From 4-6 June, the Fourth Global Conference on Transparency Research was held at the Università dela Svizzera italiana in Lugano.
The conference was again a large success. Some 60 papers were presented, while the conference was attended by almost 80 researchers and practitioners from five continents. The organisers were pleased to note the presence of a strong contingent of PhD researchers too, suggesting continuity for the nearby future in the field of government transparency research.
While the conference was marked by clear continuity -many participants of the last conference held in Paris were again present-, there was also an amount of consolidation of the academic community as well as new directions. For the first time, the conference was opened with a panel in which large-scale transparency/open government related research projects were discussed, among them ROUTE-TO-PA (based in Europe), the Transparency Audit Network (Latin America), and the World Bank RTI Implementation Project (North-America). The academics involved in these projects informed participants of their objectives and of possible ways to be involved. A further way of consolidating the outcome of the conference will be through a special issue in the journal Public Integrity.
New directions could be observed in the papers that were presented. More than before, papers were concerned with transparency in its digital form, in relation to open government (and in its institutional form, to the Open Government Partnership), and as a dependent variable. Several papers also broadened the scope of attention beyond ‘government transparency’ to look at ‘public transparency’, that is, a form of transparency where not the originator of information, but the purpose (public) is of key importance.
With several possible locations for the next GCTR, to be held in 2017, currently being considered, and with a lively, innovative, and highly multidisciplinary Lugano conference in the pocket the transparency research community seems to be thriving, and ready for the coming years.
Conference papers that were made publicly available can be found here.