Research Transparency & Open Knowledge: Lessons from #OKFest14

By Guillaume Kroll (CEGA)

Over a thousand scientists, activists, and civil society representatives from over 60 countries gathered in Berlin last week for the 2014 Open Knowledge Festival (OKFest14). The Festival is the flagship event of the Open Knowledge Foundation, an international nonprofit promoting open tools, data, and information for the positive transformation of society.

Welcome Ceremony at OKFest14 © Guillaume Kroll
Welcome Ceremony at OKFest14 © Guillaume Kroll

It’s a well-oiled event, full of energy and creativity, bringing together an eclectic group that goes as far as to include street artistsEU commissioners, and a lot of data geeks scientists, to build a community around the ideals of openness and transparency.

Below is an overview of cool tools, resources, and other pieces of advice gathered at the Festival pertaining to social science research:

  • The Open Access Button, an in-browser software that lets you report when you are denied access to the research you need (e.g. hitting a paywall) and helps you find alternative ways of accessing it. It also acts as a crowdsourced tool to map journals and institutions that do not offer open access.
  • PeerLibrary, a database of open access publications with an additional space to share insights, exchange feedback, and ask questions about open science research.

    Wise Words from Master Yoda © ScienceOpen
    Wise Words from Master Yoda © ScienceOpen
  • ScienceOpen, a new platform for scientific communication, which combines an open access journal, a study registration portal, and informal networking groups — encompassing much of the new trends in scholarly exchanges.
  • The School of Data, a global community of open data believers teaching data wrangling skills. Online and offline courses are available to researchers, journalists, civil society organizations, and average citizens alike.
  • HackYourPhD, a grassroots community of young researchers advocating for more open, collaborative, and inclusive ways of doing research to serve society at large.

    A Nice Infographic On How Open Science Integrate With the Research Process © Celina Ramjoué
    A Nice Infographic On How Open Science Tools Integrate With the Research Process © Celina Ramjoué
  • Foster, a new project to support EU researchers who follow open science practices in optimizing their research visibility and impact.
  • Hands-on courses from the Open Data Institute, including data anonymisation and risk control, novel web technologies, and legal and licensing aspects of open data.
  • Tools for Text and Data Mining (TDM), including text concordancing (CasualConc or AntConc), topic modeling (MALLET or Christopher Manning’s toolbox), content mining (ContentMine) and others.

    Much of the Networking Happened in the Courtyard © Guillaume Kroll
    Much of the Networking Happened in the Courtyard © Guillaume Kroll
  • An overview of fundamental skills for modern open science, by Karthik Ram. These include:
    1. A markup language for scientific writing, such as Markdown (easier than LaTeX) using StackEdit for real-time text display;
    2. A programming language, preferably R (and its many open source packages) or Python (and its IPython Notebook) for best reproducibility;
    3. A version control system, such as Git with a graphical interface like GitHub, to track changes to collaborative research projects; and
    4. Social media services, especially Twitter, to interact with peers, increase visibility, and find new funders.

Missed anything? Add your OKFest14 experiences below. You can find more about the Open Knowledge Festival on their website and on twitter.