APO Forum 2018 wrap up

The second APO Annual Forum took place on the 25th of October at Engineer’s Australia – a venue which never fails to impress with its stunning high rise views over Melbourne – where delegates were joined by an impressive array of speakers from around Australia and abroad. 

Theme and topics

This year’s theme: ‘Redesigning the Public Knowledge System: New Tools and Strategies for Research, Policy and Practice’ addressed the global crisis in the production, use and management of publicly funded research and information across all industries.

Held during International Open Access Week in partnership with the Australasian Open Access Strategy Group (AOASG), the second APO Forum responded to the OA Week call to ‘Design the equitable foundations for open knowledge’.  The purpose of this objective was to examine issues affecting research publishing and use in public policy, practice and industry, and to look at how we can change aspects of the system to ensure public knowledge is Findable, Accessible, Interoperable, Reusable (F.A.I.R.), both now and into the future.

The Forum discussions broadly covered:

  • Business models and strategies for reinventing and supporting the public value of knowledge;
  • Innovative publishing and social data platforms;
  • The challenges and opportunities for research engagement and impact, knowledge mobilisation, equity and access, and open government; and
  • The potential and dangers of new technologies and automated decision-making.

Forum Sessions

Note: Videos and slides of the sessions will be made available shortly.

Kicking off the day’s proceedings was Professor Jane Farmer, Director of the Social Innovation Research Institute at Swinburne University and Chair of the APO Advisory Board. Jane also presented APO’s new brand video ‘It’s Good Policy’. Watch the video here:

Keynote: Howard White, The Campbell Collaboration

Next up was Keynote Speaker Howard White from The Campbell Collaboration who presented on ‘The Four Waves of the Evidence Revolution’. Howard, who was visiting from the UK,  brought a wealth of experience in evidence, impact and evaluation, and had the audience captivated throughout a highly engaging session. 

Open Knowledge and the Public Interest: Issues and Strategies 

The first panel session was chaired by open access champion and co-producer of the APO Forum, Dr Ginny Barbour – who is the Director of AOASG as well as a Professor at Queensland University of Technology.

On the panel, Gwenda Thomas, who is the Director of Scholarly Services & University Librarian at University of Melbourne gave a heartfelt presentation on ‘Equity and (Open) Access’, followed by former Australian politician and  Chair of the Australian Open Government Partnership Network, Dr Ken Coghill, who provided a refreshing perspective on the ‘Open Government Partnership National Action Plan’. Karen Mahlab, founder and CEO of Pro Bono Australia finished with a passionate presentation on ‘The Need for Public Interest Journalism’.

Mobilising Knowledge(s): Practices and Perspectives for Connecting Research and Public Policy

The next session, ‘Mobilising Knowledge(s): Practices and Perspectives for Connecting Research’, was chaired by longtime supporter of APO, and Chair of the Australian Digital Alliance, Derek Whitehead.

The first speaker was Professor Lisa Given, Associate Dean (Research and Engagement) in Swinburne University’s  Faculty of Health, Arts and Design, who gave an impressive presentation on achieving ‘Engaging Academic Research’. Associate Professor Catherine Althaus from the Australian and New Zealand School of Government (ANZSOG) followed with an inspiring  talk entitled ‘Recognition Rather than Redesign? The Value of Indigenous Evidence’. To end the session, APO Director Amanda Lawrence gave an enthusiastic presentation on ‘Alternative Publishing and Platforms for Policy Evidence and Influence’.

Lightning Talks 

This year’s forum had the special edition of Lightening Talks – where delegates applied to speak for five minutes on any topic relating to the Public Knowledge System. APO’s Operations Director Michelle Zwagerman chaired this lively session.

Lighting Talk speakers:

  • Ginny Barbour – AOASG: ‘Disseminating Knowledge with Wikipedia-integrated Academic Journals’
  • Thomas Shafee – WikiJournal of Science: ‘Disseminating Knowledge with Wikipedia-integrated Academic Journals’
  • Brendan Fitzgerald – 641 DI: ‘Community Voices: Information Challenges for Alliances in Real Life’
  • Craig Burton – Centre for Urban Transitions: ‘A PlumX Citation System for Grey Literature?’
  • Pompeu Casanovas Romeu – La Trobe Law School: ‘Linked Democracy and the Meta-rule of Law.

Data, Platforms and Connected Knowledge

After lunch, Professor Susan Luckman from University of South Australia (UniSA) entertained with her lively chairing of the ‘Data, Platforms and Connected Knowledge’ session. 

Professor Julian Thomas from RMIT University gave a future-looking talk on ‘Trust, AI and Blockchains: Imagining Automated Decision Making’. This was followed by a thoughtful presentation from Pru Mitchell from the Australian Council for Educational Research (ACER) on ‘Wikidata, Wikipedia and Integrated Knowledge Systems’.  Associate Professor Amir Aryani, who heads up the Social Data Analytics (SoDA Lab) at Swinburne University, concluded this session with some fantastic visualisations in ‘Connecting Systems and Visualising Networks of Technology’.

Knowledge Cafe – Making Change Happen: Designing the Roadmap

Before drawing to a close, we wanted to hear from our delegates themselves on their ideas for improving open knowledge systems. Brendan Fitzgerald, Director of 641 DI, facilitated this knowledge sharing event. Each table presented back to the room with their ideas after a series of breakout sessions – with some delightfully creative summaries. 

Plenary and Next Steps

Brendan Fitzgerald then made closing remarks and encouraged delegates to consider ‘where to from here’ for public knowledge. APO Director Amanda Lawrence and Swinburne University’s Jane Farmer also gave their thanks to  our diverse and highly engaged participants in conclusion of a wonderfully successful Forum.

We look forward to seeing you all again next year!

Forum Feedback

If you would like to provide feedback on the APO Forum, or you have ideas for next year, let us know by filling in the APO Forum 2018 Feedback Form by 31st December 2018.

More photos from the day…

Author: Emily Silvester

Marketing and Communications at APO. If you'd like to guest blog on public policy issues or research get in touch esilvester@apo.org.au