Open Science Movement
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(For even more information on our history and organizational structure, click here .) There are petabytes of research data being produced in laboratories around the world, but the best web search tools available can’t help us make sense of it. Why?
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While many data sharing programs exist worldwide, widespread sharing of raw data has not yet won across-the-board acceptance in the scientific community, and the very existence of all these databases makes the approach fractured at best. The Data Sharing Project, launched last year by University of California-San Francisco Professor Michael Weiner, has two goals: One is to make widespread raw data sharing a reality — initially in the realm of medicine — through creation of a repository system accessible to all researchers; the second goal is to foster broad scientific support for this move and its adoption in other fields of research. While there is a long-established tradition in the scientific realm of collaborative efforts to enhance knowledge, this has generally been limited to the sharing of pre-prints.
Open Notebook Science is the practice of making the entire primary record of a research project publicly available online as it is recorded. This involves placing the personal, or laboratory, notebook of the researcher online along with all raw and processed data, and any associated material, as this material is generated. The approach may be summed up by the slogan 'no insider information'. It is the logical extreme of transparent approaches to research and explicitly includes the making available of failed, less significant, and otherwise unpublished experiments; so called 'Dark Data'. [ 1 ] The practice of Open Notebook Science, although not the norm in the academic community, has gained significant recent attention in the research, [ 2 ] [ 3 ] general, [ 1 ] [ 4 ] and peer-reviewed [ 5 ] media as part of a general trend towards more open approaches in research practice and publishing.
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I believe that the academic paper is now obsolescent as the fundamental sharable description of a piece of research. In the future we will be sharing some other form of scholarly artefact, something which is digital and designed for reuse and to drop easily into the tooling of e-Research, and better suited to the emerging practices of data-centric researchers. These could be called Knowledge Objects or Publication Objects or whatever: I shall refer to them as Research Objects, because they capture research . Thus opened my August 2009 blog post " Replacing the paper: The Six Rs of the e-Research Record ", which provided a 6-point definition of the properties of these sharable Research Objects. This definition has evolved through many conversations and presentations so today I'm re-presenting it, revised, reordered and, err, resplendent in its greater numerosity.
On Father’s Day three years ago, biologist Jonathan Eisen decided he’d like to republish all his father’s papers. His father, Howard Eisen, a biologist and a researcher at the National Institutes of Health, had published 40-some-odd papers by the time that he died by suicide at age 45. That had been in Febuary 1987, while Jonathan, a sophomore at college, was on the verge of discovering his own love of biology. At the time, virtually all scientific papers were just on paper.
<img class="aligncenter size-large wp-image-94116" title="Prairie Fire" src="http://www.wired.com/images_blogs/wiredscience/2012/01/Prairie-Fire-660x389.jpg" alt="" width="660" height="389" /> For years, the open science movement has sought to light a fire about the “closed” journal-publication system. In the last few weeks their efforts seemed to have ignited a broader flame, driven mainly, it seems, by the revelation that one of the most resented publishers, Elsevier, was backing the Research Works Act — some tomfoolery I noted in Congress Considers Paywalling Science You Already Paid For , on Jan 6. Now, 24 days later, scientists are pledging by the hundreds to not cooperate with Elsevier in any way — refusing to publish in its journals, referee its papers, or do the editorial work that researchers have been supplying to journals without charge for decades — and the rebellion is repeatedly reaching the pages of the New York Times and Forbes .
Should you be able to read research you’ve helped to fund? A few years ago, Congress decided this was a good idea, and approved an access policy that makes most taxpayer-funded research freely available online within 12 months of publication. This modest step toward open access — which, as I’ve written before , is vital to healthy science and science policy — has proven a huge boon to researchers and also to those of us who write about science, while leaving most publisher profits quite healthy. Now, however, as UC Berkeley evolutionary biologist Michael Eisen relates , a proposed bill threatens to reverse this policy:
Despite ‘ open science ‘ getting a lot of play lately, many people don’t quite get what it is. That’s understandable, because people use it to mean many things — open access to science publications; open sharing of data; open protocols of communication; open everything. Can get a little fuzzy. It takes a good story to pull it all together, and that’s what Michael Nielsen delivers here: A nice, short, TED-sized story about a slick project that shows the power of open science’s main principles. Nielsen gave the talk a few weeks ago at TEDxWaterloo , one of the independently organized TED events, in this case, at Kitchener-Waterloo, Canada.