RDA 14th Plenary - Unconference

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26 September 2019 2519 reads



15:00-18:30, 24 October 2019, Thursday - part of the main RDA Plenary programme 

What it is

This is  an informal but structured forum to facilitate collaboration and knowledge exchange. In short: 

(1) The audience proposes topics of interest, and (2) participants break up into discussion groups to explore them, (3) all participants are free to choose the topic(s) and join the discussion group(s) of interest. 


Schedule available at 


What it's NOT

It's not just for geeks, you don't have to know github or how to code, no experience needed, no presentations are given, no preparation is necessary on your part. 

How to join in

More information on how to sign-up and submit your ideas will follow in the coming weeks - watch this space! 

Topics will be collected prior to the Plenary but you will also be able to submit ideas throughout the meeting too. You are welcome and encouraged to join without signing up or submitting any topic ideas. 

What the literature says

“Unconference”, refers to a range of less structured gathering formats, from Birds of a Feather type short sessions, through to multi-day events that replace conventional conference gatherings, and various formats between these 2 extremes.  Common to all formats is the difference that where traditional conferences’ theme, structure, and content are all pre-arranged by an organising committee, unconferences are facilitated by organisers but the content and structure is driven by those in attendance and the event is dominated by informal rather than formal interactions.  Initially this can sound as if it would be too chaotic to be efficient, however, within academic literature and the authors’ experiences there is significant evidence for how various instantiations of such events have significantly benefited communities [1–4].  To select just 2 quotes that stand out as relevant: “Unconferences are well suited to promoting interactions and networking between attendees as they allow a more flexible agenda. Discussion topics are shaped and influenced by participants, with exchanges of knowledge from many to many.”[1]. “Participants have claimed they can accomplish more in two days using an open-space-like model than they might after months of attacking an issue through other means.”[2].

[1]     Budd A, Dinkel H, Corpas M, Fuller JC, Rubinat L, Devos DP, et al. Ten simple rules for organizing an unconference. PLoS Comput Biol. 2015;11: e1003905.
[2]     Ingebretsen M. Unconferences Catch On with Developers. IEEE Softw. 2008;25: 108–110.
[3]     Foo’s paradise. Nature. 2006;442: 848.
[4]     Cameron Craddock R, S Margulies D, Bellec P, Nolan Nichols B, Alcauter S, A Barrios F, et al. Brainhack: a collaborative workshop for the open neuroscience community. Gigascience. 2016;5: 16.