Open Source Research

From P2P Foundation
Jump to navigation Jump to search

"Researchers world wide are lowering the barriers to collaboration and communication. Not only is software being "open sourced" but so is hardware and scientific research itself. Many researchers are going beyond passively being open; they are actively seeking participation and creating communities to refine the research." ( )


This entry is largely based on the following overview article.

Open Source Research - A Quiet Revolution. By Owens Densmore.



Open Scientific Papers

" Scientific papers, generally published in professional or academic journals, are the keystone for research. In the 1980s, many papers started to be made available in electronic form, generally formatted as text (ASCII), PostScript, or later PDF (Portable Document Format) and Word (doc). Although some of these formats were initially proprietary, all have since become standard and available from multiple vendors. This may be the single most important component of open source research-the easy and free availability of research papers in standard formats.

Initially these papers were exchanged among colleagues via email and FTP. Later, as the Web emerged, individuals and then institutions began creating sites, collecting their papers in standard formats. Generally these are made freely available to the public, although a few do still persist in requiring either subscriptions or institutional affiliation. However, even these are beginning to become available via public library interlibrary loan, or at worst, making individual papers available for a fee.

Perhaps the most impressive collection today is the CiteSeer Scientific Literature Digital Library index. This is a very large collection of scientific literature with complete citation linkage among the papers. This linkage is managed by Autonomous Citation Indexing (ACI), which also automatically generates the paper in several formats: PostScript and PDF being the most used. Well over 100,000 documents are included in the index. Steve Lawrence also provides convincing evidence of the increasing access to well-indexed, freely available research papers in his book Online or Invisible.

A similarly ambitious index is the arXiv archive, which evolved from the former site. It is a fully automated electronic archive for research papers within physics, mathematics, nonlinear sciences, computational linguistics, and neuroscience.

The Directory of Open Access Journals is more directly focused on freely available journals. There are now 1,149 journals in the Directory, with 314 journals searchable at the article level. Currently 55,343 articles are included in the service. This is a broader index than CiteSeer, covering many nonscientific disciplines.

An interesting related phenomenon is the emergence of online journals. An example in the complexity science field is the Journal of Artificial Societies and Social Simulation. This is a quarterly, Web-only, peer-reviewed journal in its seventh year focused on articles discussing Agent Based Modeling." ( )


CiteSeer Scientific Literature Digital Library index.

Cornell University arXiv e-Print archive. See also

Directory of Open Access Journals.

Open Scientific Books

"A surprising number of books are beginning to be freely available in electronic form. All of Stephen Wolfram's A New Kind of Science has recently become available online, although requiring free registration. The book is already an amazingly encyclopedic work, but the online version actually augments each page with additional material. It also enhances the book by providing a full search facility. Finally, by making the thousands of images within the book available, researchers can exchange notes on specific parts of the books along with supporting images.

A very popular undergraduate text, Introduction to Probability by Grinstead and Snell, has similarly become available online. They also provide considerable additional material and a complete set of programs are made available in four formats: Mathematica, Maple, Basic, and Java Applets. In addition, the answers to the odd-numbered problems are available, and instructors can get the even ones with an email to the authors. It's striking to read their discussion about how the GNU version of the book will improve over the existing paper version, and about their gratitude to the American Mathematical Society, publisher of the paper version.

Perhaps the most respected introduction to computer science is Abelson and Sussman's Structure and Interpretation of Computer Programs. It also is freely available in electronic form. In this case, the electronic version evolves the book into an entire course. For self study, the book's website[28] includes sample programming assignments, all the source code used in the book, and assistance in obtaining Scheme, the language used by the book." (


Wolfram, Stephen. A New Kind of Science (Champaign, IL: Wolfram Media, 2002).


Grimstead, Charles and J. Laurie Snell. Introduction to Probability, 2nd. rev. ed. (Providence, RI: American Mathematical Society, 1997);


Abelson, Harold, Gerald Jay Sussman,.and Julie Sussman. Structure and Interpretation of Computer Programs,2nd ed. (Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press, 1996).


McKay, David J. C. Information Theory, Inference and Learning Algorithms (Cambridge, U.K.: Cambridge University Press, 2003).