Tag: ULg

Open Access week: October 24-31, 2011

For once, I won’t write about a day here but about a week: this week is the Open Access week (OA week). In this fourth edition, it’s not time anymore to explain one more time what is Open Access (but if you still want to read about it, read the Wikipedia article or Peter Suber’s overview). This year, this week is defined as “an opportunity […] to continue to learn about the potential benefits of Open Access, to share what they’ve learned with colleagues, and to help inspire wider participation in helping to make Open Access a new norm in scholarship and research“.

I was curious about what is the state of Open Access in Belgian universities. On the OA week website, only two Belgian events were registered: one workshop centered around pending issues in the management of institutional repositories (organized by the national science funding body – FNRS) and one stream of activities at the University of Liege (yipee, ULg is my Alma Mater!). The new thing (at least for me) is that both event are either captured on video or launched with a video. The launch video from the University of Liege includes interviews with researchers telling how Open Access helps them and others (it’s a pity the entry page for its library network is still the same as ten years ago).

Paul Thirion about the OA week at the University of Liege
Paul Thirion about the OA week at the University of Liege

If you look for the information, you’ll find that the University of Ghent is also participating in the Open Access week, with two professors describing Open Access in videos in Dutch and a website about it (in collaboration with the ULg): http://www.openaccess.be.

Other Belgian universities usually support Open Access without any specific action about this week (except ULB with a recap mainly on the financial benefits). Is it a sign that Open Access is losing momentum or just became part of everyday life in universities?

One more Open Source software at ULg

ExamsAfter the promotion of Open Access (see Bernard Rentier’s blog) and a history of publications in Open Access journals (see this last article from the Cyclotron Research Center in PLoS), the University of Liege is slowly slowly publishing Open Source software too.

The last free software published is exams, an assessment management system (for on-line exams, …). They chose the GNU GPL 2, apparently without the possibility to upgrade to version 3 (I don’t know if it’s deliberate or not). And you can download the source code here.

What is even more interesting is that they provide a demonstration website if you want to test it in a nearly real setup (as examiners or students ; only in French). And the demonstration system is hosted by a commercial hosting company (OVH), indicating that it could be possible to use this system on very common platforms (only PHP/MySQL are required).

Now, we can dream of other software from the ULg released as free software, a subversion repository and a users/developers community around exams

P.S.: of course, we already did all that 😉 since we published Gemvid in an Open Access journal (the Journal of Circadian Rhythms) and published it along with a lot of other tools as free software. But I don’t count this as an institutional push towards free software since it was mainly my decision and the development didn’t involved other people.