IFMSA @ OpenCon 2017

IFMSA was present at OpenCon 2017 from November 11th to November 13th with our Liaison Officer for Medical Education issues was attending in Berlin, Germany.

OpenCon is more than a conference. It’s a platform for the next generation to learn about Open Access, Open Education, and Open Data, develop critical skills, and catalyze action toward a more open system for sharing the world’s information—from scholarly and scientific research, to educational materials, to digital research data. OpenCon 2017 found itself  at the center of a growing community of thousands of students and early career academic professionals from across the world, working to create an open system for research and education.

IFMSA has maintained steady involvement with OpenCon since it was born in 2014. The IFMSA LME is part of the Organizing Committee, providing the medical students’ perspective in the development of the event itself.

Our main goal for the conference was to collect useful resources and exchange good practices among professionals from a variety of disciplinary fields. We also wanted to identify the strategic goals for our future involvement in the conference and our external partners therein. OpenCon also provides a great hub for discussing new ways of engagement in the field of Open Access, as well as as our newly voted policy statement.

The conference had an innovative approach for its program:

On the first day, welcomes were in order. Successful examples from scientists working on Open were presented, stories from advocates all over the world were shared and we also focused on different regional needs through regional sessions – for the first time in OpenCon. We also had the opportunity to participate in an Unconference, where attendees had the opportunity to completely shape the agenda and we established the importance of implementing concrete Open National Policies.

The second day involved presentations from young and early career leaders in the Open movement and the continuation of the regional workshops, where action was the focus. Another Unconference session also took place, based entirely on participants’ recommendations. The day concluded with a very important session on Diversity, Inclusion and Equity in Open Research and Education, highlighting the need to tackle the marginalization of underrepresented scholars and students and to raise awareness.

The third and final day focused fully on the first ever Do-a-thon to make, design, prototype, test, and learn in the name of advancing Open Research and Education, with topics proposed by participants. IFMSA was part of a Do-a-thon aiming to develop the content for an Open Access toolkit, not only for students but also early career researchers as well. The do-a-thon did not end with the conference, but will be an ongoing project beyond November 13th.

Detailed notes and outcomes of each conference session will be going live on the website for anyone to access. The clear conclusions, however, are the following:

  • Open awareness is necessary on a global scale to increase reachout; young advocates are crucial in this process
  • National Open Policies are needed
  • Evidence-based benefits of researching in the Open have to be shared in greater frequency
  • We need to hold the Open movement accountable in terms of diversity, equity and inclusion
  • Grassroot movements are key in consolidating Open Access, Open Educational Resources and Open Data

OpenCon 2017 was a wonderful and thought-provoking experience, gathering 186 individuals from a variety of backgrounds, fields and regions; IFMSA will be back for OpenCon 2018 to present its own work as well and we invite all our members to consider participating, too!

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