Toward a More Open Scientific Culture
Posted on November 9, 2008 Comments (4)
Michael Nielsen wrote a great post, The Future of Science, which is also the topic of a book he is writing. He discusses how scientific advancement has often been delayed as those making discoveries did not share them openly. And how 300 years ago scientific journals and reward systems created ways for scientists to be rewarded for publication. And he continues with the need for the process to again change and promote more open sharing of scientific knowledge, which I agree with and have written about previously: Publishers Continue to Fight Open Access to Science, Science Journal Publishers Stay Stupid, The Future of Scholarly Publication, etc..
This cultural transition was just beginning in the time of Hooke and Newton, but a little over a century later the great physicist Michael Faraday could advise a younger colleague to “Work. Finish. Publish.” The culture of science had changed so that a discovery not published in a scientific journal was not truly complete. Today, when a scientist applies for a job, the most important part of the application is their published scientific papers.
This has been a great advance. Now we need to continue that advance to use the internet to make that publication open and increase the advantage of shared knowledge to society.
This means: making many more types of content available than just scientific papers; allowing creative reuse and modification of existing work through more open licensing and community norms; making all information not just human readable but also machine readable; providing open APIs to enable the building of additional services on top of the scientific literature, and possibly even multiple layers of increasingly powerful services. Such extreme openness is the ultimate expression of the idea that others may build upon and extend the work of individual scientists in ways they themselves would never have conceived.
To create an open scientific culture that embraces new online tools, two challenging tasks must be achieved: (1) build superb online tools; and (2) cause the cultural changes necessary for those tools to be accepted.
I agree we need to take advantage of the new possibilities to advance the practice of science. His full post is well worth reading.
Related: Open Source: The Scientific Model Applied to Programming – The Future of Science is Open by Bill Hooker – Dinosaurs Fight Against Open Science – Open Access Journal Wars – I Support the Public Library of Science – Does the Data Deluge Make the Scientific Method Obsolete?