Open science: a closed case?

Before even thinking about how open science may alter our world, I think it’s important to grasp what science and science publishing as a medium really are. Kelly in his article suggests that science is the “complex apparatus for determining the factual correctness of information and relating it to old knowledge” (Kelly 2010), while Wilbanks (2011) purports that science publishing is the “core factory for knowledge transfer in the world” and the “philosophical transactions of knowledge” – and as we university students can attest, “scientia potentia est” (knowledge is power).

In this sense then it’s quite obvious why Pisani (2011) believes that sharing data and scientific knowledge from one scientist to another – or what is commonly called ‘open science’ – could be beneficial to the medical science industry and in turn, the general public’s health at large, yet feels uncomfortable doing so. She argues that with the added exposure, the pace of discovery, diagnostics and cures will inevitably quicken – a seemingly logical fact – but given the competitive nature of science publishing where one’s career prospects are based on and manifest through the culture of data-hoarding, the idea of sharing can be “scary”.

The very same problem is outlined by Michael Nielsen, an Australian physicist and champion for open science. “We can build tools that amplify our collective intelligence”, which could bring a fundamental “change in the way we construct knowledge itself”, yet “there is a kind of conservatism about it”.

Kelly (2010) posits that “the achievement of science is to discover new things; the evolution of science is to organise the discoveries in new ways”. Open-access forms of new media are generous in the way that they will allow scientists today to do both the discovering and the organisation; discovery through gaining access to an unprecedented amount of data open for collaborative interpretation with other likeminded scientists around the world (perhaps similar in scope to the Polymath Project which Nielsen mentions above), but also organisation through the increased channels through which science community can publish and release their findings to the world.

I don’t think that the topic of open science will directly correlate to my research topic of the transversal nature of Twitter and its impacts on child rights advocacy campaigns, however one thing I can say for sure is that I doubt that the topic of open science is going to be a closed case anytime soon.

References

Kelly, K. 2010, ‘Evolving the Scientific Method’, The Scientist, December 1, accessed 14 May 2013, <http://www.the-scientist.com/?articles.view/articleNo/29382/title/Evolving-the-Scientific-Method>

Nielsen, M. 2011, ‘Open Science’, TEDxWaterloo, April 6, viewed 14 May 2013, <http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DnWocYKqvhw>

Pisani, E. 2011, ‘Medical science will benefit from the research of crowds’, The Guardian, January 11, <http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2011/jan/11/medical-research-data-sharing>

Wilbanks, J. 2011, ‘On Science Publishing’, Seed, January 29, accessed 14 May 2013, <http://seedmagazine.com/content/article/on_science_publishing>

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