Of Schemes and Memes Blog

October’s SoNYC: What’s holding up open access?

On Thursday evening, we hosted the fifteenth installment of the monthly SpotOn (formerly Science Online) NYC discussion series. This month’s event was extra special as it was our first outing under our new name. For more info on the renaming, check out the info here. The hashtag for these events remains #sonyc.

This month’s event was hosted at the Rockefeller University and the topic for discussion was, “What’s holding up open access?”

In September, the high-energy physics community and 10 publishers came to an agreement:  all future papers in the field would be published open access.  In biology, the US government and a number of private foundations are also pushing for publications to be open access.  Although there are an increasing number of open access publishing options, lots of scientific results still sit behind paywalls. Our panel will discuss the challenges faced by open access publishing platforms, and the barriers that are limiting its wider adoption.  We’ll also consider whether opening up the publishing process at an earlier stage could be beneficial to science.


  • Jennifer McLennan leads publicity and marketing for eLife, the new open-access initiative from leading biomedical research funders, and has strong background in open-access policy advocacy and community-building.
  • Lane Rasberry is Wikipedian in Residence at Consumer Reports and currently works on getting better health science information on Wikipedia.
  • Oya Rieger is an associate university librarian at Cornell, where she oversees the electronic publishing and preservation efforts, including the arXiv.

Preparing for the event 

In anticipation of the discussion, we ran a series of guest posts on the SpotOn blog,  hearing from scientists, publishers and communicators, about whether opening up the publishing process at an earlier stage could be good for science and how open access may be of benefit to those working in developing countries. The conversations were also shared online using the #OAontheway hashtag.

Blog posts about the 15th #sonyc

Do let us know if you blog about the event and we’ll include a round-up of links here. You can also let us know if you’d like to create a guest post about the event for the SpotOn blog – please mail us with your ideas: spoton@nature.com.

Live-streaming and video archiving

We live-stream each SoNYC event to give as many people as possible the chance to take part in the debate. Our livestreaming is generously supported by Figshare.

On the new site, you can now find the livestream archive from each event on that event’s own page here. This month’s details can be found here.

Finding out more

Keep an eye on the SpotOn website and watch the #sonyc hashtag for more details about the next SpotOn NYC event which will be held in December.

If you have a suggestion for a future panel or would be interested in sponsoring one of the events, please get in touch.


This Storify collates the online conversations around October 17th’s SoNYC.




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