Open Science, what is your message?

22 Jun

It recently occured to me that maybe Open Science could be marketed more efficiently by simplyfying its messages and better targeting. I often find it difficult to convince scientists to support the idea, because Open Science idea does not seem to solve their problems. Western scientists have the main problem: not enough money – the rest are just details (I will be happy to be proven wrong, but I constantly notice that majority of scientists will happily play in the current academic system as long there’s enough money for their research). How about having the main message of OS movement along the lines of “Open Science = Cheaper Less Expensive Science”  (that’s something that Jean-Claude and Cameron say for some time)? I know that we don’t have enough evidence to say so, but on the other hand nobody seems to care that there are better measurements of scientific productivity than impact factor (and have some evidence for that).

Simple message – but also better targeting

Such message is not going to resonate at places that have much more significant problems than lack of money. To me, there are several places in the world that suffer from other issue – isolation. Thomas Erren in his short commentary on Phil’s Bourne “Ten simple rule for getting published” cites Rosalyn Yalow, a Nobel prize laureate:

… I am in full sympathy with rejecting papers from unknown authors working in unknown institutions. How does one know that the data are not fabricated? … on the average, the work of established investigators in good institutions is more likely to have had prior review from competent peers and associates even before reaching the journal.

And it’s just only one side of isolation – there are many more. So, maybe in such places the message of OS should be along the lines of “Open Science = Connected Science” (following one of Deepak’s blog themes), explaining that openness creates connection through which knowledge, experience and recognition can flow both ways?


Posted by on June 22, 2009 in bioinformatics


4 responses to “Open Science, what is your message?

  1. Daniel Mietchen

    June 22, 2009 at 16:11

    I agree and have put it quite similarly in here: “Given that a rating system implemented in our public research environment would almost certainly be less expensive than classical committee-based peer review of grant proposals (most online platforms can be used at no or low cost, no travel costs are incurred by the process, and all the effort spent on reviewing — currently often lost to society, particularly if a manuscript or proposal is rejected — could be used immediately by anyone), the new system would represent an improvement with respect to the current one, even if neither the quality of the research, nor the speed of communicating the results were affected. But both are bound to improve in the new system, leaving more money in the research funding system that can actually be spent on research than this is currently the case.”

  2. Daniel Mietchen

    June 22, 2009 at 16:16

    Although we should be aware that “cheaper science” has negative connotations, so we should perhaps express this concept with different words, stressing the “connected” aspect also in the West: after all, the web does not only connect across nations but also across disciplines, age groups and economic sectors much more than traditional means of science communication.

  3. bill

    June 23, 2009 at 06:21

    I particularly like the emphasis on the way that Open Science can break down artificial barriers to participation like the ones Yalow apparently favours.

    Data are data, whether they were produced by a Nobel Laureate or some kid in a garage somewhere — Ivory Tower assholes can exclude *people* for stupid reasons but they ignore actual *data* at their peril.

  4. Pawel Szczesny

    June 24, 2009 at 14:25

    Daniel, thanks. I wouldn’t put it better than you did :). And I’ve corrected “cheaper”.

    Thanks Bill – too bad people still follow Yalow’s advice.

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