Communities of practice and the pursuit of Open Science on a global scale

Posted by d.barclay on 6 September 2023 - 12:30pm

Group picture taken at Collaborations Workshop 2023By SSI Fellow Reina Camacho Toro (CNRS/LPNHE and LA-CoNGA physics), Nicolas Palopoli (UNQ-CONICET and MetaDocencia), and Camila Rangel Smith (The Alan Turing Institute).

The Software Sustainability Institute (SSI) hosted its first ever hybrid Collaborations Workshop (CW23) in Manchester, UK, and online between May 2 and 4, 2023. CW23 brought together researchers, developers, funders, policymakers and teachers all gathered around the topic of sustainable technical, personal and career development in the research software community. There were three days of keynote presentations, discussion panels and lightning talks driven by a caring community with a strong focus on respect, communication and inclusivity. 

As part of CW23, LA-CoNGA physics and MetaDocencia, with the support of The Turing Way, organised a hybrid in-person+online workshop exploring whether current concepts and practices around Open Science are perceived as global and universal. We piloted a survey designed to highlight successful experiences and understand current barriers and possible improvements needed for the implementation of Open Science in Latin America. 

Among the difficulties the 18 workshop participants raised in the survey, we can cite limitations in accessing funding and lack of institutional support and recognition. They highlighted that these barriers are sometimes aggravated in the Global South due to asymmetries in the potential to apply for and receive funds and in the availability of computational resources and high-speed, reliable internet connection. The participants also shared and discussed during the session some good practices for making inter-regional and/or inter-institutional collaboration easier, like facilitating access to technical training, practising cultural awareness, enabling translation and contextualisation of materials from English, devising clear communication of plans and goals, and using work methodologies adapted to remote working, e.g. time-zone varying telecons, sharing recordings, etc. Some of these recommendations can be implemented locally/internally in the different organisations and initiatives. However, some of the changes, like providing funding alternatives, will require top-down policies from major organisations and government institutions in order to make the efforts sustainable. 

The outcome of the session has been used as the basis for a survey-based project, part of Reina’s SSI/OLS fellowship project, which explores the interactions of initiatives, programs and/or organisations that promote open science with the science diplomacy schemes in Latin America.

A big shout out to the organizing committee for the effort of bringing people together in person and remotely, and thanks to everyone involved for making our first Collaboration Workshop an unforgettable experience.

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