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Open science: change is coming…

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In a very optimistic article, the New York Times reports some great milestones. Initiatives to make the scientific and medical research process more collaborative are gaining traction, as advocates of “open science” are launching open-access publications and social networking websites for researchers.

Some extracts:

advocates for “open science” say science can accomplish much more, much faster, in an environment of friction-free collaboration over the Internet. And despite a host of obstacles, including the skepticism of many established scientists, their ideas are gaining traction”

Some good stories are:

  • Public Library of Science (PLoS)
  •  ResearchGate — where scientists can answer one another’s questions, share papers and find collaborators — is rapidly gaining popularity. Its membership has mushroomed to more than 1.3 million. The Web site is a sort of mash-up of Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn, with profile pages, comments, groups, job listings, and “like” and “follow” buttons. Only scientists are invited to pose and answer questions.Scientists populate their ResearchGate profiles with their real names, professional details and publications — data that the site uses to suggest connections with other members. Users can create public or private discussion groups, and share papers and lecture materials. ResearchGate is also developing a “reputation score” to reward members for online contributions. ResearchGate offers a simple yet effective end run around restrictive journal access with its “self-archiving repository.” Since most journals allow scientists to link to their submitted papers on their own Web sites, Dr. Madisch encourages his users to do so on their ResearchGate profiles. In addition to housing 350,000 papers (and counting), the platform provides a way to search 40 million abstracts and papers from other science databases. In 2011, ResearchGate reports, 1,620,849 connections were made, 12,342 questions answered and 842,179 publications shared
  •  ScienceOnline conference will have its sixth edition this year
Anyway, these advocates agreed that scientists have been “very inhibited and slow to adopt a lot of online tools.”
Hanging the status quo — opening data, papers, research ideas and partial solutions to anyone and everyone — is still far more idea than reality. Especially because Publishers have to defend their traditionnal business model: “They have shareholders, (…)They have to move the ship slowly.”
“Will the model of science magazines be the same 10 years from now? I highly doubt it,  I believe in evolution“, a publisher says.
Dr. Madisch, of ResearchGate, acknowledged that he might never reach many of the established scientists for whom social networking can seem like a foreign language or a waste of time. But wait, he said, until younger scientists weaned on social media and open-source collaboration start running their own labs.
We’re just at the beginning. The change is coming.”
Lin, Thomas. Cracking Open the Scientific Process. The New York Times, Posted on 17th of January 2012.

http://www.nytimes.com/2012/01/17/science/open-science-challenges-journal-tradition-with-web-collaboration.html?pagewanted=1&_r=1

Written by hbasset

January 17, 2012 at 8:53 pm

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