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Testing the boundaries of Open Access

Titled “The limits of ‘open’: Why knowledge is not a public good and what to do about it”, Professor Cameron Neylon will deliver the #citylis International Open Access Week Lecture on 22nd October.
by John Stevenson (Senior Communications Officer)

Dr Cameron NeylonProfessor Cameron Neylon will deliver the 2015 #citylis International Open Access Week Lecture, at 5:30pm on 22nd October. He is Professor of Research Communication at the Centre for Culture and Technology at Curtin University and an advocate of open research practice who has always worked in interdisciplinary areas of research. The lecture, which will be held in the Birley Lecture Theatre, R101 (Franklin Building) is organised by the Centre for Information Science and will be chaired by Lecturer in Library Science, Dr Ernesto Priego. It is a strongly held view that efforts to adopt and require Open Access and Open Data in 21st Century research enterprise, mark a return to the 17th Century values lying at the root of the development of modern scholarship. If this is indeed the case, why has the acceptance of Open Access and Open Data been so difficult?

Have these 17th Century values been lost or sacrificed in order to make a limited case for the importance of academic scholarship? Or is there something more fundamentally wrong with the academic community?

Limits of open knowledge

Drawing on his work which cuts across the fields of economics, cultural studies, politics and management, Professor Neylon, a former Advocacy Director at PLOS (the Public Library of Science), argues that the goals of Open Knowledge are unattainable:

“Knowledge is not and can never be a true public good”.

He says that another set of questions should instead be posed:

“How is it, or can it be, in the interests of communities to invest in making their knowledge less exclusive and more public? What do they get in return? By placing (or re-placing) the interests of communities at the centre we can understand, and cut through, the apparent dilemma that “information wants to be free” but that it also “wants to be expensive”. By understanding the limits on open knowledge we can push them, so that, in the limit, they are as close to open as they can be.”

Generic and specially designed tools

Professor Neylon was a Senior Scientist at the Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC) Isis Neutron and Muon Facility and a tenured senior academic at the University of Southampton. He has always worked in interdisciplinary areas of research.

His earlier work in structural biology and biophysics focuses on the interface of web technology with science and the successful (and unsuccessful) application of generic and specially designed tools in the academic research environment. He is a co-author of the Panton Principles for Open Data in Science and the Altmetrics Manifesto, and writes regularly on the social, technical, and policy issues of open research at his blog, Science in the Open.

Dr Priego is delighted to be welcoming Professor Neylon to City for the annual Open Access Week Lecture:

“City's Department of Library and Information Science is proud to be part of the International Open Access Week with this public lecture. Cameron's research and advocacy work has been at the forefront of the Open Access debate in the UK and around the world and this promises to be a unique occasion to continue the conversation on where we can take Open Access in the future within interdisciplinary areas."

To register for this free event, please visit this weblink.

Open Data

Open data is data that can be freely used, re-used and redistributed by anyone - subject only, at most, to the requirement to attribute and sharealike.

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