Research foundations

Magnify the impact of your investment in research

As a research sponsor, the value of your investment is measured primarily by research outcomes — whether the results increase understanding in a particular area of science or lead to important new discoveries, such as gene targets for drugs and therapeutics. Unfortunately, the systems and formats governing the flow of knowledge in science sharply limit the impact of funded research and block follow-on innovation.

Science Commons is working to change that, offering you resources, strategies and tools, designed for the Web, to maximize the chances for innovation coming from your investments in science. We can help you by:

Streamlining the process of procuring or transferring materials — Currently, no adequate infrastructure exists for the transfer of unique research materials such as DNA plasmids, leaving transfer professionals to grapple with unnecessarily complex legal negotiations. Through our Materials Transfer Agreement (MTA) Project, we facilitate the emergence of a truly modern transaction and fulfillment system along the lines of Amazon or eBay, so researchers can have “one click” access to materials regardless of where they originate. Uniquely, our system — now live in beta on the  iBridgeSM Network — integrates the existing academic transfer system, but also lets biotechnology and pharmaceutical companies use your materials for research purposes, without requiring that you give up rights critical for later commercial development. In addition, we partner with major biobanks such as the Coriell Cell Culture Repository and the Addgene Plasmid Repository to speed orders through third-party fulfillment.

Integrating databases to increase the chances for discovery — In an environment of database proliferation, relevant information is hard to find and piece together — fragmented in field-specific data repositories, opaque to web crawlers or buried in pages of search results that aren’t useful to scientists. In our NeuroCommons Project, we integrate databases using a common computer language, so scientists can effectively query the research being produced not only in their own fields, but in related fields. By integrating databases both legally and technically, we open the information to unanticipated uses, multiplying the opportunities for discovery. We also provide an open source, award-winning gene analytics software suite, originally developed at Millennium Pharmaceuticals. The growing knowledgebase and analytics software together represent the first open source knowledge management platform for the life sciences.

Enhancing the usefulness of the literature — Often, research is published with legal and technical barriers that limit its usefulness, restricting not only access, but also the use of computer technologies to enrich and analyze the literature. Through our Scholar’s Copyright Project, we develop and promote policy and legal tools to help people and organizations open and mark their research and data sets for reuse. These tools are designed to facilitate downstream use while ensuring that authors and publishers are properly credited for their work. As part of our work in this area, we have released an open data protocol to enable the global scientific community to pool and use data created under different legal regimes.

In addition to our project work, Science Commons is assembling a best practices guide to help you take advantage of the simple tools and policies that are already available.

We are a nonprofit organization, and all of the information and assistance we offer is free.  If you would like to collaborate with us to lower barriers to research, we strongly encourage you to contact us.