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Maryann Martone on FORCE 17: “we need to harness our collective resources and expertise to effect change”

During the Force 2017 Conference, I had a lovely chat with Former President, Maryann Martone, who currently works with as their Director of Biosciences. This is what she had to say.

Why do you remain interested in the Force?

I am a researcher and a neuroscientist. Very early in my career I got into neuroscience data – we were making gigantic images of the brain. When the US National Institute of Health started to invest, in the late 1990s, in online infrastructure for neuroscience, I gravitated to it as opposed to wet lab. Now that we have the capacity to put data online, I felt it was of real value to do so. It would be sad to produce all these images and no one gets to see them. My basic consensus is that without data sharing you can’t solve something as complex as the brain. From about 2011 came a general realization that science was not transparent; in terms of code and data we were not publishing reproducible science. Most studies could not be reproduced. I started to notice this long before then and I was concerned that our current system of publication was not serving neuroscience very well. So I came into this because I believe we have an obligation to do research as well as we can do it. And if our incentive or rewards system (which is being recognized for what we do) are not what they should be, then we need to change that. It's good to get recognized for the work that you do.

What do you think about the event this year?

I thought it was a great conference, a lot of energy. There were some questions on whether FORCE is still a force and the answer is yes, and the conference showed that. My mind is still out on whether this format works, but I am still thinking about it. But I think the organisers did a great job and each meeting was different.

What is one thing you would recommend that was not addressed by the conference?

My reason for coming is because we spent two years of work on the Scholarly Commons Working Group and this is the first place to present it and gauge the interest of the FORCE community. The structure of this meeting didn’t facilitate that but overall the feedback and interactions we’ve had were extremely valuable and we have launched a Scholarly Commons Website.  

What happens after Friday (the end of the conference)?

The scholarship committee working group’s grant is finished. We will have a debriefing this afternoon to see what we can do in the future. Do we know where we are going? Yes. Are we there yet? No. Do we know how to get there? Yes. But is there a will to continue this program? I don’t know. I have a presentation on neuroscience, on how to make it fair, and a workshop on spinal cord injury. All the things I have learnt [at FORCE] I will carry, so I am proud that the things we have I can now spread worldwide so I will be out promoting. Take the things I have learned and bring it to people that aren’t in FORCE.

How do you plan to stay engaged?

I plan to continue working at the FORCE11 Scholarly Communications Summer Institute as a Teacher and if there is a FORCE 2018 then I will be there.

What area is not being addressed by FORCE that you think should receive some attention?

So my new thing is, many members of FORCE 11 are effectively competitors. But I don’t believe we have established the rules of engagement or best practices for how you constructively work with competitors. We need to acknowledge we are and I have seen the need for this. In a market economy, nobody has enough money, resources or reach to do a particular project. We need to work together more effectively, and as a President it was my intention to provide a mechanism for that to happen, where we harness our collective resources and expertise to effect change but I don’t see that as what we do.


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