Grants:TPS/Daniel Mietchen/58th Annual Meeting of the Biophysical Society

User name
Daniel Mietchen
User location (country)
Event name
58th Annual Meeting of the Biophysical Society
Event Web site
Event date(s)
February 15-19, 2014
Event location (city)
San Francisco
Amount requested (remember to specify currency!)
EUR 900

Budget breakdown

  • Travel:
    • Flight FRA-SFO-FRA (Lufthansa, Economy), ca. EUR 800 as of December 11.
    • Train Jena-FRA-Jena (2nd class), ca. EUR 100.
  • Conference fees: waived by the organizers
  • Accommodation: will try couchsurfing

Proposed Participation


The society have been running Wikimedia-related workshops on a regular basis for a number of years (2010 example), with the focus being on outreach via Wikipedia, particularly via the Society's Biophysics wiki-edit contest. This year, the focus of that session will still be on the contest but place special importance on open licensing and the impact it can have by enabling reuse - an area at the core of my activities as a Wikimedian in recent years (cf. PLOS blog post), which is why I was asked to lead that session.

A biophysicist by training, I am active in a number of science-related WikiProjects, including WikiProject Open Access, WikiProject Biophysics (cf. WikiProject Report in the Signpost), WikiProject Medicine and WikiProject Computational Biology, all on the English Wikipedia. I also run a bot that uploads audio and video files from scholarly publications onto Wikimedia Commons (cf. WMF blog post), and I am an editor at PLOS Computational Biology for its track of manuscripts destined for the English Wikipedia. From summer 2011 till summer 2013, I served as Wikimedian in Residence on Open Science with the Open Knowledge Foundation Germany.

My current research on semantic integration of the biodiversity literature at the Museum für Naturkunde in Berlin is not within the scope of the conference.

Goal and Expected Impact


One outcome simply resulted from discussions around licensing as part of the planning of the session: "they agreed unanimously to make meeting photographs taken by the society's photographers open license, as feasible, and will try to persuade entrants in their yearly image contest to do likewise".

My goals here are deeper: starting a debate. I have co-authored an article in the Biophysical Journal, which is published by the Biophysical Society and not openly licensed, and I have helped several societal and institutional journals to develop on an open-access basis. Putting these two perspectives together, I will ask - and outline - what open licenses have to offer in terms of advancing biophysical research and education as well as public engagement around biophysical topics. In the outline, reuse scenarios on Wikimedia platforms - Wikipedia, Commons, Wikisource and Wikidata - feature prominently. Several earlier talks of this kind have been successful in stimulating discussions around open licensing (e.g. this one recorded at CERN, who have since started to test open licenses).

The conference is the largest one in the field and international in scope, so discussions taking place in the halls there are likely to be echoed in some way in biophysics labs around the world. I am aware that a single session can not easily get to that point, so I am complementing it with an approach to the poster sessions that I have engaged in for a while now - asking the presenters what three Wikipedia articles I should have read in order to have a good chance of understanding their poster. Looking those articles up live in front of the poster is a good basis for the presenter explaining me their work and me explaining them about Wikipedia, open licenses, open collaboration, public version histories and related topics.

By making a good number of people aware how their research interacts (or could but doesn't) with content on Wikimedia projects (and WikiProject Biophysics in particular), I hope to instigate motivation in some of them to get involved, either by publishing more of their works under open licenses or by (re)starting to contribute directly to Wikimedia platforms (way beyond the rather short wiki session) in the language(s) they are most comfortable with, which for a good number of attendees is not English.

Finally, I expect to share experiences on their wiki editing contest (judges, past winners and potential future participants will be present) and the similar ISCB competition, in which I am serving on the judging panel.