My OpenCon 2017 Application
I include below my responses to the Interest in OpenCon section of the application I submited to attend OpenCon 2017 (the other sections of the application related to personal information which I do not include here), for which I was waitlisted. I'm pretty happy with this considering there were thousands of applicants for only a couple hundred places! You can read the response from the Organising Committee to my application at the bottom.
The University of Manchester Library however, held a competition for a sponsored place at OpenCon. I slightly remixed these answers for that application, which you can find here and which was successful!
Interest in OpenCon
The following questions are designed to help us get to know you and why you are interested in OpenCon. This is the most important part of your application. Please answer questions in English and pay careful attention to the limits on length.
What is your primary OpenCon area of interest?
Select the OpenCon issue area that interests you most. We understand that many applicants are interested in multiple issues on this list, but it is helpful to know which one you consider most interesting. Please note that OpenCon focuses on these issues in the specific context of research and education.
Who are you?
Please provide a brief biography about yourself. This may include what you do for work, what you study, what projects you're involved in, or what you are passionate about. Maximum 700 characters (~100 words).
I am a Research Associate and Open Science Champion at the Jodrell Bank Centre for Astrophysics (JBCA) at the University of Manchester. More specifically, I am a radio astronomer – think Jodie Foster in the movie Contact, except instead of listening to the telescope with giant headphones, I collect, calibrate, image and analyse radio data using novel processing techniques. I use these data to investigate the physics of how stars like our Sun form through observations of the birth of nearby stars here in the Milky Way. I am passionate about making science and academia more open and inclusive through promoting, advocating and organising events relating to open science in astronomy. (688)
Why are you interested in OpenCon?
In your own words, tell us why you are interested in Open Access, Open Education and/or Open Data and how these issues relate to your work. If you are already working on these issues please tell us how. Maximum 1400 characters (~200 words).
Much like other scientific fields, the astronomy community can be a closed and stressful environment. Although astronomy has been very successful in sharing publications on the open arXiv, data are often hoarded and methods vaguely described, making it nearly impossible to reproduce results and frustrating to build/iterate on the research of others. The reasons for this are diverse, but one prominent issue is a lack of understanding in the community about HOW to work in an open way. I am interested in OpenCon because open research practices reap benefits such as increases in citations, media attention, potential collaborators, job and funding opportunities, however many astronomers do not know how to harness these tools.
Particular topics from past programs that relate to my work include: how to communicate Openness effectively to academics; how to ensure your projects and organizations are diverse and inclusive; how to harness Open to advance your career; and how to do an Open Research Training. Best practices in Open Data and Open Source are also relevant as astronomy is increasingly dealing with Big Data and software development. OpenCon will make me a more confident advocate and allow me to disseminate these tools more effectively within my department in order to empower other researchers with the skills to work openly. (1345)
What are your ideas for advancing Open Access, Open Education and/or Open Data?
The biggest goal of OpenCon is to catalyze action to advance Open Access, Open Education and Open Data. Tell us what ideas you have for taking action on these issues, and how you would use (or are currently using) your experience with OpenCon to have an impact. Maximum 1400 characters (~200 words).
The JBCA itself is the perfect springboard to advance Openness in astronomy as it reaches more people than most other institutes - it hosts conferences, workshops, training courses, summer schools, seminars/colloquia and conducts public outreach through the Jodcast, the Jodrell Bank Discovery Centre and the Bluedot festival.
My ideas to advance Openness include (1) infusing open science into the already established forums at JBCA listed above; (2) collaborating with the cross-disciplinary Data Science Institute at the University to bring networking meet-ups such as XX+Data, Databeers and Astronomy on Tap to Manchester; (3) provide resources and training to senior researchers so they are best equipped to encourage their students and postdocs to work openly - in order to successfully mentor the next generation of open science practitioners we also need to target those who advise them; and (4) establish modules for graduate students with formal training on open research practices (e.g. version control, open access/source/data, reproducibility and automation). I intend to document everything, every step of the way in a blog and on GitHub so that Open Science Champions in other institutions can adapt materials and process to their needs and use.
I would highly benefit from the knowledge and training gained through OpenCon and would apply them to my Open Science agenda JBCA. (1390)
Response from the OpenCon 2017 Organising Committee
Thank you for applying to attend OpenCon 2017. This year, we received a record-setting number of applications from over 175 countries, and yours was among the strongest. Our reviewers felt that you demonstrated a commitment to Open causes, meaningful engagement in existing initiatives, and most of all—a potential to catalyze future progress on Open Access, Open Data, and Open Education in your community and beyond. However, the size and quality of the application pool required our Organizing Committee to make some extraordinarily difficult decisions, and we are not able to confirm a scholarship or place at the conference for you at this time.
You have been added to the OpenCon 2017 waitlist. If additional spaces at the meeting become available, we will notify you as soon as possible. We will notify all individuals of their final status by October 11. If you requested a scholarship, one factor that can affect our ability to invite you from the waitlist is the amount of scholarship funding you requested. If your need for a scholarship has changed, please let us know.
Please fill out the following form by September 22nd to confirm your spot on the waitlist.
We also want to remind you that you can participate remotely in OpenCon with OpenCon 2017 Live. Join us online from wherever you are to learn about Open issues, and build your network and take action. You’ll be able to watch sessions in real time with our live-stream, discuss ideas and projects with other participants and participate in OpenCon’s do-a-thon. Remote participants are eligible to receive official certificates once feedback on participation is provided. To RSVP and find more information, head here.
We deeply appreciate your patience and interest in OpenCon. As we’ve said before, OpenCon is a community, and we’re glad you’re a part of it.
The OpenCon 2017 Organizing Committee