Open research for public good - Chan

22 August 2011

Dr Leslie ChanInformation activism: Dr Leslie Chan of the University of Toronto wants research to be freely available.

With technology increasingly making it easier for people to connect even as social problems persist, it makes sense that open research is touted as the way to go.

And, as Dr Leslie Chan of the University of Toronto in Canada puts it, there is a link between research, access to research, and addressing global ills such as disease, climate change and poverty.

"The actions we take, even by not making our research available, could have serious consequences for all of us," he said.

Chan, a global authority on open research, was delivering a seminar, Global Perspectives on Open Research: A bird's eye view, organised by the Scholarly Communication in Africa Programme, OpenUCT and UCT's Research Office.

Open research is the use of internet and digital technologies to share research and includes open-access publishing, open data sharing, open educational resources, and the use of open-source software.

Chan based his argument on the fact that print journals are in decline, and there is an increase in networking and a return to the concept of the invisible college, in which scientists collaborate voluntarily - not because they work in the same field, but because they have complementary insight, data or skills.

The challenge, though, is to sustain and spread such innovations, he said.

Networks seem to be an answer.

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