Grants:PEG/SPARC/OpenCon 2016

This Wikimedia Foundation grant has a fiscal sponsor. New Venture Fund administered the grant on behalf of SPARC.

SPARC/OpenCon 2016
To build expertise and advocacy capacity within the Wikimedia community to advance Open Access to research articles, Open Data, and Open Educational Resources—expanding access to the primary information sources upon which much of Wikipedia is built and allowing users access to read and evaluate these primary sources for themselves. This will be accomplished by facilitating significant involvement from the Wikimedia community in OpenCon 2016, a conference that empowers and supports the next generation is advancing openness in research and education.
targetThis proposal would create an impact across many different language Wikipedias and other Wikimedia projects
strategic priorityImprove quality
start dateSeptember 12, 2016
start year2016
end dateMarch 31, 2017
end year2017
budget (local currency)16,100 USD
budget (USD)16,100 USD
grant typeOrganization
non-profit statusYes
contact(s)• nick(_AT_)• joe(_AT_)
organization• SPARC
created on03:53, 1 July 2016 (UTC)


To build expertise and advocacy capacity within the Wikimedia community to advance Open Access to research articles, Open Data, and Open Educational Resources—expanding access to the primary information sources upon which much of Wikipedia is built and allowing users access to read and evaluate these primary sources for themselves. This will be accomplished by facilitating significant involvement from the Wikimedia community in OpenCon 2016, a conference that empowers and supports the next generation is advancing openness in research and education. Specifically, a robust Wikimedia presence at OpenCon 2016 will

  • Equip a core group of Wikimedians with government-focused advocacy skills that can be spread using a train-the-trainers model;
  • Enable Wikimedians to meet with leading policymakers in the US Congress and Obama Administration;
  • Connect Wikimedians with a rich network of potential collaborators in broader Open community;
  • Allow a workshop to be run during OpenCon 2016 on Open-related initiatives within Wikimedia projects and how participants can get involved.


OpenCon is an established, international conference that, along with 40 satellite events in 25 countries, has reached more 2,000 participants in its first two years. OpenCon seeks to bring together the most effective, energized students and early career academic professionals from around the world to advance openness in research and education—regardless of their ability to pay for travel costs. As such, OpenCon is a complex conference involving a required application process that is judged by past OpenCon participants (this is the only equitable way to distribute travel support which is given to most participants).

Our plan for engaging the Wikimedia conference through OpenCon, if supported with a PEG grant, is described below.


OpenCon 2016 will be held on November 12-14 in Washington, DC. OpenCon 2016’s three day program will begin with two days of keynotes, panels, and interactive workshops, drawing on both the knowledge of leading experts and the experience of participants who lead successful projects. Speakers at the first two OpenCon conferences have included Jimmy Wales (co-founder of Wikipedia), Mike Eisen and Pat Brown (co-founders of PLOS), Phil Bourne (Associate Director for Data Science of the U.S. National Institutes of Health), and more than 15 students and early career academic professionals leading successful initiatives.

The third day will provide a half-day of advocacy training followed by the opportunity for in-person meetings with relevant policymakers, ranging from the US Congress and federal agencies to embassies and key NGOs. Past advocacy trainings have included leading policymakers, such as Julia Reda (Member of the European Parliament) and Amy Rosenbaum (Director of Legislative Affairs to the President of the United States).

Locally organized satellite events will be held around the world in the weeks following OpenCon 2016 in Washington DC.


As a large conference, OpenCon has a significant planning process. We envision the following activities as being central to the success of achieving the goals of this PEG grant:

  1. Market the OpenCon application process to the wider Wikimedia community to find individuals who would be likely to have an impact after attending the conference. 98 individuals who applied to OpenCon 2015 indicated participation or interest in Wikimedia projects.
  2. Review Wiki-affiliated applications with past OpenCon attendees who are active in the Wikimedia community as well as relevant Wikimedia Foundation staff to identify 8 individuals to support. Coordinate with Wikimedia Legal team to identify individuals and regions where advocacy capacity is most needed.
  3. Work with Wiki-affiliated OpenCon 2016 participants to organize a workshop during the conference on Wiki projects that are related to Open Access, Open Education, and/or Open Data, and how participants can get involved. This webcast will be live webcast and made available to satellite event organizers.
  4. Use the year-round OpenCon community to facilitate continued engagement with Wiki-affiliated participants and require that they report back to the community regarding their efforts.
  5. Require Wikimedia-supported attendees to post-OpenCon follow up activities: 1) a post describing their experience at OpenCon and any follow up collaborations for their local Wikimedia community; and 2) to host at least one training after OpenCon either on general advocacy skills or on Open Access, Open Data, or Open Education.


Target readershipEdit

This proposal would create an impact across many different language Wikipedias and other Wikimedia projects

Fit with strategyEdit

Increasing quality:

Editors rely on access to primary sources to create, improve, and update Wikipedia pages. However, access to scientific and scholarly primary sources (academic journals) is largely restricted to those at wealthy institutions which can afford to pay subscription costs that can run thousands or even tens of thousands of dollars per subscription per year. While the Wikipedia Library helps enable access to some of these materials for more prolific editors, most editors can’t access the most up-to-date research and thus cannot incorporate it into Wikipedia.

Open Access is free, immediate online availability of scholarly and scientific research articles coupled with full reuse rights (under a Creative Commons Attribution-Only License). An Open Access system for communicating research will allow anyone with an internet connection to read the latest findings and incorporate those findings into Wikipedia. Not only does Open Access allow for Wikipedia to be more complete in cataloging the world’s knowledge, but it also increases the verifiability of content. Open Access enables Wikipedia readers to read the full text of any cited article and ensure it supports the claims made on a Wikipedia page. In an Open Access system, Wikipedia can not only distill this world’s scientific and scholarly content, but also effectively channel millions of users directly to the primary material itself—improving both Wikipedia and the research process itself.

OpenCon seeks to advance Open Access, Open Data, and Open Education by empowering the next generation to get involved in these issues and helping to incubate their ideas. Supporting a robust Wikimedia presence at the conference will help create a stronger link between these communities, helping to unlock this important source materials and to ensure Wikimedia projects take full advantage of opportunities an Open Access world presents.

Wikimedians’ attendance at OpenCon will also help improve the advocacy capacity within the Wikimedia community by in-depth training to those individuals supported. While this training will be given in the context of OpenCon’s three issue areas, the skills will be transferrable to other advocacy priorities within the Wikimedia community (e.g. Freedom of Panorama, Copyright reform) that will have a positive effect on the overall quality of Wikipedia.

Increasing reach & participation:

More than 2,000 people have participated in OpenCon events in the past two years, driven by their interest in expanding access to knowledge. More than 500 individuals have already RSVP’ed for the livestream of this year’s meeting. The Wikimedia workshop will be webcast to this audience and made available for us at satellite events—potentially reaching thousands of potential new reader and editors.

The participants at the main OpenCon conference represent a powerful group of potential collaborators for Wikimedia projects. Those selected from the thousands who apply to attend often go on to start new national-level campaigns and organizations, lead relevant advocacy efforts, and create new tools for facilitating openness in research and education. Many are leaders within larger organizations and their home communities who can help promote Wikimedia projects to a much larger network.

The communities that are driving Open Access, Open Data, and Open Education forward are natural allies for the Wikimedia community and a rich source of potential collaborators. Supporting a robust Wikimedia presence at OpenCon will help further cross-fertilization and collaboration between these communities in a way that will advance each.

We believe it’s important to have a critical mass of Wikimedians participate in OpenCon to create both the momentum and knowledge base necessary to achieve the measures of success lifted below. Having 8 Wikimedians will also ensure a wide range of experience and geographic regions to be represented among the group, which will be important to ensuring the impact outlined below.

Measures of successEdit

  • At least 8 participants from the Wikimedia community at OpenCon 2016, representing at least 5 countries from diverse regions
  • Successful completion of Wikimedia workshop at OpenCon 2016
  • Successful completion of advocacy training by Wikimedia attendees
  • Wikimedia-supported attendees will each write a blog post reporting on their involvement in OpenCon and any outcomes or projects moving forward
  • Wikimedia-supported attendees will be expected to deliver at least one training—either on advocacy skills in general or on Open Access, Open Data, or Open Education—after attending OpenCon
  • Wikimedia-supported attendees are expected to work with the WMF Legal Team following OpenCon to help support WMF advocacy priorities
  • Survey of participants following OpenCon 2016 will gauge the perceived utility of the conference and the impact participants believe the conference will have on their work moving forward
  • Feedback from the WMF Legal Team on the extent to which Wikimedia-supported OpenCon participants support Wikimedia advocacy priorities following the conference
  • The amount of collaboration that happens following OpenCon between Wikimedia-supported attendees and other participants

Resources and risksEdit


OpenCon 2016 is organized by SPARC (the Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition), a global coalition committed to making Open the default for research and education. Founded in 1998, SPARC and its affiliates have more than 600 member libraries from around the world. SPARC operates as a project of the New Venture Fund, a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization based in the United States.

OpenCon 2016 will be the third meeting since OpenCon was founded in 2014. With two successful main conferences with 40 local satellite events, OpenCon is now well established, and the organizing team has a significant depth of experience in ensuring OpenCon’s goals are met. The previous OpenCon conferences have also demonstrated the viability of financial support from the community, with each raising more than $150,000 in sponsorship.

Lead Organizers:

  • Nick Shockey (Director of Programs & Engagement, SPARC)
  • Joe McArthur (Assistant Director, Right to Research Coalition)
  • Nicole Allen (Director of Open Education, SPARC)

2016 Organizing Committee:

  • Chair: Nick Shockey, USA: SPARC; Right to Research Coalition
  • Nicole Allen, USA: SPARC
  • Megan Beckett, South Africa: Siyavula Education
  • Joseph Mcarthur, UK: Right to Research Coalition; Open Access Button
  • Erin McKiernan, Mexico: Department of Physics, National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM)
  • Slobodan Radicev, Italy, Serbia: University of Novi Sad; EuroScience
  • Atila Iamarino, Brazil: Nerdologia and Não-Ficção
  • Emma Molls, USA: Iowa State University
  • Samuel Moore, UK: PhD candidate, Department of Digital Humanities, King’s College London; & Managing Editor, Ubiquity Press, London
  • Lorraine Chuen, Canada: The OOO Canada Research Network / Studio [Y] - MaRS Discovery District
  • Stijntje Dijk, The Netherlands: The International Federation of Medical Students’ Associations (IFMSA)
  • Chealsye Bowley, USA: Texas Woman’s University
  • Osman Aldirdiri, Sudan: Right to Research Coalition (R2RC)


While we don’t anticipate any significant risks to this proposal, one of the largest would be not enough Wikimedians applying to choose a strong cohort of Wikimedians. However, our past track record indicates this shouldn’t be a problem, with 98 individuals applicants to OpenCon 2015 indicating participation or interest in Wikimedia projects. We will heavily promote the OpenCon application process to the Wikimedia community over the closing weeks and follow up with all Wiki-affiliated applicants to encourage them to apply again. Finally, as a last resort, we could keep a special application process open for Wikimedians if there aren’t enough suitable applicants found in the general process.

Another risk is that those who attend utilizing this grant don’t follow through to make an impact in their local communities. We will mitigate this risk by selecting the most effective, engaged individuals from what should be a large applicant pool and making the expectations clear from the beginning. We will also to continue following up with the Wiki-affiliated participants following the conference and will ask them to update one another on progress they’ve made since the meeting. Finally, OpenCon has a strong track record of catalyzing action among participants following the meeting, from launching national-level advocacy campaigns to launching infrastructure projects.


Project budget tableEdit

Number Item Description Unit Quantity Cost per Unit (USD) Total Cost (USD) Notes
1. International travel costs Per participant 8 $8,800 $1,100 average cost per flight per participant
2. Registration Per participant 8 $300 $2,400 Includes cost of food, DC metro card, receptions
3. Accommodations (shared) Per participant 8 $318 ($79.50/night) $2,544 2 participants per room @ OpenCon hotel (Residence Inn Bethesda)
4. Visa fee Per participant ?? $160 $640 Visa fee for individuals who require them
5. Travel agency booking fee Per participant 8 $40 $320
6. Overhead fee 1 $1,396 9.5% overhead fee, includes administration and costs of bank transfer
Total $16,100

Total cost of projectEdit

The total cost of OpenCon will ultimately depend on how much sponsorship revenue the event is able to generate to support participant travel. We expect total expenditures to be approximately $200,000 USD.

Total amount requestedEdit

$16,100.00. As outlined above, this amount will be used to support the cost of attendance for approximately 8 participants from the Wikimedia community.

Additional sources of revenueEdit

OpenCon 2016 is expected to raise a significant amount of sponsorship revenue from a wide variety of supporters. We expect these supporting organizations will be similar to years past. In 2015, OpenCon sponsors included the Max Planck Society, the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, PLOS, BioMed Central, SpringerOpen, Overleaf, Figshare, the Association of Research Libraries, and nearly two dozen academic institutions.

Non-financial requirementsEdit

None required.


Community notificationEdit

You are responsible for notifying relevant communities of your proposal, so that they can help you! Depending on your project, notification may be most appropriate on a village pump, talkpage, mailing list. Please paste a link below to where the relevant communities have been notified of this proposal, and to any other relevant community discussions. Need notification tips?


Do you think this project should be selected for a Project and Event Grant? Please add your name and rationale for endorsing this project in the list below. Other feedback, questions or concerns from community members are also highly valued, but please post them on the talk page of this proposal.

  • I strongly support this to ensure greater inclusion of Wikimedia and its sister projects at Open Conn which is very crucial for advancing the goals of Wikipedia and other open movements. Rberchie (talk) 07:38, 7 July 2016 (UTC)
  • This initiative run in perfect harmony with the development of the Open Wikiversity Journal in English version and soon in French version. Wikiversity journals need to be more visible for potential authors and readers. Let's support this grant and create links between Wikimedia and OpenCon. That a win win opportunity. Lionel Scheepmans Contact French native speaker, désolé pour ma dysorthographie 09:36, 7 July 2016 (UTC)
  • I strongly support this project. Last time I attended the satellite event of OpenCon in Kolkata, which was very fruitful to me. I even shared the importance of Wikipedia as an Education Program. Sailesh Patnaik (Talk|Contribs) 09:47, 7 July 2016 (UTC)
  • strongly support, Open conn will support the wikimedia projects goals Mohamed Ouda (talk)
  • Strong support. Thise outcome of this would be very beneficial for both WMF and OpenCon. —M@sssly 11:46, 7 July 2016 (UTC)
  • Strongly support because it's important for Wikimedian to be where the open movement is. Papischou (talk)
  • Support I cannot comment on the grant amount because there are no published guidelines describing how the WMF judges the right amount. However, I can say that this is an important conference for the Wikimedia community. SPARC has a history since 2012 or before of sending its participants to Wikimedia events internationally. There is overlap of interest between the two communities. It is in the Wikimedia community's interest to get more international representation at major SPARC events and WMF-funded scholarships could do that. Blue Rasberry (talk) 13:28, 7 July 2016 (UTC)
  • These project will create more opportunity and understanding in bringing open access and wikimedia on the same board toward achieving access to knowledge to be free and open. 17:12, 7 July 2016 (UTC)
  • Support Wikipedia editors have benefited enormously from open access (OA) to research publications. It's only natural that the WMF would support OA in return. Sponsoring the participation of Wikipedians in the leading OA advocacy conference is a great opportunity to influence OA inside-out so that the needs of WMF projects are heard. Fgnievinski (talk) 18:25, 7 July 2016 (UTC)
  • Strong Support - helping align the work of the Wikimedia Community (especially from emerging communities), with the efforts of other advocates around the world in the Open Knowledge space is quite important: I think the criteria of trying to bring Global participants to the event also adds a lot of value to our other programmatic activities (the Wikipedia Education Program, GLAM-Wiki, The Wikipedia Library, and our broader advocacy activities). Astinson (WMF) (talk) 21:46, 7 July 2016 (UTC)
  • Strong Support - I have participated in last year's edition in Brussels and the event was hands-on and useful. It helped me fill some knowledge and networking gaps and I managed to coordinate our general public policy strategy with like-minded organisations. Dimi z (talk) 08:17, 8 July 2016 (UTC)
  •   Support - The mission overlap and potential for mutual benefit speak for themselves, and the costs seem correct even if I find the estimate for flights a bit high. I have been to OpenCon last year in Brussels and it was productive and useful. However I have some concerns about which I'm going to write in the comments page. Solstag (talk) 16:06, 8 July 2016 (UTC)
  •   Support - I attended OpenCon in 2015 and found it really useful and interesting - I think sponsorship for attendees is necessary to make sure it has diverse participation. Open access is vital for Wikimedia's work, so supporting OpenCon makes a lot of sense. - Lawsonstu (talk) 16:05, 10 July 2016 (UTC)
  •   Support - There are a number of different communities that have intersecting aims, but it can be difficult to align activities and allow for effective collaboration. Efforts like this one would serve well to bring together community organizers - more of this is needed. Educational, cultural institutions, libraries, and open access knowledge creation communities like Wikipedia, need to be less siloed in order to promote the urgent need for open access. -Mozucat (talk) 20:56, 11 July 2016 (UTC)
  • OpenCon is an extremely well and professionally organised conference. I agree with @Solstag about the inherent risks in relying on funding individuals for advocating change, but believe that the professional team organising OpenCon is well equipped to mitigate this risk to its absolute minimum while simultaneously working towards achieving the stated objectives.
  • As an attendee of OpenCon 2015 in Brussels I fully support this grant request as an effective investment. Momomtaz (talk) 10:17, 12 July 2016 (UTC)
  •   Support & would like to attend. a good example of conference events would be AAAS editathon [1], [2] Slowking4 (talk) 00:07, 21 July 2016 (UTC)
For grantees

If you are the grantee or representative that wrote this grant submission, you may request changes by using these links: