open science

First, a brief statement about what I mean by science. The following definition is taken from the UK Science Council: “Science is the pursuit and application of knowledge and understanding of the natural and social world following a systematic methodology based on evidence.”  The last part of this definition is especially important: “systematic methodology based on evidence.”  Without it, science is impossible. To go a step farther, without transparency about such methodology, a truly open science is impossible. Transparency is what allows scientific findings to reviewed, challenged, retried, and confirmed or tossed out. Above all, open science requires that others can access, evaluate, and attempt to reproduce the work of others.

Science has gone digital. Open science is not this maverick idea; it’s becoming reality. About 35 percent of scientists are using things like blogs to consume and produce content (Bly, qtd. in Burke).

Just as open‐source software makes computer code available for examination and reuse for non-commercial purposes by anyone with sufficient interest and ability, open science advocates want to make research findings and the data behind them available for examination and reuse by anyone for the sake of the public good: “The more data is made openly available in a useful manner, the greater the level of transparency and reproducibility and hence the more efficient the scientific process becomes, to the benefit of society” (Molloy).

Open science does not mean giving up proprietary claims to research findings. In past centuries, scientists were moved to publish their work – and therefore make it publically available – in order, as David puts it, to “forestall prior claims to ideas by other scientists” (qtd. by Wallinsky 48). He mentions Newton’s Principa and Darwin’s On the Origin of Species as important examples of this race to publish. Both works have brought incalculable benefits to humankind. Of course, simply publishing a work is not sufficient to make it what we would call “open” nowadays. However, even today, “open science is both communal and competitive, open to free exchanges and proprietary claims” (David, “Historical Origins”). Indeed, some open science practices allow researchers to more quickly establish primacy over their work than is possible in a traditional model.

Open science is not a single concept, and it varies substantially in practice. It includes aspects from several different “open” movements. Certainly, the broad category of open access is an essential part of open science and – because science is meaningless without data – so is open data. Less essential, but still important, are the notions of open research, which may include such practices as open peer review and open notebook science, and open platform.

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References

Burke, Adrienne J. “From open-access journals to research-review blogs, networked knowledge has made science more accessible to more people around the globe than we could have imagined 20 years ago.” Seed Magazine. June 5, 2012. Web.

David, Paul A. “The historical origins of ‘open science’” working paper, Stanford University, Economics Dept. June, 2007. Web.

Molloy, J.C. “The Open Knowledge Foundation: Open Data Means Better Science.” PLOS Biology Dec. 2011. Web. 24 Sept. 2012. Web.

Science Council. “What is Science?” Web. Retrieved June 16, 2013 from http://www.sciencecouncil.org/definition

Willinsky, John. “The unacknowledged convergence of open source, open access, and open science.” First Monday 10.8-1 (2005). Web.

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6 thoughts on “open science

  1. Pingback: open science: open data | minimum in cursive

  2. Pingback: closed science | minimum in cursive

  3. Pingback: open science: open research | minimum in cursive

  4. Pingback: open science: open platform | minimum in cursive

  5. Pingback: open science, closed science: a continuum | minimum in cursive

  6. Pingback: open science: open access | minimum in cursive

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