini-Siegel J, Park M

URGENT: Blogs could be banned in UK

The Open Rights Group has unearthed an appalling proposed restriction on bloggers like me. In essence regulation of the press will be extended to bloggers. Unless I get a licence I will be closed down. (I know some people would like this). We have till Monday to act. In http://www.openrightsgroup.org/campaigns/leveson :

Cameron, stop the Dangerous Blogs Bill

The Leveson regulations are being applied to UK websites – in ways that could catch more or less anyone who publishes a blog. Ordinary bloggers could be threatened with exemplary damages and costs. If this happens, small website publishers will face terrible risks, or burdensome regulation – and many may simply stop publishing.

Lord Leveson’s regulations are being applied to UK websites – in ways that could catch more or less anyone who publishes a blog. Ordinary bloggers could be threatened with exemplary damages and costs. If this happens, small website publishers will face terrible risks, or burdensome regulation – and many may simply stop publishing.

We have until Monday to stop this happening.

Lord Leveson said he wanted to regulate print media. He proposed that judges  be allowed to award exemplary damages and full costs against unregulated publishers. These are stringent and controversial measures, but he only envisaged them applying to large and powerful publishers. Not websites, unless they belonged to print publishers.

Last weekend, the proposals were agreed in a rush, without public consultation, and with no attention to the detail.

Outrageously, they have given the Lords until Monday to fix their mistakes.

The result is that they apply to any size of web publisher – if there’s more than one author, the content is edited and there’s a business involved, then you must join a self regulator.

Most blogs like this aren’t powerful publishing houses. Even ORGZine would need to be regulated, or face punitive measures if it ended up in court.

The threat of websites being regulated like this was never the purpose of Lord Leveson’s recommendations. Websites weren’t involved in phone hacking. There is no evidence that they need to be forced into self-regulation like this.

We need you to email Nick Clegg, Harriet Harman, and David Cameron to ask them to back off and leave the Internet out of Leveson.

A copy will go to your MP so they know how you feel as well.

Physiological Reports, new open access journal, is open for submissions

Physiological ReportsPhysiological Reports is now open for submissions, the first 100 articles accepted for publication will be published free of charge.  Susan Wray, Editor-in-Chief and Thomas Kleyman, Deputy Editor-in-Chief  lead the Editorial Board for the new online only, open access journal.  The journal will publish peer-reviewed research across all areas of basic, translational and clinical physiology and allied disciplines. Physiological Reports is a collaboration between The Physiological Society and the American Physiological Society, and is therefore in a unique position to serve the international physiology community through quick time to publication while upholding a quality standard of sound research that constitutes a useful contribution to the field.

The journal offers:

  • High standard, rigorous peer review
  • Rapid time from submission to decision
  • Rapid time from decision to publication
  •  ”Article by article publication” – no delay in waiting for the issue to close
  • Open Access – published articles are licensed under Creative Commons Attribution (CC BY), and authors are the copyright holders
  • Compliant with open access mandates
  • Wide dissemination
  • Promotion of, and publicity for quality research

Submit a manuscript >

#scholrev: Revolutionising Scholarship: HackYourPhD and shape and practice of the #scholrev community

Following our determination to create new ways of scholarship for the benefit of the world (http://blogs.ch.cam.ac.uk/pmr/2013/03/21/scholrev-why-are-we-doing-this-and-immediate-thoughts-on-how-to-proceed/ ) let’s explore possible approaches. I stress that this is NOT PMR directing where to go, but giving a possible lead.

This sort of desire to change or widen scholarship is happening in many places, not just #scholrev. Today I learnt of a French group (https://hackyourphd.wordpress.com/about-2/comment-page-1/ ) “Hack Your PhD”. They have tapped into the same spring of discontent and opportunity:

The HackYourPhD community was born out of an acknowledgement that current ways of performing research frequently generate frustration, conflits, and isolation. The crisis in research is sometimes covered in the media: job insecurity, rush to publication creating pressure and dishonest practices, privatization of knowledge through the grip of scientific publishing houses. This is a vision from the inside – that of research practitioners. This lack of trust is amplified by the numerous scandals that have occurred in the world of research, for instance through connections with private corporations whose goal is to generate profit, creating conflicts of interest.

HackYourPhD brings together students, young researchers, engaged citizens, hacktivists, tinkerers from all horizons, entrepreneurs, and everyone who is interested in the production and the sharing of knowledge in the wider sense. This collective aims to bring concrete solutions to complex issues and to build much-needed collaborative relationships between those involved in knowledge production. This is required for collective intelligence to come into existence and bring answers to urgent issues of society.

We believe that in an era of democratization of the tools of research, whether it be technical instruments for the natural sciences, or the exponential simplification of data access, research must be accessible to everyone.

We believe it is important to show that new ways of doing reseasrch exist, and can only benefit research itself as well as the relationship between science and society. We do not seek to revolutionize research, but rather question how it works and add complementary bricks so that it may adapt better to today’s world and respond in a well-adapted fashion to the scientific and human issues of tomorrow.


This is wonderfully compelling and echoes my own thoughts and I am sure those who gathered in Amsterdam 2 days ago. We are also getting mails and tweets of other groups – it’s almost overwhelming.

A natural reaction would be to try to integrate all these efforts. I think that would be wrong because each has its own freedom of action and directions of exploration. And in any case w don’t know precisely where we are going or who will join us or what barriers will be erected.

What I think we need is a communal meeting place to build the future. I think we need to look to successful communities over the centuries. Yesterday I learned a new work: “tietotalkoot” (http://p2pfoundation.net/Rural_Cooperation_and_the_Online_Swarm ) – which I think is a volunteer self-help community which builds things for the good of the community (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Talkoot ). I like the “Online Swarm” metaphor. I also like concepts such as “Commons”, “Marketplace”, “Bazaar”, “Cooperative”.

“Decentralisation with communication” also encapsulates it. We already have suggested subgroups and subtasks. They should just go ahead and create their artefacts – hacking – but make sure we know what’s happening so we won’t duplicate unnecessarily and so we’ll build on each other. And identify critical areas where we need something. Decentralisation means there is no limit to the number involved and no loss of identity.

In the internet era these things are excitingly possible. I’ll post later about my own experiences but I’m also very happy to learn of others.