This post was written by Dr Martin Poulter, Wikipedia Science Conference lead and Wikimedia UK volunteer
One striking theme in last year’s Wikimania conference in London was the enthusiasm for Wikipedia and Wikidata from scientists, publishers, and funders. Wikimedia projects are now seen not just as platforms to feed public curiosity about science, but as new ways to share data, measure impact, contextualise new research, and even to write papers.
That energy and enthusiasm inspired Wikimedia UK and the Wellcome Trust to create a new conference, exploring Open Access, wiki communities, and the scientific process. The Wikipedia Science Conference will take place in the Wellcome Collection Conference Centre on Euston Road in London on Wednesday 2nd and Thursday 3rd of September.
The keynote speakers are Dame Wendy Hall of the University of Southampton and Peter Murray-Rust of the University of Cambridge. Respectively from computer science and from chemistry, they are both committed enthusiasts for scientific data being available freely and openly on the web.
International speakers will include the Research and Data Lead of the Wikimedia Foundation, Dario Taraborelli; Daniel Mietchen talking about integrating Wikipedia and Wikidata with scholarly publication; and Stefan Kasberger, a Austrian social scientist who uses Wikipedia as a data source.
A theme through the whole programme is how, in a world of open access and open knowledge, we can all take practical steps to promote the widest benefits of science. This can involve building links from Wikipedia to the best peer-reviewed research or using open-access material to build reference and education materials.
The conference is more than just its programme. A big block of the second day is deliberately unallocated, with the whole conference centre available. This “unconference” is a chance for impromptu talks, discussions, and skills-sharing. Participants can bring a laptop and take their first steps in wiki editing or creating new tools that extract and use free data.
All registered attendees are invited to a wine reception on the evening of Wednesday 2nd, in Wellcome’s unique and inspiring Reading Room. This is thanks to the generosity of the Royal Society of Chemistry, whose Wikipedian In Residence is also giving a session.
For those who want more chances to delve into code, a hackathon on Saturday 5th September will create and improve tools for the benefit of scientists and Wikipedians. This is hosted by Wikimedia UK and financially supported by CrossRef.