What is OpenCon?

OpenCon is a platform for creating, empowering, and connecting the next generation of leaders to advance Open Access, Open Education and Open Data–across disciplines, and in every corner of the globe. OpenCon’s initiatives include an annual flagship global conference, satellite events organized by volunteer hosts around the world, and an ongoing online community. Each year, OpenCon’s global conference convenes promising students and early career academic professionals from around the world interested in opening research and education. OpenCon is a project of SPARC (the Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition) and its student program, the Right to Research Coalition.

Why did we create this report?

Although OpenCon participants come from diverse geographical locations, over the years we have learned that inclusion means more than simply having diverse representation in the room. Both as a conference and global community, we continue to work on making OpenCon a more inclusive space. We are constantly learning. This report was created to:

  • 1. Keep OpenCon transparent and accountable to our commitments to diversity, equity, and inclusion
  • 2. Share our learnings as conference organizers and encourage others to organize events that center on diversity, equity, and inclusion
  • 3. Encourage iteration and feedback from the broader community

Although we encourage this report to be used as a resource for other organizers, we understand that many of the practices and accessibility requirements we mention: (1) are not exhaustive, (2) may not be possible depending on the infrastructure or finnancial resources available to organizers, and (3) may not be appropriate in all geographical and cultural contexts (the authors of the report are Northern American and European). In this way, the report is not meant to be a set of rules. Rather, we hope it will help organizers to be more thoughtful about integrating these values at every step of the conference planning process within their resources and means.

Report Sections

Here are some practices that we encourage conference organizers to consider when putting together an event. They are a combination of practices we've learned to take over time, recommended practices from external sources, and areas for improvement based off feedback from our community.

Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion: What and Why?

What do these terms mean, and why are they relevant to Open research and education? Why should all conference organizers be thinking about this?

Diversity of Organizers, Speakers, and Participants

Who is planning the meeting? Who is coming to the meeting? Are you minimizing barriers to attend? Whose voices get heard; which perspectives are most visible?

Building Diversity, Equity, Inclusion into the Agenda

Are you making space for conversations about these topics to occur? Is there programming that explicitly addresses diversity in your community or discipline?

Letting Participants Shape your Event Agenda

Do participants get a say in what the conference looks like? Are the needs, interests, and work of attendees included in the agenda?

Ensuring your Venue is Accessible & Inclusive

Does the building have accessible exterior and interior features? Are there gender neutral bathrooms? Do you have appropriate rooms for addressing diverse needs?

Creating Accesible Conference Media

Are people able to see and hear presentations? Are there alternative ways to access conference materials, online and offline?

Ensuring Engagement is Accessible and Inclusive

Which participants are given the opportunity to ask questions? Can the participants engage in the conference remotely or online?

Enforcing a Code of Conduct

Do you have a comprehensive anti-harassment policy? Are you clearly communicating the code of conduct before and during the meeting?

Don't Forget To Think About These Things Too!

Some other things to consider including: gender inclusive pronoun badges, allergies and dietary restrictions, choosing a conference date, and more!

Checklist Overview for Planning Inclusive Events

Drawing both from our own practices and public resources, we have created checklist of actions conference organizers can take when planning events, workshops, and conferences.

Report Sources

Many of these practices are recommended by external sources. Research for this report were based from these resources.

OpenCon Self Assessment

Information on OpenCon's conference demographics from 2014 to 2016. Reflections on areas of improvement over our three-year history and areas that still need work.

Contribute to our Github Repository

We welcome contributions to this report! Visit our Github repository to submit edits, or start a new issue if you have a piece of feedback or topic of discussion you would like to raise. If you'd like to provide feedback directly to us, we also welcome that. See our contact information below.

Contact Us

While we've compiled our learnings from the last three years into this guide, we understand that there is always room for improvement. We hope to receive community feedback on the report, and welcome the community and members of the public to provide feedback on our list of suggested practices. You can provide any feedback directly to us via e-mail or social media. We will be regularly iterating and updating the webpage to reflect these comments and contributions.

Get in touch!