Force 2016: Transforming Research One Re-tweet At a Time

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In the age of memes, GIFs and the internet of things, knowledge sharing has drastically changed. The second we throw content into the web, we bare our souls before multitudes of strangers and hope for the best. Will they read it? Will they care? A like. A retweet! Fantastic. They're engaging, and it feels good! But suddenly...silence. They liked, they shared -but they also moved on. What is missing? What can scientists do to engage people effectively with their ideas? And how can citizens around the world access, exchange, and use scientific knowledge in more meaningful ways?

The pains of embracing social media to enhance the impact of our research is one of the many challenges inspiring FORCE11 -a community of scholars, librarians, and students who aim to change modern scholarly communication through the effective use of information technology. F11's manifesto envisions a world in which knowledge is accessible, diverse and relevant for those who need it, and its members meet regularly to explore how digital scholarship can provide better tools for research impact, as well as more opportunities for stronger representation and participation from global scholars. (Read Melissa Haendel's blog: May the FORCE11 be with the Research Parasites to learn more about F11's perspective on the state of scholarly communication.)

In only a few weeks, the collective will gather at Portland, Oregon for the FORCE2016: 'Building Bridges, Connecting Knowledge' Conference from April 17-19, to rethink the strategies, tools, and values that will guide this change. The conversation will focus on new and emerging trends in scholarly publishing that enhance transparency and participation at all stages of the research cycle. Chat rooms, social networks, blogging, visualization among other informal sites of knowledge sharing, are revitalizing the research ecosystem in unprecedented ways, and delegates will get the opportunity to discuss, challenge or learn more about the effectiveness and accessibility of these trends for wider engagement and participation in science. 

Fascinating presentations and workshops will unpack the theme further. This year’s keynote speakers: John Brownstein, Cassidy Sugimoto, and Philip Bourne, will address how to maximize public engagement and hence, the value of public health knowledge by changing incentive structures and capitalizing on the benefits of digital social tools. Open discussion sessions, including: “Communicate our Scholarship Effectively: We Share, We Write but Are We Understood?” will explore psychology and media arts-based tactics for effective communication; “Data by the People, for the People” will unpack ethical challenges and security concerns of opening up people-centred data, and the exciting “Pitch it!: Innovation Challenge”, which will screen actual (and virtual) conference participants competing for a seed fund of $1K to kick start a new project. (You can start gathering your thoughts and teams anytime between now and April 18. Upload your pitch using the Jisc Elevator Pitch software).

Having said that, what makes Force16 truly exciting is the diversity of voices who will be joining the conversation. 34 fellows from 22 countries, including representatives from Latin America, Africa, and Asia, were selected for their rich disciplinary backgrounds, strong opinions on the barriers impeding equitable access to global scholarship and above all, their unique vision for the future. Over the next few weeks, we will get to know them through a series of blogs showcasing their stories and how they are transforming research at home. (Follow us on Twitter to hear them first), but what you really want to do, is head to Portland and meet them in person. To this day, not even retweets can beat face to face. 

If you haven’t registered for Force 2016, there’s still time to sign up and get the early bird rate. For more information, click here.


About Denisse Albornoz

Denisse has a background in International Development and Sociology. She is a Research Assistant for OCSDNet (Open and Collaborative Science in Development Network), and is interested in the role of art, media-based and participatory methodologies to decolonize pedagogy and open up research. Ecuadorian, currently based in Toronto.

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