Open Science: some new developments

There have been several interesting articles of late on open science.

Scientists Embrace Openness, by Chelsea Wald, Science, April 9, 2010


History is replete with stories of scientists who hid their ideas from their competition; consider Leonardo da Vinci, whose odd backward writing may have been partly motivated by fear of thieves, or Isaac Newton, who concealed one idea by writing it in the form of an anagram. Science has long been a dog-eat-dog world.

So it may seem odd that a handful of scientists are going to similar lengths to share not just their results but also, sometimes, their raw data — even their lab notebooks — often in real time. They’re part of a movement called Open Science, or, more specifically, Open Notebook Science, whose motto is “no insider information.”

At first glance, going “open” would seem like a serious career risk — years of work could be for nothing if a competitor uses your work to beat you to publication — but many practitioners of openness say the benefits outweigh those risks. The benefits include increased opportunities for collaboration, more feedback from colleagues, and a greater likelihood that the research will get to the people who can use it. Counterintuitively, practitioners say that being open supports their claims of priority and relieves their anxiety about getting ripped off.

Open science: policy implications for the evolving phenomenon of user-led scientific innovation, by Victoria Stodden,  Journal of Science Communication, volume 09, 2010,  Issue 01, March 2010.


From contributions of astronomy data and DNA sequences to disease treatment research, scientific activity by non-scientists is a real and emergent phenomenon, and raising policy questions. This involvement in science can be understood as an issue of access to publications, code, and data that facilitates public engagement in the research process, thus appropriate policy to support the associated welfare enhancing benefits is essential. Current legal barriers to citizen participation can be alleviated by scientists’ use of the “Reproducible Research Standard,” thus making the literature, data, and code associated with scientific results accessible. The enterprise of science is undergoing deep and fundamental changes, particularly in how scientists obtain results and share their work: the promise of open research dissemination held by the Internet is gradually being fulfilled by scientists. Contributions to science from beyond the ivory tower are forcing a rethinking of traditional models of knowledge generation, evaluation, and communication. The notion of a scientific “peer” is blurred with the advent of lay contributions to science raising questions regarding the concepts of peer-review and recognition. New collaborative models are emerging around both open scientific software and the generation of scientific discoveries that bear a similarity to open innovation models in other settings. Public engagement in science can be understood as an issue of access to knowledge for public involvement in the research process, facilitated by appropriate policy to support the welfare enhancing benefits deriving from citizen-science.

My Data, Your Data, Our Data, by Amy Dockser Marcus, Wall Street Journal, April 13, 2010