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Open Research for Inclusion: 

Spotlighting Different Voices in Open Research at Cambridge 

For the past few years Cambridge University Libraries have hosted an annual conference that focuses on Open Research at Cambridge. In 2023 the theme was Open Research for Inclusion: Spotlighting Different Voices in Open Research at Cambridge, at a hybrid, day-long conference that took place at Downing College on Friday 17 November 2023.

This Cambridge Open Research Conference drew attention to different areas of Open Research that have been at the forefront of recent discussions in Cambridge by showcasing the scope and breadth of open practices in typically under-represented disciplines and contexts. These include, but are not limited to, Arts, Humanities, and Social Sciences, the GLAM sector (Galleries, Libraries, Archives, and Museums), and research from and about the Global South.   

The role of Open Research is to promote equity and inclusion by ensuring that research is accessible to all, regardless of research background, location, or affiliation. The conference illustrated the value of Open Research in areas traditionally left out of the conversation, and acknowledged that Open Research can look different in different areas, with the common goal of advancing knowledge and understanding. Giving a voice to Open Research from diverse perspectives can propel learning, collaboration, and allow us to learn from one another’s approaches to openness.

This event warmly welcomed researchers, students, librarians and administrators across the University of Cambridge at every career stage.



09:00 - 09:30: Registration


09:30-09:40: Welcome and introductions

Professor Anne Ferguson-Smith CBE FRS FMedSci - Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Research and International Partnerships and the Arthur Balfour Professor of Genetics  


09:40-10:30: Keynote

Dr Siddharth Soni - Isaac Newton Trust Fellow at Cambridge Digital Humanities (CDH), and an affiliated lecturer at the Faculty of English 

Common Ground, Common Duty: Open Humanities and the Global South 

10:30-11:00: Speakers   

Dr Stefania Merlo - MAEASaM Remote Sensing Data Co-ordinator & Project Manager. Senior Research Associate, McDonald Institute for Archaeological Research, and 

Dr Rebecca Roberts - MAHSA Project Co-ordinator. Research Associate, McDonald Institute for Archaeological Research and Fitzwilliam Museum

Open Data for Open Research - Reflections on the Curation of Digital Archives for Heritage Management in the Global South

11:00-11:30:  Break


11:30-12:30:  Open Research Panel, based on registrants' questions 


Professor Alexander Bird - Bertrand Russell Professor of Philosophy, Faculty of Philosophy  


Professor Anna Alexandrova - Professor in Philosophy of Science, Department of History and Philosophy of Science  

Luisa Fassi - PhD student, Medical Research Council Cognition and Brain Sciences Unit, Department of Psychiatry  

Dr Sacha Jones - Interim Head of Open Research Services, Cambridge University Libraries  

Dr Kiera McNeice - Research Data Manager, Cambridge University Press & Assessment 

Liz Simmonds - Head of Research Culture


12:30-14:00: Lunch break 


14:00 - 15:15: GLAM (Galleries, Libraries, Archives & Museums) sector panel


Dr Samuel A Moore - Scholarly Communication Specialist, Cambridge University Libraries


Dr Mary Chester-Kadwell - Senior Software Developer, Cambridge University Library and Lead Research Software Engineer, Cambridge Digital Humanities

Engaging with Open Research Practices for Code and Data in Digital Humanities and Collections-Based Research

Dr Ayesha Fuentes - Isaac Newton Trust Research Associate in Conservation, Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology

I’m not Free until we’re all Free: On Learning and Teaching Collections Care and Museum Practice in Buddhist Spaces

Dr Agustina Martinez-Garcia - Head of Open Research Systems, Cambridge University Library 

Open Research Infrastructure - Supporting Open Research Practices at Cambridge 

Dr Amelie Roper - Head of Research, Cambridge University Library


15:15-15:45: Break 


15:45 - 16:15: Octopus Workshop

Tim Fellows - Product Manager, Octopus Alternative Publishing Model to Foster Open Research

16:15-16:45: Speaker 

Professor Joanna Page - Director of CRASSH and Professor of Latin American Studies

Open Research and the Coloniality of Knowledge

16:45-17:00: Close 


17:00-18:00: Wine reception 



Dr Siddarth Soni - Common Ground, Common Duty: Open Humanities and the Global South

The universities and scholarly constituencies of the global South remain perpetually outside discussions about Open Access in its institutionalised form, while at the same time radically reimagining and practicing what ‘openness’ looks like in intellectual life. In metropolitan universities, such as in Europe and America, calls to make research more open coalesce around different OA models, aims, outcomes, processes, legalities, problems of transition, of infrastructure, of labour, and so on. From a certain view, these challenges are difficult to overcome, and need concerted effort. But to overcome them in the ways proposed demand a negation of the forms of openness already practiced by institutions in the global South. In this lecture, I develop the entwined concepts of common ground and common duty, building on the work of Fred Moten, Denise Ferreira da Silva, among others, to think against neoliberal conceptions of the ‘open’. With the view of the international copyright system as a legacy and doctrine of colonialism, I ask what openness might look like if the global South was imagined, not as it is currently done, which is as an embattled community ‘benefitting’ from openness, but as a space that offers the common ground for building a radically open and international university culture.

Dr Stefania Merlo and Dr Rebecca Roberts - Open Data for Open Research - Reflections on the Curation of Digital Archives for Heritage Management in the Global South

Who is open data for? Activities that aim to realise the ideals of open science, and particularly open access and open data have been the focus of academic environments, in particular universities, in the global North in the past decade. However, the current model of open science has systematically excluded the global South and less ‘rich’ disciplines and institutions in the Global North.  
This talk reflects on the opportunities and challenges relating to the production and dissemination of information about archaeological sites and monuments as Open Access open data through our experience within ongoing work in the Mapping Africa’s Endangered Archaeological Sites and Monuments (MAEASaM) and Mapping Archaeological Heritage in South Asia (MAHSA) projects. The projects, both based in the UK and funded by a UK charitable organisation (Arcadia), aim to establish secure publicly accessible digital geospatial repositories of sites and monuments records in Africa and South Asia, using a multi-stakeholder approach and working closely with in-country partners who are mandated with the management of heritage sites. Despite the remit of the projects, and their commitment to creating open data in collaboration with and for local partners, several issues remain ranging from the positionality of the personnel involved in this project, their personal and institutional aspirations, aspects of governance, matters of the transformation of paper records into digital data, and responsibilities linked to the fact that making resources available is not equal to fostering researchers’ (or the general public’s) ability to use them. 


Dr Mary Chester-Kadwell - Engaging with Open Research Practices for Code and Data in Digital Humanities and Collections-Based Research

Traditionally, the Open Research agenda has been driven from the perspective of science disciplines. Many of the principles are not well known in other contexts, such as the humanities and library special collections - or the practices can seem unfamiliar or ill-fitting. In this talk I will reflect on my experiences engaging with students, researchers and curators around best practices for preparing and sharing code and data.

Dr Ayesha Fuentes - I'm not Free until we're all Free: On Learning and Teaching Collections Care and Museum Practice in Buddhist Spaces

This talk will reflect on the author’s experience of working as a conservator specializing in archaeological and ethnographic collections in Buddhist practitioner settings, and particularly through recent projects in the southern Himalayas. This includes a discussion of resource management, knowledge exchange, and capacity building as well as opportunities for reflection on the ethics and practice of caring for material heritage. This presentation will focus on how the practice of conservation and the language used to articulate its goals and methods can and should be shaped by its social, cultural and institutional context. Further, this work will explore how museum-making and the development of collections care protocols specific to a practitioner setting – and particularly those which rely on local skills and knowledge - can be used as a platform for critical engagement and learning for all participants.

Dr Agustina Martinez - Open Research Infrastructure – Supporting Open Research Practices at Cambridge

Open Research helps to support key features of research and innovation such as transparency, openness, verification and reproducibility and it also helps to foster collaboration within and across disciplines. Institutional support for open, suitable infrastructures that underpin research plays a key role in enabling open research practices within the research community at Cambridge, and beyond. In this talk I will provide an overview of the open research programme currently being developed, with a particular focus on those areas / projects concerned with the implementation of open systems and services to support open research practices such as alternative publishing models and the role of institutional repositories in supporting early publication of research findings in ways that maximise discovery and impact following FAIR (Findable, Accessible, Interoperable and Re-usable) principles, amongst others.


Tim Fellows - An Alternative Publishing Model to Foster Open Research is a free, UKRI funded publishing model that eschews the concept of a research paper in favour of smaller “micro publications”. These are designed to more closely represent how research is conducted by representing key stages of the research process. Each micro publication can be linked together to form collaborative networks of research, and these smaller works are assessed individually, allowing for more specialised peer review.

Octopus is designed to sit alongside journals as their open-research focused counterpart, using this structure of “micro-publications” to provide a dedicated place for researchers to publish a record of who did what, and when, in detail, for the benefit of specialists. In doing so, the platform aims to aid reproducibility, facilitate new ways of working and remove barriers to both publishing and accessing research.

Dr Joanna Page - Open Research and the Coloniality of Knowledge

How does the open research agenda intersect with the quest to decolonize knowledge? In this talk I will introduce projects by three Latin American artists who have engaged with Humboldt’s legacy and the coloniality of knowledge, with particular regard to questions of possession and access. I will explore to what extent current models of open research may actually reproduce the coloniality of knowledge: what forms of intellectual and creative practices might be erased or marginalized in the pursuit of open access? Some of the tensions between public accessibility and the practice of non-Western forms of knowledge come to light in recent Latin American documentaries about the restoration to indigenous communities of human remains kept in European museums. In concluding, I will ask how we might identify where the principles of open research conflict with those of inclusion and cognitive justice, and what might be done to reconcile those ambitions.

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