Open Science

Bill Hooker has written a most impressive post on Open Science – I give some flavour of it but you should really read it for yourself. Combined with his Part 1 (on Open Access) this is a resource full of links, references and comments

The Future of Science is Open, Part 2: Open ScienceIn Part 1 of this essay, I gave an outline of the scholarly publishing practice/philosophy known as Open Access; here I want to examine ways in which the central concept of OA, the “open” part, is being expanded to encompass all of science.
Though I am adopting the term “Open Science”, there are an number of similar and related terms and no clear overriding consensus as to which should prevail. This year’s iCommons Summit saw the conception and initiation of the Rio Framework for Open Science. Hosted on the iCommons wiki, the Framework is presently an outline consisting mainly of a useful collection of links and does not offer a formal definition. In a 2003 essay, Stephen Maurer noted that:

Open science is variously defined, but tends to connote (a) full, frank, and timely publication of results, (b) absence of intellectual property restrictions, and (c) radically increased pre- and post-publication transparency of data, activities, and deliberations within research groups.

Jamais Cascio and WorldChanging have been talking about open source science, making a direct analogy to open source software, for some time. Chemists Without Borders follow Cascio’s definition in their position statement:

Research already in progress is opened up to allow labs anywhere in the world to contribute experiments. The deeply networked nature of modern laboratories, and the brief down-time that all labs have between projects, make this concept quite feasible. Moreover, such distributed-collaborative research spreads new ideas and discoveries even faster, ultimately accelerating the scientific process.

Richard Jefferson, founder and CEO of CAMBIA, uses the term BiOS (either “Biological Innovation for Open Society” or “Biological Open Source”), and the Intentional Biology group at The Molecular Biosciences Institute talks about Open Source Biology. Peter Murray-Rust has recently put together a Wikipedia page on Open Data; he writes:

Open Data is a philosophy and practice requiring that certain data are freely available to everyone, without restrictions from copyright, patents or other mechanisms of control.

Though Science Commons, which grew out of Creative Commons, doesn’t use the term “Open Data”, they have a “data project” and the concept is clearly central to their efforts. Best and most open of all (in my opinion), Jean-Claude Bradley has coined the term Open Notebook Science, by which he means:

…there [exists] a URL to a laboratory notebook (like this) that is freely available and indexed on common search engines. It does not necessarily have to look like a paper notebook but it is essential that all of the information available to the researchers to make their conclusions is equally available to the rest of the world. Basically, no insider information.

[and his further links include the Blue Obelisk and related activities]

I’ll just comment here that Open Data/Science/Notebook/Knowledge… need much greater exposure. Definition is important because then we know what we are talking about and can use a shorthand. Thus “Open Source Software” now needs no further explanation while Open Science (or the others) is not yet clear.
I hope to tie these up with the Digital Curation Meeting, but I’ve been busy wrestling with my code. It’s really fought me for days. Coding is one of those activities which can be maniacal or monomaniac – once started you often have to finish. I think I’ve cracked it, but the Unit tests will decide.

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One Response to Open Science

  1. Bill says:

    Thanks for the link!
    Is this the meeting you mean? I just downloaded your slides; how I love the internets! I wonder whether Google would be interested in extending Google Scholar to Google Data? That way authors could at least self-archive data before there are even Data Repositories available… or could current IRs accomodate data?
    Come to think of it, I’ve been tagging/labeling folders “oa/os” for “open access/open science”, which is what I’ve been calling the whole field in my head. I wonder whether Open Access/Open Data would do for a “brand”? Given that Source, Licensing and Standards are enablers of Access and Data, OA/OD is really the essence of Open Science.

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