Grants:PEG/SPARC/OpenCon 2016/Report

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This report for a Project and Event grant approved in FY 2016-17 has been reviewed and accepted by the Wikimedia Foundation.
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OpenCon 2016 PEG Grant Report[edit]

Achieving Grant Goals[edit]

This PEG grant enabled 11 members of the Wikimedia community to participate in the OpenCon 2016 conference in Washington, DC. OpenCon 2016 was organized by SPARC (the Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition), a global coalition committed to making Open the default for research and education. SPARC operates as a project of the New Venture Fund, a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization based in the United States.

Due to lower than expected flight costs, the WMF grant supported an even larger and more diverse group than originally proposed. Ultimately, 11 Wikimedia community members from 10 countries across Africa, Asia, Europe, Latin America, North America, and Oceania participated in OpenCon with the support of this grant. This significantly exceeded the original estimate of 8 participants from 5 countries. In addition, four staff members from the Wikimedia Foundation and affiliated national organizations also participated but paid for their own costs. In Appendix A, you can find a list of the individuals selected to participate with the support of this PEG grant. As outlined in the grant proposal, these selections were made in consultation with the WMF legal team and members of the Wikimedia community.

All WMF-supported OpenCon attendees participated in the full conference. During the event, they learned more about OpenCon’s core issue areas (Open Access, Open Education, and Open Data), met potential collaborators from around the world, and led sessions during breakouts and on the main stage. As described in the grant proposal, WMF-supported participants hosted a workshop on open-related initiatives within Wikimedia projects and how other participants can get involved. Wikimedia community members were also featured in four other areas on the program: 2 unconference sessions and 2 project presentations. The project presentations were made from the main stage, and the unconference sessions and workshop received 81 registrations, or approximately one-third of all participants. Please see Appendix B for an overview of OpenCon 2016 programming led by Wikimedia community members.

The attendees supported by the PEG grant also participated in a half-day advocacy training and put that training to use in meetings with the US Congress, with Executive Branch Agencies, and with NGOs and IGOs based in the Washington DC area. Specifically, OpenCon attendees met with the following groups:

  • Congressional offices of the following members: Lofgren (D-CA), Cardin (D-MD), Capito (R-WV), Doyle (D-PA), Menendez (D-NJ), Farenthold (R-TX), Yoder (R-KS), Schatz (D-HI), Markey (D-MA), Peters (D-MI), Flake (R-AZ), Buschon (R-IN), Scott (R-SC), Moulton (D-MA), Kilmer (D-WA), Casey (D-PA), Cornyn (R-TX), Wyder (D-OR), Brown (D-OH), Cassidy (R-LA), Warner (D-VA), Franken (D-MN), and Shaheen (D-NH).
  • US Federal Agencies: National Institutes of Health, Institute of Museum & Library Services, Department of Education, and Department of State.
  • Foundations, NGOs, and IGOs: Open Society Foundations, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, New America Foundation, Patient Centered Outcomes Research Institute, US National Academy of Sciences
  • Embassies: Serbian Embassy to the United States

Using a 1-10 rating scale with 1 being much less likely and 10 being much more likely, participants indicated an average of 7.6 when asked to rate how much more likely their experience during the advocacy day would change the likelihood that they will get involved in similar advocacy efforts at home. All meetings were issue education and were not in support of specific legislation. None of the activities reported here qualify as lobbying under United States law.

Reflections submitted by six of the eleven supported individuals confirm that their experience at OpenCon was helpful in allowing them to make new connections in the Open Access, Open Education, and Open Data spaces, in equipping them to advance advocacy efforts in their local contexts, and in helping to bridge the OpenCon and Wikimedia communities. These reflections can be read in full in Appendix C. The remaining five individuals did not submit reflections. The general survey feedback data similarly indicates OpenCon’s positive impact on participants.

Highlights include:

  • 88% of survey respondents plan to take action after OpenCon that they wouldn’t have before the meeting.
  • 37% of survey respondents found someone from their home country they plan to collaborate with after the meeting; 45% found a new collaborator from their region (but not their home country); and, 47% found a new collaborator from another region.
  • Using a 1-10 rating scale with 1 being not at all and 10 being completely, participants indicated an average of 8.4 when asked to rate the extent to which they were able to meet their goals for attending OpenCon 2016
  • Using a 1-10 rating scale with 1 being poor and 10 being outstanding, participants indicated an average of 9.2 when asked to rate their overall experience at OpenCon 2016.

This PEG grant for 2016 provided the foundation for significant continued cross pollination between the Wikimedia and OpenCon communities. We estimate there were at least 10 OpenCon participants at OpenCon 2017 who were also active in the Wikimedia community and 9 such participants at OpenCon 2018. Since 2016, OpenCon has also had 4 plenary session speakers as a result of collaboration with the Wikimedia Community (Siko Bouterse, Stacy Allison-Cassin, Jasmeen Patheja, and Leslie Chan). OpenCon’s International Organizing Committees for 2017 and 2018 both included individuals also active within Wikimedia communities. Another indicator of the strengthened connection between the two communities is that Felix Nartey, the 2017 Wikimedian of the Year, and Diego Gomez, the honorable mention for that same award mentioned by Jimmy Wales during Wikimania 2017, are both active members of the OpenCon community and were at the time of recognition.

OpenCon’s satellite event program also provides important evidence of the connection between the OpenCon and Wikimedia communities following the PEG grant. At least 11 OpenCon satellite events have included components related to Wikipedia or other Wikimedia projects. See Appendix D for a complete list.

We feel we met or exceeded all of the goals set out in the PEG grant proposal for OpenCon 2016. While the goals themselves were reached, not every measure of success went as planned. We did face challenges in confirming action and reporting back from supported participants following the 2016 meeting. While the majority of sponsored participants did submit reflections (Appendix C), we were unable to get report outs from everyone. While we believe many of the sponsored participants delivered trainings or were more active in advocacy following the event (as indicated by the survey data), we had more difficulty than anticipated in confirming this. However, as described above, we do feel we met the overall goals for this grant and its ultimate aim to increase collaboration between the OpenCon and Wikimedia communities.


Description Budgeted Actual Variance
Travel Total $12,304.00 $8,956.29 $3,347.71
International Travel Costs $8,800.00 $4,874.35 $3,925.65
Accommodations $2,544.00 $3,462.63 -$918.63
Travel agency booking fee $320.00 $450.00 -$130.00
Visa fees $640.00 $169.31 $470.69
Registration $2,400.00 $3,300.00 -$900.00
Overhead fee $1,396.00 $3,843.71 -$2,447.71
Total $16,100.00 $16,100.00 $0.00

The variance between the actual and budgeted amounts spent is driven by the lower than expected flight cost that enabled us to bring a larger number of sponsored participants than expected. This meant we had a lower flight cost but higher costs for accommodations, flight booking, and registration. The actual travel booking fee was also $10/flight more expensive than originally budgeted. We’ve also allocated a higher amount toward overhead because of the increased administrative costs associated with additional participants, follow up after the event, as well as finding an additional hotel to house many of the sponsored participants. Because the grant was approved close to the event itself, the block at the conference hotel had been filled necessitating alternative arrangements.

Receipts for all flights, accommodations, visas, and travel bookings have been provided to the Foundation. There were no receipts associated with the registration or overhead costs.  


Appendix A: OpenCon 2016 Participants Supported with WMF PEG Grant[edit]

[to be added]  

Appendix B: OpenCon 2016 Programming Led By Wikimedia Community Members[edit]

Workshop [Breakout]: How to effectively communicate in an international network of free knowledge stakeholders, led by Dimitar Dimitrov, Daniel Mietchen, Jake Orlowitz, Julia Schutze, John Weitzmann: 21 registered participants

Unconference [Breakout]: Wikipedia+Open Education at Your University, led by Vahid Masrour: 46 registered participants Can Wikipedia’s Citations Become Open?, led by Jake Orlowitz: 14 registered participants

Project Presentation [Main Stage]: Open Education and Wikipedia Education Program: Venus Mei Yee Lui OABOT: Making Wikipedia's Citations Accessible: Jake Orlowitz  Appendix C: Reflections from WMF-supported OpenCon 2016 Participants

Appendix C: Reflections from WMF-supported OpenCon 2016 Participants[edit]

Reflection 1 “After the Opencon2016, I have been trying my best to advance openness in Hong Kong. Actually I tried to arrange a meeting with Charles Mok, who represents the Information Technology functional constituency on the Hong Kong Legislative Council, to see what we can do for the openness in Hong Kong, and he agrees to help me with organising different activities to promote the idea in Hong Kong, and now we are negotiating the details.”

Reflection 2 “Working with the Sofia Municipality to progressively open up more and more of their datasets. Latest success - public transportation data.

I felt a bit lost, especially when it comes to open data. Never knew where to start. At OpenCon I met several people who were able to give me the right steps and the right pointers. I have had a similar experience with Open Access in research & education. All the "different" open terms and open movements were very confusing at first (just like Twitter). At OpenCon I realised that they are mostly different categories within the same effort.”

Reflection 3 “I was active before OpenCon through research and development work, now working in government I'm more constrained. I was involved in bug fixing and beta testing SocArxiv as a direct result of OpenCon in Washington. I made 100% of my publications open access during OpenCon thanks to networking and resources available there.”

Reflection 4 “I've making contacts with librarians and other open access advocates in Tsinghua and Beijing, trying to build up a network and then hopefully hosting events to promote open access at Tsinghua University and also other Chinese universities. Through meeting Brady Yano at the OpenCon 2016 DC conference, he connected me with Chardaye, who's also currently studying at Tsinghua University. It's great to have met up with her and share some of our ideas for how we can push forward open access here at Tsinghua University.

It's been encouraging to meet other open access advocates at the conference and community calls. I learn a lot from hearing their stories and initiatives, which also give me ideas for how I can help drive open access in my own community.”

Reflection 5 “I've continued leading on the education programme strand at Wikimedia UK, but with added focus and strength. Participated in OER conference in London in 2017, where I've used some of the arguments from OpenCon (especially the advocacy day). I've forged some contacts which have been leading to new programmes at Wikimedia UK, e.g. with St Andrews University. I encouraged one of the team members to attend a local OpenCon satellite event in the UK in 2017, which led to new programme connections for us (I've not been aware of this event prior to attending OpenCon myself).

Lots of new arguments to use in advocating for open research, especially that some of the topics covered at the conference were at a fringe of my experience and knowledge. I also circulated what I've learnt within my local team here to boost their understanding of the perception of Wikimedia within the open access research (not always 100% positive, which was educational!).”

Reflection 6 “I am working on a project that will promote a database of open education resources such as textbooks to students coming from first generation or lower income backgrounds. Raising awareness about the importance of open research through a workshop in a consulting club I am a part of.

Motivated me and have given me ideas. Hoping to reach out to some of the contacts that were created soon and help promote the database."  

Appendix D: OpenCon Satellite Events Including Wikimedia-Related Components[edit]

  • OpenCon 2018 Srinagar (India): Speakers included Youhan Thomas of Wikimedia India
  • OpenCon 2018 New Dehli (India): Participants in one track were trained on Wikidata
  • Open Data Day 2018 Lagos (Nigeria): Participants were provided an overview of Wikidata
  • OpenCon 2017 Kumasi (Ghana): One of the sessions focused on Wikipedia and how it relates that to open access
  • OpenCon 2017 Ife (Nigeria): The president of Wikimedia Nigeria, Olushola Olaniyan, spoke about Open Access
  • Open data day 2017 Lagos (Nigeria): A workshop was led by the Wikimedia UG Nigeria representative, Sam Oyeleye, who talked about using Wikimedia tools to advance open data.
  • OpenCon 2017 Parakou (Benin): Participants were taught how to contribute to Wikipedia
  • OpenCon 2017 Nashville (USA): Speakers included Kelly Doyle, Wikipedian in Residence for Gender Equity at West Virginia University and a Wikipedia edit-a-thon was included as part of the event
  • OpenCon 2016 Oxford (UK): Presentations included discussions of Crossref’s collaboration with the Wikimedia Foundation
  • OpenCon 2016 Chandigarh (India): Organized by a Wikimedian and focused on raising awareness of Open Access among Wikimedians in the area
  • OpenCon 2016 Ranchi (India): The program included a session on Wikipedia and included Mr. Gangadhar Bhadani, a Wikipedian from Ranchi. There were extensive discussions and deliberations on why scholars need to edit Wikipedia and what is notable and what is not and how to edit and contribute into Wikipedia was practically demonstrated to the attendees.