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What’s open science?

August 22nd, 2008 by dwentworth

That’s the question many of us have been grappling with in the wake of two unforgettable unconferences: BioBarCamp and SciFoo.

Over at Science in the open, Cameron Neylon writes:

During the introduction [at BioBarCamp] many people expressed an interest in “Open Science”, “Open Data”, or some other open stuff, yet it was already pretty clear that many people meant many different things by this. I think for me the most striking outcome of [a session to define it] was that not only is this a radically new concept for many people but that many people don’t have any background understanding of open source software either which can make the discussion totally impenetrable to them. This, in my view strengthens the need for having some clear brands, or standards, that are easy to point to and easy to sign up to (or not).

This is one of the reasons why Science Commons has published a set of principles for open science, which we prepared for our satellite workshop at ESOF 2008 (you can download the PDF or read them online here). We hope not only to help bring more clarity to the discussion, but also to pave the way for integrating all kinds of open science projects in a shared collaborative infrastructure.

For a taste of the conversation happening elsewhere, here are snippets from relevant posts published in the last few weeks:

Cat Allman @ the Google Open Source Blog: “Certain themes recurred [at SciFoo 2008]. One was the need to do a better job of open sourcing data within the science community, including negative results; such sharing would enable collaboration and prevent scientists from ‘reinventing the wheel.'”

Shirley Wu @ One Big Lab: “At BioBarCamp this past weekend (many thanks to John Cumbers and Attila Csordas for organizing!), the future of science became a recurring theme, with an impromptu discussion on open science the first day and spirited sessions on open science, web 2.0, the data commons, change in science, science ‘worship’, and redefining ‘impact‘ and ‘failure‘ the second. Each of these topics could be their own blog series, and, in fact, many of them are. Even if people didn’t always agree on the details, it was clear that everyone there (a biased group, inarguably) agreed that change is necessary, and inevitable. The question is, what will that change look like, and how will we get there?”

Cameron Neylon @ Science in the open: “Helen [Berman] made the point strongly that it had taken 37 years to get the [Protein Data Bank] to where it is today; a gold standard international and publically available repository of a specific form of research data supported by a strong set of community accepted, and enforced, rules and conventions. We don’t want to take another 37 years to achieve the widespread adoption of high standards in data availability and open practice in research more generally.”

Chris Patil @ Ouroboros: “Given a suitable set of one-to-one and one-to-many agreements between the stakeholders [in scientific research], then, the benefits of sharing could come to outweigh any conceivable advantage derived from secrecy. Perhaps ‘open science’ could be defined (for the moment) as the quest to design and optimize these agreements, along with the quest to design the best tools and licenses to empower scientists as they move from the status quo into the next system — because (and this is very important) if it is to ever succeed, open science has to work not because of governmental fiat or because a large number of people suddenly start marching in lockstep to an unnatural tune, but because it works better than competing models.”

Our own Kaitlin Thaney, who organized the ESOF satellite workshop, led an impromptu session on open science at BioBarCamp, and we’re eager to continue the conversation. If you’re interested in helping to keep the ball rolling, let us know.

One Response

  1. موبایل, on September 2nd, 2008 at 2:58 am

    Thanks for your suggestions.