Open Access – Sharing Experiences on a Life in Science

Open Access – Sharing Experiences on a Life in Science

Open Access – Sharing Experiences on a Life in Science

As part of the My Life in Science seminar series the equality4success team invites speakers to talk to Babraham Institute staff and students about their life, career, marrying the two and the challenges they have overcome throughout. However, asking them to cover all those topics in a single talk can be a challenge in itself! Especially for Danny Kingsley who had the daunting brief of talking about all those aspects, whilst also evangelising about Open Access and Open Research Data. Thankfully Danny rose to the occasion and gave a very entertaining and thought provoking talk to a sell-out crowd.

Danny told us about her early career in Australia, including anecdotes about writing her honours thesis in the mid-90’s, an analysis of the ‘debate on [using] electronic journals in science communication’. “Scientists publish in print journals - using the internet to share information and publish data is a fad, it’ll never catch on” was a frequently heard opinion, something the intervening 20 years have proven very wrong.

Post degree she worked as a science journalist and quickly realised that open access publishing would revolutionise how data and information is disseminated. To dive deeper into the matter, she embarked on a PhD looking at discipline specific engagement with open access. As an example of how work and family life sometimes intersect in the least convenient ways she told us how she “signed the contract on my PhD from a hospital bed the day after my first child was born”.

The knowledge and expertise Danny developed during her PhD enabled her to undertake various roles in the Open Access arena in Australia, culminating in establishing the Australasian Open Access Strategy Group. To start with, working in a relatively new field, often as the lone voice (and a young, female one at that), brought many challenges and. “It was often a struggle to change the hearts and minds of people who were set in their ways”. However, Danny talked about how she dealt with these trials and championed the concept of having a mentor, someone who will provide you with unbiased advice and advocate on your behalf.

In 2013 Danny moved to the University of Cambridge as Head of the Office of Scholarly Communication (OSC). She explained the current open access publishing model in the UK and how her team embed best practise within researchers at the University through outreach events, training, policy development and building user friendly infrastructure. The OSC also actively promotes the Open Research agenda. Danny’s thesis is that “sharing your results throughout the lifecycle, appropriately rewarding people for doing so and not relying on publishing the end results in a ‘fancy pants’ journal will lead to an improved scholarly record and a fairer system of review”. This lead to an interesting discussion with the audience about alternative mechanisms and metrics that could be used to measure quality.

Are you interested to become engaged with open access, open data and want to increase your expertise with research data management? The Office of Scholarly Communication does offer considerable support and an overview on their extensive resources can be found under

Danny has built a successful career by pursuing her interests, which has brought considerable benefits to research communities both in the UK and overseas. She very honestly explained the personal challenges that resulted from her career choices, shared her hectic diary and explained that going to the gym is the primary way she keeps sane whilst balancing all this. At any point Danny’s passion and enthusiasm for her chosen career shone through and it was a great demonstration of the important contribution non-academics bring to research.