Where Do We Need to Go From Here?



Open Access and Open Data in Language Research and Documentation: Opportunities and Challenges

SOAS World Languages Institute collaborated with University and City Library of Cologne and the Cologne Center for e-Humanities to hold the international workshop: Open Access and Open Data in Language Research and Documentation: Opportunities and Challenges in Cologne, Germany from October 10-12, 2016.

Open Access (unrestricted online access to publicly funded peer-reviewed publications), has become a major movement in the academic world in the past decade. While Open Access to publications is generally supported, the call for access to the primary materials- the data on which the publications are based- is contested and sometimes hotly debated, especially in the documentation of endangered languages. In the endangered language context, issues such as privacy and ownership are of great concern. At the same time, best practice in scientific conduct and sharing of data are basic academic principles. Open Access promotes a higher caliber of data quality, by allowing data to be verified. Additionally, it helps ensure that funders are not repeatedly funding the same projects.

Thirty-five professionals from different geographical areas attended this 2.5 day conference, including lawyers, researchers, archivists, junior and senior fieldworkers, community members, and representatives from WIPO in Geneva, UNESCO, and the Cologne Centre for eHumanities. These participants discussed the key issues in evaluating challenges and opportunities and to provide practical solutions to Open Access/Open Data of primary documentation materials, particularly the question of how to protect moral rights while supporting good academic research.

This conference was funded by the Volkswagen Stiftung. UNESCO’s Universal Access and Preservation Section, Information Society Division, Communication and Information Sector partnered to support policy development in the sector and to provide practical teaching materials.

The participants are now working together to publish the results from the workshop.

By Martha Tsutsui Billins

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