Open Science Particpation Incentive

09 Apr
Published by IanTaylor


general open research

I've been following and participating in the Open Science community for a while now. It's ironic, but I suffer from the same tendencies that Ginger ( founder) mentions in the most recent discussion "If you build it will they come". I too have emailed with praise of her efforts, but did not post. I'm not nearly as accomplished a scientist as some of the participants here, but do realize every effort counts. However, still I did not post. So this is my first post with some my observations about Open Science.

A recurring theme about OS mentioned in the above discussion, is incentive. -What's my incentive if I participate?- I think problem solving bioforums are very popular because they require passive participation and are quite useful. Quick problem, quick solution. As we move from simple forums into OS it takes a more concerted effort per post or project. I think there needs to be more incentive. Right now publishing is a major factor drivinglife science research and its still not clear whether or not an OS project can be published. So, whatare the incentives if the cost/reward is relatively high?

Also, if you look at Open Source software,you find a 'base platform' to work with or around. Linux or Firefoxare always good examples. There is a base platform that talented hobbyists can develop peripherals around without reinventing the wheel. The Open Scienceexperimentation currently requires all new platforms or projects, and that's a difficult challenge to overcome. The difficulty may be ongoing with each new project when a new 'base' of information is required. Participation may be a simple solution here. -more people involved to develop cohesive experiments, might speed discovery- at least that's the hope.

Ian Taylor

Vasus Scientific
Tech Dev Open Science


jcbradley's picture

I think the motivation for doing open science will change over time. Right now open science is its own reward. The more I see the search terms people are using to find our research work the more I become convinced that we are doing a good and useful thing. There are a few people out there who have the motivation but face other barriers - I am thinking here of people like Bora Zivkovic and Bill Hooker.
But over time, it may well be that mainstream researchers will get annoyed with getting scooped by Open Notebook Scientists and start to publish their findings in real time out of necessity.

You're right and I hope to see more scientists see the utility and take their research online.I've heard the argument,that research is published in closed journalsbecause that's how its done in science. It would be great if that becamethe case with Open Notebook Science.

I also agree that it will be a matter of time before open science begins to be an alternative to traditional scientific publishing. But, I hope efforts encouragerefinement and acceptanceof each style .

I think forums are a great example of how science is evolving toward an open platform. Here's apost,I found just today, thatexplores more detail andappears, to me,more like an open sciencepost rather than a quick forum Q and A:

My following summary might be confusing without reading the post, but bear with me as I dissect the details. Basically, she presentsunexpected results, her expected outcome, with detailed experimental methods andbackground. (I added some suggestions, but it may not help) Anyway, this to me represents a bridge, howeverunwittingly,builtto open science.

My belief is that more data, detailed protocols and higher levels of interaction can drive greater results and hone the efficiency of research projects before a pipette is ever picked up. And whether good or bad the results are the results. But it gets back to motivation. It may be as simple as the example above - you have a problem and someone else has the solution. But, entire experiments require investment (time and money), sometime into areas of unknown risk. Then the motivation might have to be a little more tangible. I hope that our Tech Dev Open Science Project (while including topics presented at the Synaptic Leap) can provide tangible benefits and at the same time bridge the gap between virtual discussion and actual experiments... but that's for another post.

Ian Taylor
Vasus Scientific

jcbradley's picture

That post is a really good example of carrying the scientific discussion to a higher level of openness. And I wish it were my area of expertise so that I could contribute. But I think a lot more could be done if it were taken to an even higher level by providing access to all of the raw data. At least that is what I have found in organic chemistry. Often researchers get stuck because of mistakes or misinterpretations of the primary data and it really helps a lot for another person to re-interpret and step through the analysis with as few assumptions as possible. That a big reason why I'm pushing Open Notebook Science.

steelgraham's picture

To Jean-Claude,

Interested to note that you mention Bora Zivkovic (aka Coturnix) and Bill Hooker. Whilst I never heard back fom Bill, I'm in fairly regular contact with Bora.

I've already suggested to Matt and Ginger that they (or anyone else) may want to consider contacting Bora as as far as I know, he may not know about the Synaptic Leap.

"But over time, it may well be that mainstream researchers will get
annoyed with getting scooped by Open Notebook Scientists and start to
publish their findings in real time out of necessity."

Yes, I agree with you. The quest remains to get more people actually doing Open Science research via platforms like Synaptic Leap.