Open Science

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From the Wikipedia:

"Open science is the movement to make scientific research, data and dissemination accessible to all levels of an inquiring society, amateur or professional. It encompasses practices such as publishing open research, campaigning for open access, encouraging scientists to practice open notebook science, and generally making it easier to publish and communicate scientific knowledge. The European-funded project Facilitate Open Science Training for European Research (FOSTER)[2] has developed an open science taxonomy[3] as an attempt to map the open science field.

Open science began in the 17th century with the advent of the academic journal, when the societal demand for access to scientific knowledge reached a point where it became necessary for groups of scientists to share resources with each other so that they could collectively do their work. In modern times there is debate about the extent to which scientific information should be shared. The conflict is between the desire of scientists to have access to shared resources versus the desire of individual entities to profit when other entities partake of their resources." (


Proposed by Dan Gezelter:

  • Transparency in experimental methodology, observation, and collection of data.
  • Public availability and reusability of scientific data.
  • Public accessibility and transparency of scientific communication.
  • Using web-based tools to facilitate scientific collaboration.



Overview of definitions at 1. Stephen Maurer [1]

"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."

How Open Science differs from Open Source: extra difficulties for Open Science models

From Mitchell at

"1. A lot of scientific effort is expensive. It’s hard to work in many areas without being tied to an institution that provides the equipment, the labs and other necessary support. This greatly reduces an individual’s ability to break out of the standard way of doing things.

2. A lot of scientific efforts require long periods of outlays before getting meaningful results – it’s harder to find incremental projects that can demonstrate value (whether economic or social) quickly.

3. It’s much more difficult to “scratch one’s own itch. “ Someone choosing to work in many scientific fields is unlikely to be solving his or her own immediate problem. The result may be years away, unknown, and not directly applicable to his or her own life. This is quite different from software development, where many people get involved to fix something that is bugging their daily experiences.

4. There’s no accepted set of free and unencumbered tools and building block for the life sciences. This problem was raised by Richard Jefferson of, who notes that the technologies used to pursue the scientific process are encumbered by patents in such a way that the end result is hard (or impossible) to use and share freely. It’s as if a patent on a compiler (or all compilers) applied to any code that had been compiled. Richard's pithy summation of this problem is: “there’s no LAMP stack.” (Thanks to Richard for permission to attribute this to him, which is required under the Chatham House Rule under which SciFoo operated.)

5. There’s already a recognition system in place through the peer-reviewed journals. This mechanism has a variety of problems itself and may be due for change. But even so, there is an accepted review, recognition and advancement system for the sciences outside of collaboration.

6. Collaboration often needs to occur between institutions rather than individuals. This makes it harder to get started than simply having a few people decide to try something." (

Prospects for Open Science

From Mitchell at

"Given the issues with "open science" how might progress towards openness be made?

1. It's unlikely that those with a big financial stake in the current arrangements will change. This obviously includes the commercial ventures aiming for large returns on their investment. It probably also includes the major research and development institutions who may not be public companies but who are deeply involved in the current system. If you're an academic institution and you've spent millions of dollars outfitting labs and have a set of people working and studying at your institution assuming the research and its results will be treated a certain way, it's hard to make big changes. So even if one takes the position that these organizations should change (which I'm not necessarily advocating) I think it's unlikely that leadership toward Open Science will come from here.

2. It's more realistic to expect change around the edges than at the very center of the system. Periodically I read about diseases that could probably be treated, but exist mostly in impoverished areas. So there's very little economic reward for the necessary research, development and deployment. I could imagine organizations concerned with alleviating these diseases to be more inclined to find ways to collaborate, particularly if relevant patents have expired.

3. There is usually a hierarchy of research organizations and universities; the "top tier" schools are more able to get research funds and to capitalize on the results of their work. But, there are massive numbers of very smart and very motivated people at other organizations. It may be that collaborative scientific techniques will develop at unanticipated places that aren't well positioned in the current system.

4. It may be that successful Open Science doesn't start at the central, biggest problems. It may grow by solving pieces of problems. Free compilers existed before the complete GNU Linux operating system; the same incremental change may occur with Open Science. Sadly, many of the big problems are the health topics where people's lives are at stake.

5. The realm known as "Citizen Science" may well lead the way. Citizen Science is based on large numbers of people working together. Since those participants aren't expected to have scientific training, there are a whole set of problems that can't even be approached through this method. But we may be surprised at the areas where Citizen Science can move our understanding forward." (

Conditions for Open Science

What are the biggest challenges to making open science work? If you had to lay out a 3-point agenda for the next five years, what would the action items be?

Rufus Pollock:

"I think that, like with nearly everything else, the social and cultural challenges may be the biggest hurdle. One aspect of making it work is ensuring that more people understand exactly what they can gain from sharing. I think it’s like a snowball: you might not get much back, initially, from sharing, but over time, you’d be able to see your data sets plugged in with other data sets, and your peers doing the same thing. The results might encourage you to share more.

As for a 3-point agenda:

1.) Open access is very important. In particular, I’d like to see the funders of science mandate not just open access to publications but also, as part of the process, open access to the data. They are paying for the research, so they can provide the incentive to make the results open. Moreover, it should be easier to get open access to the data; you wouldn’t necessarily have the same kind of struggle with publishers.

2.) I think we need more evangelism/advocacy for open science. We’re seeing big shifts in the way we do science, but we’re still on the cusp of a movement to bring open approaches together in a common infrastructure.

3.) We need to make it easier for people to share and manage large data sets. Open science is already working in some respects; is an extraordinary resource, for instance, but we need a better infrastructure for handling the data itself. I also think that many people are put off sharing because they think they don’t know how to manage data. That causes people to hesitate or give up completely. We need to make the process smoother. Sharing your data should be as frictionless as possible." (

Status Update on Open Science

As of 2013: " In general, it seems to us that there is currently much more organizational activity on the “building tools and platforms” front than on the “changing incentives and advocating for better practices” front. This can be seen by comparing the “Advocacy” groups in our landscape spreadsheet to the other groups, as well as through the preceding two paragraphs, though the relative youth of the Moore and Arnold Foundations in this space is a source of significant uncertainty in that view. Another possibility is that much of the work being done to change incentives and improve practices happens at the disciplinary or journal level in ways that aren’t caught by the interview process that we conducted." (

Status Report 2008

Rufus Pollock:

"What do you see as the most important development in open science over the last year?

Without question, the progress we’re making with data licensing. We have the Science Commons Protocol for Implementing Open Access Data, which conforms to the Open Knowledge Definition, and the very first open data licenses that comply with the protocol: the Open Data Commons Public Domain Dedication and License (ODC-PDDL) and the CC0 public domain waiver. We now need to encourage people to start using these waivers — or any other open license that complies." (

Open Science Services

There are a number of services that can assist independent scholars and researchers to fund, rent lab services, get their research reviewed, and papers published. You can publish on []] or [ResearchGate]]. [ScienceExchange]] you can rent lab equipment. It's like Kickstarter for science. And lastly, with [Experiment]] you can get crowdfunding.

More Information

  1. A three part introduction to open science practices: 1) Open access for scholarly publishing; 2)Defining Open Science; 3) Current applications of Science 2.0.
  2. The Rio Framework for Open Science, maintained by iCommons
  3. Open Data ; Open Notebook Science
  4. Open Standards

Specific open science approaches:

  1. Open Archeology
  2. Open Biology ; Open Source Biology
  3. Open Chemistry