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Friday, August 31, 2018

My FSCI2018: A Scholarship that Makes the Difference

FORCE11
FSCI 2018 Participants
Exactly one month ago, I was part of the august gathering of distinguished scholars, librarians, publishers, research funders and everyone else in the scholarly communications sector that attended the FORCE11 Scholarly Communications Institute for year 2018 (FSCI2018). The event took place at the very reputable campus of the renowned University of California, San Diego, La Jolla. Participation was global with participants turning up from six (6) continents among which, I guess, two of us from the blessed continent of Africa. I made it, substantially, courtesy of the tuition and travel scholarship granted by the organisers. That said, what is FSCI or even FORCE11 to start with?
FORCE11 (The Future of Research Communications and e-Scholarship 2011) is a community of scholars, librarians, archivists, publishers and research funders that has arisen organically to help facilitate the change toward improved knowledge creation and sharing. Individually and collectively, it aims to bring about a change in modern scholarly communications through the effective use of information technology. This they do through annual conferences since 2011 and FORCE11 Scholarly Communications Institute (FSCI) since 2017.
The FSCI, pronounced physkey, situated at the University of California, San Diego, is a week long summer training course, incorporating intensive coursework, seminar participation, group activities, lectures and hands-on training. Participants attended courses taught by world-wide leading experts in scholarly communications. Participants also have the opportunity to discuss the latest trends and gain expertise in new technologies in research flow, new forms of publication, new standards and expectations, and new ways of measuring and demonstrating success that are transforming science and scholarship.
The 2018 programme was structured to allow for one AM (morning) course all week and two PM (afternoon) courses within the week. These are really tempting courses, very appealing. Just like many participants had headaches choosing which course, I eventually settled for the following courses:
Inside Scholarly Communications Today (AM, Monday to Friday) where we covered topics like: History of scholarly communications, Technology and information transfer, Financial flows in scholarly publishing and Peer review and its complications. The course was taken by Cameron Neylon, PhD, Professor of Research Communications, Centre for Culture and Technology, Curtin University, Australia 
Open Data Visualization - Tools and Techniques to Better Report Data (PM, Monday-Tuesday) where we learnt about Superset data visualization software and were exposed to other scholarly communication software like Story Map, Dataverse, etc. With Superset, we tried our hands on novel ways data can be visualized beyond charts and graphs. Gaurav Godhwani, Technical Lead and Advisor, Centre for Budget and Governance Accountability (CBGA India) and Chapter Leader, DataKind Bangalore instructed this course. He was the first participant I met upon arriving Revelle College, UCSD and now a friend.
Mentoring the Next Generation of Open Scholars: Approaches, Tools & Tactics (PM, Wednesday- Thursday): Scholarly publishing literacy, Copyright literacy, Open pedagogy, Open source and free software options were discussed.

The courses, apart from plenary sessions, do-a-thon and short lightning talks exposed me to the trends, tools and techniques in scholarly communications and open education resources. Robyn Hall, Scholarly Communications Librarian, MacEwan University, Edmonton, Canada chaired and instructed this beautiful course.
The benefits of the above courses are numerous. These, apart from plenary sessions, Do-A-Thon and short lightning talks exposed me to the trends, tools and techniques in scholarly communications and open education resources. The PowerPoint Karaoke was novel. Participating in FSCI has broadened my professional horizon. It has connected me to vast resources of people and materials needed to prosper in my new office of Scholarly Communications Librarian, the very first of such office to be so called in Nigeria, I guess.
Adegbilero-Iwari Idowu  and a Sea lion at the La Jolla Cove
As a trained Scholarly Communications Librarian, I can now go ahead to fulfill the demands of my office as a pioneer in my country and mentor others to greater success. But the scholarship makes the difference. I, thus, hope that the scholarship programme is continuous and enlarged so as to afford opportunities for more people, especially from Africa.
Worth mentioning as a special gain is the opportunity to meet Daniel Paul O'Donnell, Professor of English, University of Lethbridge, and among many things, the President of FORCE11. On the heels of this, Professor O'Donnell will be presenting the maiden edition of Library Visiting Scholar Lecture Series of Elizade University, Ilara-Mokin, Ondo State, Nigeria come September 28, 2018. I am very upbeat at the opportunities it portends for us as an institution, Nigeria as a country and FORCE11 as a community.
Idowu and Claudia of Mississippi State University
La Jolla, an upscale city called a village, provides visitors with great, serene and inspiring experiences. While at UCSD, the 64 degrees cafeteria will ensure your appetites are satisfied but a visit to the Geisel Library will awe your heart. Besides, watching the sun set or kind of deep into the Pacific Ocean on the Piers of Scripps Institution of Oceanography, especially with confident narrations from Steven, the memory of your visit will just be evergreen.
God bless Lusia, Stephanie and all the administrators of the institute and the entire FORCE11 community. God willing, see you at FSCI2019...



Idowu Adegbilero-Iwari,
Scholarly Communications Librarian
Elizade University, Ilara-Mokin, Nigeria