Video links now posted on the Workshop website


All of the videos for today’s demos/presentation will soon be posted and available on the workshop website (on the agenda page) at  Feel free to share these links!


Updated version of the FORCE11 whitepaper

Dear all,

Just to hammer home the fact that this is very much a work in progress, enclosed pse find a next iteration of the manifesto, with updated references.

I’ll see if I can update the hard copy pile next to the registration desk as well :-)!


- to the html version of this document is

- to other versions of the manifesto:

- links to related efforts (please add your own!):

Thanks for your interest,

- Anita. 

Anita de Waard

Disruptive Technologies Director, Elsevier Labs

Rough Transcript of my Opening Remarks

Dear Colleagues:

 It is an honor to be asked to address this group, some of whom I seem to see more than my own family, to set the stage for this 2011 Microsoft Research sponsored eScience workshop on Transforming Scholarly Communication.

 The first fundamental question to ask is, do we need a transformation in the first place? Obviously we all believe we do otherwise we would not be here, but what about the majority of scholars? I use my colleagues up and down the corridor as a benchmark to answer that question. A group currently oblivious to much of what we will show tomorrow. But nevertheless a group increasingly not oblivious to the changes going on around them – data sharing policies, cuts in library budgets, open access, and our students. Let me illustrate this latter point with a recent example of something remarkable that happened to me.

 A couple of months ago I received by email a paper to PLoS Comp Biol. This happens from time to time as authors try and circumvent the standard submission procedure and contact me as Editor in Chief directly. It was a paper in pandemic modeling, which appeared to question conventional approaches to such modeling. Not being an expert here I sent the manuscript to Simon Levin in Princeton who is on our Editorial Board for his opinion. Simon is a Kyoto Prize winner and an expert in large-scale biological modeling. He indicated there was something special about this well written paper. Since the sole author was living in San Diego I agreed to meet with her and discuss the work. Simply by asking she had received a large amount of free computer time from the San Diego Supercomputer Center (SDSC), got free access to Mathamatica and had clearly benefited from the open access literature as well as resources like Wikipedia. I encouraged her to submit the work to Science, which she has done, and it is currently under review.


The sole author’s name is Meredith.  What makes this story remarkable, is that she is 15 years old and a senior at La Jolla High School in San Diego. She subsequently presented her work at my lab meeting, which I must say was much better attended than usual. Sitting there with my eyes closed I thought I was in the presence of a professor deep into their area of expertise. It was only when I opened my eyes and saw the braces did reality sink in.

Clearly this is an extreme case, but lets not be modest, what we are trying to do here is enable anyone with an Internet connection and a will to learn, achieve what Meredith has achieved. I cannot think of a more noble cause. While we have seen this possibility for a long time, what is new is that others are now seeing it too.

We all have our own Meredith stories or at the very least some driver that moves us in the same way. For some it is the glacial pace at which knowledge exchange takes place; for others it is the sense of unease about the lack of reproducibility in our own science; for others it is the inaccessibility of knowledge; and for others still it is the totally qualitative way quantitative scientists measure the value of scholarship.

With Meredith as our motivation, let us take a minute to analyze the path we are on towards transforming scholarship through what has happened this past year and then what might happen as a result of this workshop.

2011 may well be remembered as the year that stakeholders – scientists, publishers, archivists and librarians, developers, funders, and decision makers went from working in isolation to beginning to work together. What started with Beyond the PDF in January had become a “movement” by the time the summer meetings were over. The Dagstuhl meeting captured the spirit in a manifesto that should become a living document for us all to consider. Movements have transformed entrenched systems before and it remains an open and very exciting question as to whether that will happen here. For a small group to cause change to many requires that the many believe that change is needed and gradually get on board. I believe that time has come.

The driver of change is the ground swell towards open science. When I first heard that a group of prominent life scientists got together and agreed to start a new open access journal I was disappointed – such vision coming up with something that we had already. But if the effort by HHMI, Wellcome Trust and Max Plank does indeed compete with Science and Nature it will precipitate change. My sense is that Publishers see the writing on the wall, or more appropriately the screen and the smart ones are gearing up to a future with different business models. The winning publishers will move from serving science through scientific process and dissemination to doing that plus enabling knowledge discovery, more equitable reward systems and improving comprehension by a broader audience. Interestingly, it is not clear to me, based on my interactions with OAPSA, that open access publishers see it that way. Many simply see delivering papers as before, but with a different revenue model. Ironically even if they see the promise of change, they do not have the resources to make it happen. We must help them and that is why meetings like this one are so important. A serious example of what we must fix is the lack of consistent representation of their papers in XML. PubMed Central will come back to haunt us when developers begin to seriously try and use the content. This is history repeating itself – look at the biological databases. We should learn from history.

Open science is more that changing how we interface with the final product it is interfacing with the complete scientific process – motivation, ideas, hypotheses, experiments to test the hypotheses, data generated, analysis of that data, conclusions and  awareness. This is a tall order and I believe we need to proceed in steps. Clearly access and effective use of data is a valuable next step. Funders are demanding it, scientists (to some degree) are providing it and repositories exist to accept it. But right now it is a mess, but we have an opportunity. Ontologies exist, some tools exist and so we have the opportunity NOT to repeat the horrible loss of productivity we see in the publishing world of rehashing the same material for different publishers. Let us define and implement data standards and input mechanisms that capture the generic metadata, provide the hooks for more domain specific deeper content and allow a more universal deposition and search. We need to do this now before systems become entrenched. Otherwise Google, Bing and the like will be our tools for data discovery – we need deep and meaningful search of data.

Let me conclude with a couple of thoughts on what I believe should come from the workshop. 

1.     We will hear about some wonderful tools and innovative software developments to support scholarly communication – we must define a way to aggregate these efforts to facilitate uptake by others around a focused and shared development effort.

2.     We need to define ways to recruit to the movement – it will take more than tools to do so – are there clear wins for all concerned? If so what are they? Platforms to disseminate scholarship, new reward systems, knowledge discovery from open access content, proven improved comprehension.

What can we do so that more 15 year olds are active contributors to scholarship? This is our challenge. Thank you very much.







Pre-reading for Harvard/MSR eScience Workshop


A bit of recommended reading to suggest prior to the workshop – something hot off the press! 

One of our workshop attendees, Anita de Waard (the Disruptive Technologies Director at Elsevier Labs) is sharing with us a DRAFT version of a document that was prepared by attendees at workshop held in Dagstuhl, German this past August.  The group was convened to address the same challenge we are tackling in this workshop – how to speed change in scholarly communication.  The group calls itself the Future of Research Communication (the FoRC Network – or Force11), and we are lucky to have ~6 of these people joining us for our meeting.  We hope very much that our workshop in Cambridge can carry forward the momentum from Dagsthul – as well as from the “Beyond the PDF” workshop held in San Diego this past January.

The Dagstuhl Manifesto document can be found here, and is in various formats (PDF, HTML, and LaTex).

We’d like to stress to everyone that (a) this document is still very much in DRAFT form and (b) has not been validated by the Force11 participants.  We ask that you not disseminate it further at this point, but simply consume it for the purposes of informing yourselves in advance of this workshop.  Note that it will be moved to a permanent web-home shortly, so this is just a preliminary “sneak peek” of this white paper.  Once it is more formally released, you will be able to point to it, blog about it, etc – but we ask you to hold off for now.  Our thanks to Anita and the other authors for sharing it at this stage.

Hope you are able to review this short paper before the workshop commences!


Dear Transformers… Part 1

Hi Everyone, we realized some of you might like the logistical/philosophical information that was in my email to you all on 10/11/11 to be available on this site, so here it is.
Best, Alyssa

11 October 2011

Dear Transformers,

My goal is to keep this email as short as possible, so that you’ll read to the end.   For more details (e.g. directions, etc.), please follow the links within the message, and see the attached note on logistics & communication from Jennifer Carlson at the bottom of this message.
0. The goals of the Transforming Scholarly Communicationworkshop are to: a.) learn about and discuss the up-and-running technologies that we are/could/should be using to improve scholarship and communication thereof; and b.) develop six short statements describing how these technologies might best be “marketed” for wider deployment amongst the scholarly community.  The six statements will be synthesized into one short-as-possible document, to be distributed very widely, that will serve as a manual for how to “modernize” one’s research. 

1. The workshop begins Sunday afternoon, 10/23, with a mostly, but not purely, social reception from 5-7 PM at Harvard’s Sackler Museum   The food, drink & company will be excellent.  You should come, and if you want to eat a lot, you should plan to go out for dinner afterwards.  Bus service to/from the Hyatt will be available, and a note from Jen Carlson, attached below, explains that.

2. The workshop continues from Monday morning 10/24 at 8:30 AM until it ends on Tuesday at 3 PM.  All of the sessions except for the dinner will be held at “NERD" (Microsoft Research’s "New England Research and Development Center") near MIT.  The dinner Monday night, which again is not purely social, so you should come, is at the Hyatt Cambridge, where those of you from out-of-town are likely staying. (FYI—it is a pleasant 25-minute walk along the Charles River from the NERD to the Hyatt.)

3. The organization of this workshop is purposely focused on discussion and writing, rather than on “talks.”  There will be no talks—only a series of demos and then discussion/writing sessions.  Everyone attending the meeting is requested to be present for all of the demos, which will take place (all of) Monday morning.  On Monday afternoon, attendees will break into six groups of approximately 10 people each.  You will receive an email later this week with information on which group you have been pre-assigned to, and if you’d like to change that assignment, please let us know.  The discussion groups will make use of the (moderated-but-open) tumblr site at, on which you may post in advance of the meeting if you are so-inspired.

4. The full, updated, agenda for the workshop is online at:
I am very optimistic that the unique collection of people and points-of-view we have assembled for this workshop will be able to produce the practical guide we seek, and that it will have significant impact.  I thank you in advance for being part of this effort!
Looking forward to seeing you all soon,


on behalf of the organizing committee, including Lee Dirks, Alex Wade, Mary Lee Kennedy, Alberto Pepe & Gosia Stergios

P.S. Some of you have been understandably confused by emails coming from the UKOLN group concerning the “Developing a Community Capability Model for Data-Intensive Research” event also taking place in Cambridge (at the NERD) on 10/23.  While this event is likely of interest to many of the “Transforming” invitees (hence its scheduling), it is an open-to-the-community “consultation workshop”, which is separate from our event.  Feel free to attend both events if you like (encouraged!), but be aware that the “Transforming” event does not begin until 5 PM on Sunday 10/23.

If you have any questions or concerns regarding hotel, venue or transportation, please feel free to email Jenifer Carlson @  Jenifer is our workshop planner and is happy to respond to your questions. We will not be providing ground transportation to/from the airport and the event hotel. However, Boston Logan International Airport does have a taxi queue just outside baggage claim that will help you. Average cost is about $45 between the airport and hotel.  Also, if you like subways, the Sackler Museum is not a long walk from the Harvard Square T-station, and the NERD is very near the Kendall Square T-station (both on the Red Line).  Unfortunately, the Hyatt is not very near any T-station. We will be providing bus transportation between the event hotel and the event venues. That schedule is listed below: Sunday, October 23rd4:45pm – pickup at Hyatt Regency Cambridge for transport to Sackler Museum on Harvard campus7:00pm – pickup at Sackler Museum for transport to Hyatt Regency Cambridge (will loop as-needed after 7:00pm) Monday, October 24th8:15am – pickup at Hyatt Regency Cambridge for transport to Microsoft NERD @ 1 Memorial Drive5:00pm – pickup at Microsoft NERD for transport to Hyatt Regency Cambridge Tuesday, October 25th8:15am – pickup at Hyatt Regency Cambridge for transport to Microsoft NERD3:00pm – pickup at Microsoft NERD for transport to Hyatt Regency Cambridge