Bringing together scientists from various countries and fields of expertise to tackle a global concern was Sabina Leonelli’s goal in organising the workshop “Global Access to Open Software: Fostering Uptake” as a cooperation of the GYA Working Groups Open Science and Global Access to Research Software (GARS) and the Exeter Centre for the Study of the Life Sciences (Egenis). It was held in Byrne House of Exeter University on 22 January 2016 and focused on the result of a survey on the use of Open Software in developing countries conducted by members of GARS, under the leadership of Abdullah Shams Bin Tariq. The joint aim of these working groups is to foster the development and implementation of research communication strategies that are inclusive, effective, and conducive to collaboration and discovery across fields and locations – with a particular emphasis, in this case, on open access to research software, including both proprietary and Free and Open Source software.
In order to evaluate the current usage of and access to research software, the team had gathered extensive data from Ghana, Nigeria and Bangladesh collected by GYA members Abdullah Shams Bin Tariq (Bangladesh), Setonji Samuel Olatunbosun Sojinu (Nigeria) and Augustine Ocloo (Ghana). In the workshop, they presented a preliminary report to be discussed by participants of diverse backgrounds, spanning the natural sciences, social sciences and humanities as well as several different nationalities.
Although open for public, the focus of the event lay on an intense exchange between invited experts and the project team presenting the results of their survey so far. These experts included GYA members Martin Dominik and Abdullah Shams Bin Tariq (brought in live via Skype from Bangladesh), project researchers Ashraful Islam Khan and Louise Bezuidenhout, Niccolo Tempini, James Lowe and Brian Rappert from Egenis as well as Anne Powell from the partner institution INASP in Oxford that provides an additional network of researchers in 80 different countries. Participants received the opportunity to inform the writing of a report and a publication emerging from the research.
This expert feedback was an indispensable help for the researchers in order to evaluate and contextualise the survey findings. “This event was a really good example of what the GYA can do and what real collaboration between very different countries with different research cultures, and also very different disciplines, can achieve”, she summarizes her experience of the day.
The outcome of an extensive workshop day: New inputs, new partners and new support. Publishing and sharing the results will offer major insights into the Open Data use particularly in developing countries, providing important insights for further research and possible guidelines to inform current science policies concerned with Open Science. For Sabina Leonelli, Abdullah Shams Bin Tariq and their team, however, it is only one step on the long journey of promoting equal access to research opportunities and Open Software worldwide.