Beta

Slashdot: News for Nerds

×

Welcome to the Slashdot Beta site -- learn more here. Use the link in the footer or click here to return to the Classic version of Slashdot.

Thank you!

Before you choose to head back to the Classic look of the site, we'd appreciate it if you share your thoughts on the Beta; your feedback is what drives our ongoing development.

Beta is different and we value you taking the time to try it out. Please take a look at the changes we've made in Beta and  learn more about it. Thanks for reading, and for making the site better!

A New Kind of Science Collaboration

kdawson posted more than 6 years ago | from the science-two-point-oh dept.

The Internet 96

Scientific American is running a major article on Science 2.0, or the use of Web 2.0 applications and techniques by scientists to collaborate and publish in new ways. "Under [the] radically transparent 'open notebook' approach, everything goes online: experimental protocols, successful outcomes, failed attempts, even discussions of papers being prepared for publication... The time stamps on every entry not only establish priority but allow anyone to track the contributions of every person, even in a large collaboration." One project profiled is MIT's OpenWetWare, launched in 2005. The wiki-based project now encompasses more than 6,100 Web pages edited by 3,000 registered users. Last year the NSF awarded OpenWetWare a 5-year grant to "transform the platform into a self-sustaining community independent of its current base at MIT... the grant will also support creation of a generic version of OpenWetWare that other research communities can use." The article also gives air time to Science 2.0 skeptics. "It's so antithetical to the way scientists are trained," one Duke University geneticist said, though he eventually became a convert.

cancel ×

96 comments

First post? (-1, Offtopic)

Black Sabbath (118110) | more than 6 years ago | (#23154566)

Can't resist...must..not...

oh bugger it.

FP!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Isn't it just.... (4, Interesting)

Fluffeh (1273756) | more than 6 years ago | (#23154576)

Like what the internet was originally developed for by those physics chaps - before all the advertisers found out they could make money off it?

It's almost like going back in time to the future to go back in time.

Re:Isn't it just.... (2, Insightful)

regularstranger (1074000) | more than 6 years ago | (#23154712)

You speak as if scientists stopped using the Internet when advertisers started using it. Have something against advertisers? I do, but I doubt that scientists' use of the internet was influenced much by the availability of advertisements and teenage myspace accounts.

They'll not use it if it exposes their fraud (-1, Flamebait)

mrmeval (662166) | more than 6 years ago | (#23155682)

I suspect the global warming fanatics will distance themselves from such openness. I suspect you will see a lot of the crap scientists refuse to be that exposed.

Re:Isn't it just.... (3, Informative)

mysticgoat (582871) | more than 6 years ago | (#23157146)

The initial direction of HTTP and the WWW was to promote freely available access to scientific papers.

Then something very unexpected and very strange happened. Elsevier and its ilk arose out of the brew. Now scientific papers are accessible only to those with institutions that can afford to pay the gatekeepers.

For want of an understanding of the denizens that lurk in markets, scientists have lost the way to realize their dream for the WWW.

It would appear that scientific training, with its emphasis on demonstrable truths, is of little benefit when dealing with adversaries that are comfortable with using smokes and mirrors as weapons.

Re:Isn't it just.... (1)

pimpimpim (811140) | more than 6 years ago | (#23163456)

Elsevier has been a publisher of scientific journals for a long long time, so you can hardly say that they arose in the Web. More likely, they were the first to notice any danger to their publication empire and took quick action.

Re:Isn't it just.... (1)

mysticgoat (582871) | more than 6 years ago | (#23164030)

Same difference. They moved from a company that made a reasonable profit publishing a few hardcopy journals to a company that functions as the gatekeeper to a much larger body of knowledge— where they really contribute very little any more, especially in comparison to their decreased costs. There are certainly less expensive ways to implement a referee model.

If you want to control scientific research, a good place to start would be to get a seat on the board of Elsevier.

My experience with this company is mostly from 1997 - 2001, when I controlled the subscriptions budget for a medical library. I did not much care for Elsevier's expansive and parasitic policies then. I have kept an eye on them since, the way you keep an eye on a rattlesnake that you have spotted in the corner of the room. What I have seen is that they have tightened their grip on distribution of knowledge, extended their reach into new fields, and increased their revenue streams.

My impression is that others in the textbook and research publishing business have either adopted Elsevier's behaviors or have been eaten up.

Re:Isn't it just.... (1)

pimpimpim (811140) | more than 6 years ago | (#23178066)

There were a bit late with their bibliography site ScienceDirect, though. Apart from that, it is actually quite scary that the bibliographic access (which is de facto the only access, the high stream of output makes it impossible to check by journal only) is in the hands of a few private companies (e.g. Thomson's Web of Knowledge). At some point there was a German initiative to do the same, but the effort needed was just too high. Now Thomson can more or less do what they want with their database, and scientists (and their librarians) can just hope that Thomson will stay reasonable, or else every single scientist in the whole world is in pretty deep shit. It should never have come to this depency :(

Share and share alike (4, Insightful)

NetSettler (460623) | more than 6 years ago | (#23154822)

Like what the internet was originally developed for by those physics chaps - before all the advertisers found out they could make money off it?

Precisely.

I assume the funding will also be equally shared among all the people documented to have contributed?

No, I didn't think so...

So much for Utopia.

The reason people withhold such information isn't that they are evil and trying to abuse their own work. It's that they know that others are happy to use up the value they've poured into the work and offer nothing in return.

As with free software and a lot of other such ideas, the problem isn't that this won't benefit a lot of people, the problem is that it's not looking out for the good people who have created the value. When the world is going out of its way to make sure researchers are well taken care of without the need for money, of course researchers will be happy to share this kind of thing without asking for recompense.

Making sure one has a way to pay one's own way in the world is not evil, it's pragmatically necessary and socially required. Charity is only possible when necessity is taken care of.

Re:Share and share alike (3, Interesting)

Ihmhi (1206036) | more than 6 years ago | (#23155116)

Well, wouldn't the information on a scientific wiki/collaboration be covered under a GPL? That would prevent someone from using your contributions for profit.

Thorough analysis of a page can clearly show who did what. A scientist may have made only one edit, but that edit may have been the missing component of a crucial piece of research. The records would clearly show this (as anyone who has ever checked through the backlogs of a wiki article can attest to.)

I concur with you the hard sell: scientists would, in effect, be giving up many things they love: credit, funding (which, for many scientists, is their livelihood), awards nominations, etc.

After all, only three people can be nominated for a Nobel Prize, not three hundred.

Re:Share and share alike (4, Interesting)

NetSettler (460623) | more than 6 years ago | (#23155422)

Well, wouldn't the information on a scientific wiki/collaboration be covered under a GPL? That would prevent someone from using your contributions for profit.

Copyright protects the form of an expression, not the content of the expression. You can't copyright an idea or a fact. You can only copyright the words you used to express it.

If you have a brilliant idea, patenting can get you some rights, but patenting rewards the first to submit an application. You could propose that the global science/wiki-thing should be the patent office, and propose that the first to edit an idea in would always get the money. But the next day the wiki would be full of random junk put there by speculators, and you'd be sued for removing a single word of it. So since it wouldn't work for this to be the patent office, you'd either still have the patent office (and someone watching for edits would be submitting patent applications) or else you'd have to get rid of patents as an obsolete thing--eliminating another source of funding.

By the way, I absolutely don't believe the goal should be to keep people from profiting. I'm totally for the idea of profit. I just think that the people who contribute the work must be among those who profit!

Even if copyright would work for this, the GPL is a terrible model. In practice, you're forbidden from charging if you built your work on anyone else's--and it's just plain too administratively complicated to actually pay all those underlying people. So everyone throws up their hands and just gives it all away and that's that. I'm not saying it's impossible to make money under GPL, I'm just saying I doubt any claim that the contributors will be routinely well taken care of.

I don't want Scientists to have to have jobs as cooks, janitors, etc. just to earn a living wage. I want them to spend as much of their time doing what they do best, and I want us to reward them for it directly, not make them have to spend their free time (or even their full time) chasing money so they can squeeze in a little time doing Science if there's any time left at the end of chasing money.

Nor do I think it would be good for them to resort to "applied science" for their money. Science and its applications are different things. Basic research is not the same as product development, and the two should not be confused.

I don't even think it would be bad to have a few millionaire scientists. Money runs the world, and no amount of giving stuff away will fix that. The people who are a threat to Science have plenty of money; if Science doesn't find ways to enrich some of its own, it won't have the power to hold the forces of anti-Science at bay.

Thorough analysis of a page can clearly show who did what. A scientist may have made only one edit, but that edit may have been the missing component of a crucial piece of research. The records would clearly show this (as anyone who has ever checked through the backlogs of a wiki article can attest to).

True. But no one would care. Once the information was out, people would argue it wasn't valuable, or that it was obvious. Or that they were about to come out with the same thing. People pay for what is scarce, and the moment you publish something world-wide, it is not scarce.

I'm not saying I want scientific research to be scarce. I'm saying I want scientists not to be scarce. And asking them to give up any financial incentive for doing their work doesn't sound like a recipe for motivating people to contribute to science.

If you're imagining a promise up-front that you'd be paid if you just contributed something, even something "important", I'd like to see the wording of that promise before I'd bother to discuss it, because I doubt any such promise is forthcoming.

Re:Share and share alike (1)

neuromancer2701 (875843) | more than 6 years ago | (#23157202)

I think that is what has changed in "Science" over the last 50-70 years. It is a career now. Fund is tied to organizations that have specific goals. Giving away information or contradiction your Organization leaves you without a job.

Re:Share and share alike (2, Interesting)

Grishnakh (216268) | more than 6 years ago | (#23165324)

If you have a brilliant idea, patenting can get you some rights, but patenting rewards the first to submit an application. You could propose that the global science/wiki-thing should be the patent office, and propose that the first to edit an idea in would always get the money. But the next day the wiki would be full of random junk put there by speculators, and you'd be sued for removing a single word of it. So since it wouldn't work for this to be the patent office, you'd either still have the patent office (and someone watching for edits would be submitting patent applications) or else you'd have to get rid of patents as an obsolete thing--eliminating another source of funding.

I'm all for eliminating patents, but it's wrong to claim this would eliminate a source of funding for scientists. Scientists don't invent anything; they discover things. If any scientists have patents on anything, that's a failure of the patent system. Invention is the domain of engineers and other inventors. This doesn't mean that a scientist can't invent something, but it's tangential to his role as a scientist. As a engineer, I might stumble upon some new discovery (not likely in my particular field), but it's not my primary job. I might also write a great song, but that's certainly not part of my role as engineer either.

Even if copyright would work for this, the GPL is a terrible model. In practice, you're forbidden from charging if you built your work on anyone else's--and it's just plain too administratively complicated to actually pay all those underlying people. So everyone throws up their hands and just gives it all away and that's that. I'm not saying it's impossible to make money under GPL, I'm just saying I doubt any claim that the contributors will be routinely well taken care of.

I don't want Scientists to have to have jobs as cooks, janitors, etc. just to earn a living wage. I want them to spend as much of their time doing what they do best, and I want us to reward them for it directly, not make them have to spend their free time (or even their full time) chasing money so they can squeeze in a little time doing Science if there's any time left at the end of chasing money.

Nor do I think it would be good for them to resort to "applied science" for their money. Science and its applications are different things. Basic research is not the same as product development, and the two should not be confused.

I don't even think it would be bad to have a few millionaire scientists. Money runs the world, and no amount of giving stuff away will fix that. The people who are a threat to Science have plenty of money; if Science doesn't find ways to enrich some of its own, it won't have the power to hold the forces of anti-Science at bay.


This all sounds great, but it just doesn't seem to work that well in practice due to our capitalist profit-driven economic system.

Unfortunately, human behavior I think keeps science from advancing as far and as fast as it could under ideal circumstances. The way I see it, there's only three ways for science work to get done: 1) a scientist does it on his own for free (obviously this doesn't happen that much), 2) it's done by private industry, or 3) it's done by the government.

#2 works well for applied science, where the company has a certain goal in mind, but it doesn't work very well for basic research because it takes so long to realize any returns on it. Companies used to do more basic research, decades ago, but they don't any more, and I'm not a good enough historian to tell you why things have changed this way, though I think it has to do with the post-WWII economic boom in the USA and its consequential dominant status in the world economically and politically: big companies could afford the luxury of funding basic research because they didn't have much competition here, and absolutely none abroad. These days, there's a lot less resources, and a lot more people and countries fighting over them.

#3 works better for basic research, except that now research is tied to politics, which is anything but unbiased. Plus, in a democracy, the people don't like spending their tax money on stuff they don't think is essential, so they're constantly up in arms about things like the government-run space program despite its numerous economic benefits. In a non-democratic country, this isn't a problem, as we saw with the USSR where the government was extremely pro-science as their leaders were educated (unlike most commoners) and knew its benefit, though they certainly had their own goals in mind, but at least their view was much longer-term than private companies'. Unfortunately, non-democratic countries don't seem to work out that well in practice, as we also saw with the USSR.

One thing I wonder about is if "communist" China will become the new reigning superpower, because they seem to combine the best aspects of the old Stalinist communist system with the western free-market economic systems: the government is authoritarian, so its leaders can decide to fund any research or other projects they see fit, regardless of popular opinion, but the country's economy is in good shape because they've adopted a free-market system rather than the centralized system the Soviets used, which was a miserable failure. It seems like this may be the most successful way to run a country, since the leaders don't have to worry about pleasing the people, and as long as they don't become too corrupt, they can easily outperform western democracies. Unfortunately, this kind of system doesn't care at all about freedom, something we westerners value highly, so unless you're a good conformist, it's probably not too fun to live in such a country, but I'm afraid this is the way the world is going to go.

Re:Share and share alike (1)

gardyloo (512791) | more than 6 years ago | (#23156184)

After all, only three people can be nominated for a Nobel Prize, not three hundred.
Many hundreds (even thousands) per year can be nominated.

Re:Share and share alike (1)

mbaer (1099749) | more than 6 years ago | (#23156900)

Well, wouldn't the information on a scientific wiki/collaboration be covered under a GPL? That would prevent someone from using your contributions for profit.

No it wouldn't. The default state of things is that every contributor holds copyright, if copyright applies at all, to his contributions.

Plus, GPL type of licensing would actually be a very sensible strategy for a project, precisely because it facilitates derivative works as long as they are themselves published under the GPL. However, you wouldn't want to use GPL for such endeavour, you'd better go for a non-NC creative commons license, that is, one that explicitly permits profits to be made from the work by any third person.

As for credits - and this is no reply to your argument but a separate thought - I reckon that if credits were the only motivation for people to do stuff we'd still be in the stone age. Put differently (and I'm claiming credit for that meme ;-)) without uncompensated externalities you wouldn't have any progress whatsoever. Everything possible future value added to an artefact would be part of the initial contracts, and that would stifle just about everything.

Re:Share and share alike (1)

Hojima (1228978) | more than 6 years ago | (#23156634)

I know I sound like a communist, but science is one area where capitalism doesn't shine well. The thing is, the communism that people think about is just like any other dictatorship. If we had a democracy where government controls commerce, science projects would be more collaborative money wise (can you imagine all the particle accelerators built suddenly merged into one?) and people wise (that and the money wont go to some rich prick who will spend it on cars he never drives). It's sad that socialism and communism still have the stigma from the cold war, because people can slowly see capitalism start to loose its charm.

Re:Share and share alike (1)

PachmanP (881352) | more than 6 years ago | (#23160088)

can you imagine all the particle accelerators built suddenly merged into one?
Can you imagine how compromised into uselessness the one would be?

that and the money wont go to some rich prick who will spend it on cars he never drives
I would rather some rich prick get to not drive 10 farraris, so I can have the opportunity to drive a BMW instead of a yugo or whatever the "people's car" would be.

so yeah, go back to Soviet Russia where capitalism complains about you.

Re:Share and share alike (1)

mysticgoat (582871) | more than 6 years ago | (#23157382)

Parent post confuses those who do research with those who charge money for the results. When you spend several hundred dollars for a subscription to an online journal, most of the money goes to Elsevier or another "publisher". Very little goes to the researchers who wrote the papers. In fact, they may well be paying for the opportunity to let Elsevier make money off of their work. This has become the driving force behind the shape of today's refereed journals, but that shape is far different from what a refereed journal is intended to be.

It used not to be that way, before the internet. At that time, scientific journals were not seen as something anyone could make money from. Now they have become prey to marketeers who do not offer any benefits in exchange for sucking institutional funds away from research and education.

The international scientific community would do well to look itself over for leeching parasites and take appropriate action.

Re:Share and share alike (1)

Metasquares (555685) | more than 6 years ago | (#23157486)

None of it goes to the researchers, at least in any of the conferences and journals I've submitted to. I agree; it is high time to take the parasites out of the loop.

Re:Isn't it just.... (1)

Paul Slocum (598127) | more than 6 years ago | (#23155148)

Yes, the advancement of the Intergalactic Computer Network as described in 1963 [kurzweilai.net] by J.C.R. Licklider.

Credit (1, Informative)

tsa (15680) | more than 6 years ago | (#23154584)

No way I'm going to use that. Stealing data and claiming it to be yours is pretty common in the scientific world. I won't publish my data anywhere in any form but an article in a peer reviewed journal thank you. I worked hard to get my data and work out all the difficulties and I want the credit for it.

Re:Credit (5, Insightful)

regularstranger (1074000) | more than 6 years ago | (#23154640)

But you probably acquire quite a bit of data that doesn't get used for your peer-reviewed articles (maybe you got results that don't seem interesting). Would you consider putting that data on these websites so that other people could at least verify your "non-interesting" results, or know not to bother with the experiment? Even if you don't find a use for it, somebody somewhere might.

Re:Credit (3, Insightful)

LingNoi (1066278) | more than 6 years ago | (#23154706)

Sounds to me like the opposite is true, because everything is timestamped it's very easy to tell and claim that the work is yours.

Re:Credit (1)

anilg (961244) | more than 6 years ago | (#23156944)

Consider the discovery process as A->B->C->D->E->F as is published in a peer reviewed paper.

However, if the scientist is to publish A->B on a wiki, theres no stopping someone else stepping in and figuring out ->C->D. Whether this is better or not is debatable, but the point is scientist of the peer review paper is better off in terms of recognition.

Re:Credit (1)

Metasquares (555685) | more than 6 years ago | (#23157672)

I think the benefits to science itself outweigh the personal objections in this case. Attribution is important, but we shouldn't allow it to interfere with progress.

The quicker others find out C->D, the quicker they can find out D->E->F and get on to F->G. In other words, it would make science move faster.

That might be the death of the traditional scientific paper... but I think it would lead to a more effective system. What we would instead have are communities where individual authors post their ideas and experiments - essentially fragments of what currently constitutes an academic paper - and other people fill in other areas and draw connections. In a way, it would be much more direct: post your idea, post your experiments, post your results, and don't worry about having to write on topics you are not familiar with to flesh out the background/intro/conclusions. Perhaps, with the diminished need to protect our professional reputations, we would even begin writing in language that laypeople could understand. (It always amazes me that some scientists do not understand why laypeople can't read their papers and yet continue to couch them in bombastic language).

The experimental process itself is also a quite valuable detail that is almost always excluded from published papers. One scientist might have many failed attempts that can nevertheless provide insight to others - perhaps even moreso than the final successful approach.

Re:Credit (1)

anilg (961244) | more than 6 years ago | (#23157864)

Yes, I mentioned that whether or not this method is better is debatable. My reply was to the "Sounds to me like the opposite is true" comment.

Re:Credit (2, Interesting)

LingNoi (1066278) | more than 6 years ago | (#23161568)

What nonsense, they'd have to describe how they got to B in the first place at which point you could see that they've taken your work.

The "old" system is just as bad for theft anyway so it can't get any worse. You make it sound like the end of the world.

Re:Credit (5, Informative)

quanticle (843097) | more than 6 years ago | (#23154726)

That's exactly the sort of thing this new openness initiative is trying to prevent. Currently, while your paper is waiting in the publication queue, your data is at risk for being used without credit. If you confront the other person, it turns into a he-said, she-said dispute, as neither side has the evidence needed to prove plagiarism, rather than independent discovery. With an initiative like this, you can get your data and experimental procedure out there earlier in the process, making it much clearer that you were the first to discover or research in the area that you're working on.

I guess the best analogy I can make is the distinction between patents and trade secrets. With patents you publish early and notify the world that you're investigating a certain area. In return, the world recognizes that any other discoveries made in this area can be conceivably based of your original research and that you should be compensated. This is similar to putting up your experiments on the OpenWetWare site. You're announcing to everyone what you're working on, and potentially giving away your ideas, but, if you're the first, you can establish your primacy much more easily later on.

The traditional model of keeping research secret until publication is like the trade-secret model of intellectual property protection. You get a lot more control over who sees your data and experimental method, but, if someone unsavory makes off with said data, you have far fewer options for censuring them.

Re:Credit (3, Interesting)

Mathinker (909784) | more than 6 years ago | (#23155528)

Reality is a little more complex than that. Even though the following story doesn't match the scenario which you are talking about, where someone steals the current work of an active academic, I think it brings up other issues which you ignore.

I know of a case where a Russian mathematician published an original result in Russian but then left academia and his result got little publicity, except in Russia. Many years later, a German mathematician (who is known to be able to read Russian) "rediscovered" and republished the first mathematician's work without giving him credit (obviously, since the second mathematician really did not add anything of significance, and in fact, didn't even change the original notation much). The mathematical discovery in question has therefore become much more well-known in the mathematics world (since the second mathematician is in academia, so he is constantly lecturing about it in conferences, and such).

The first mathematician (disclaimer: I know him personally and heard the story from him) is of course very upset about all of this, but claims to actually have very little recourse, because he is no longer an academic, and therefore has practically zero political power in the academic circles involved. He still has a few friends here and there, and found out about the story from one of them.

Now from the point of view of kiddie good/evil, it's clear that the second mathematician has sided with the "dark side" (if we believe the first mathematician's opinion, that the second one is merely stealing his results). But from a different point of view, by stealing the first mathematician's work and publicizing it (as his own) he may be doing society a favor by enabling a possibly significant result to gain more recognition (i.e., that might be worth more to society than the damage caused to society by the second mathematician getting more grant money, etc., than he actually deserves).

Re:Credit (1)

quanticle (843097) | more than 6 years ago | (#23157122)

But from a different point of view, by stealing the first mathematician's work and publicizing it (as his own) he may be doing society a favor by enabling a possibly significant result to gain more recognition (i.e., that might be worth more to society than the damage caused to society by the second mathematician getting more grant money, etc., than he actually deserves).

I agree that there might be societal benefits from the second mathematician publicizing the work. However, this does not absolve him of the responsibility to acknowledge that the work is not his own, and to cite the first mathematician where appropriate. To do otherwise deprives the first mathematician of the recognition he deserves, and gives society an incorrect picture of the second mathematician's abilities.

Re:Credit (1)

Mathinker (909784) | more than 6 years ago | (#23160756)

This is the first time I try to post from "elinks" so please excuse any mishaps...

Firstly, I personally also agree that the second mathematician is not absolved from citing the first one even if society as a whole benefits from his transgression.

Secondly, I'd like to emphasize the other issue from my first post, which is that there is quite a bit of politics behind the supposedly objective scientific process. From another academic, I've heard stories of current biological research which didn't get published in a particular journal (with the best exposure, etc.), and the scientist involved claimed it was because the editor of that journal runs a lab which is "pushing" an opposing scientific viewpoint. This new forum for unreviewed results seems to be a way to try to counteract these types of abuses (especially if there would be several such forums run by different organizations).

Re:Credit (3, Insightful)

John Newman (444192) | more than 6 years ago | (#23155634)

hat's exactly the sort of thing this new openness initiative is trying to prevent. Currently, while your paper is waiting in the publication queue, your data is at risk for being used without credit. If you confront the other person, it turns into a he-said, she-said dispute, as neither side has the evidence needed to prove plagiarism, rather than independent discovery. With an initiative like this, you can get your data and experimental procedure out there earlier in the process, making it much clearer that you were the first to discover or research in the area that you're working on.
This sounds like a good way to get hosed out of any credit for developing an interesting idea. The way the process works now in biology is that you first have the flash of an unexpected result or an interesting insight. You then spend weeks to months hashing out the significance of this new idea and planning experiments to flesh it out. Those experiments then take months to years to complete. Somewhere in the middle of those months to years, you realize that the idea will work out, and that completing the line of inquiry will land you in a prominent journal or propel your career. You then spend further months to years actually getting the first chunk of data into a journal. (This for a successful idea - of course, the idea can fail at any juncture.)

Today, your risk of being scooped is mostly towards the end of this process, after the idea has cleared most doubt and after the experiments are sufficiently advanced for you to begin presenting the data at conferences and submitting it to journals. You can build up a two-three year head start in blood, sweat and tears (i.e. painfully worked out protocols and accumulated materials) that make it difficult for all but the largest labs to catch up, should they so desire.

In this transparent world, your idea would be out there from day #1. At the latest, from the first experiments. At that point you have no lead and no investment, and *anyone* can swoop in and develop your idea faster than you can. When it comes down to a race, he with the most postdocs wins, and that's not you. Sure, you can try to take credit for the flash of insight. But who is the community (and the tenure board) going to reward - the guy who claimed to think of it first (maybe everyone else had already thought of it, but deemed it too trivial to comment on...) or the guy who does the actual work to *prove* it? Under the current model you have few good recourses for complaint, but under this model you'll never have standing to complain in the first place.

The traditional model of lab-secret research is the worst possible model except all others that have been proposed. It's the only way for the "little guy with a big idea" to make way in the world without bringing research to a grinding halt with something like patents [shudder].

Re:Credit (1)

alshithead (981606) | more than 6 years ago | (#23154926)

""It's so antithetical to the way scientists are trained," one Duke University geneticist said, though he eventually became a convert."

"I won't publish my data anywhere in any form but an article in a peer reviewed journal thank you. I worked hard to get my data and work out all the difficulties and I want the credit for it."

Perhaps good examples how things are wrong. What great discovery is waiting on just some little tidbit of data being seen in a different light by someone other than the one who gathered it.

Re:Credit (2, Insightful)

cp.tar (871488) | more than 6 years ago | (#23155912)

""It's so antithetical to the way scientists are trained," one Duke University geneticist said, though he eventually became a convert." "I won't publish my data anywhere in any form but an article in a peer reviewed journal thank you. I worked hard to get my data and work out all the difficulties and I want the credit for it."

Intriguing.

I live and study in Croatia, where it is not that uncommon that a professor takes his student's work, puts his name on it and doesn't even credit the student for any work whatsoever. Publishing whatever you've done on the internet seems one of the easiest ways to defend against plagiarism, and some people actually do that.
Anyway, I think this is a great idea.

Re:Credit (1)

stranger_to_himself (1132241) | more than 6 years ago | (#23157082)

What great discovery is waiting on just some little tidbit of data being seen in a different light by someone other than the one who gathered it.

Probably many great discoveries are waiting here, but also many many false positives. Peer review is a way to try to increase the signal to noise ratio in the scientific world, which is low enough as it is. Take that away and you'll maybe get a bit more useful stuff coming through, but you'll never be able to find it amongst all the crap.

People complain at the moment about the conflicting messages coming out of science. When the media can get their hands on anything any student or scientist wants to put online, it's going to get far far worse. Hopefully the market will still demand an authoratative source of information, and scientists will still seek the recognition of a good quality publication, so the current model won't disappear entirely.

The only reason I would publish in a non peer reviewed way is if I think a particular piece of work is not of sufficient general interest.

Re:Credit (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23155808)

So, you wont present your data to any colleagues, or make any presentations in conferences? Not only will it reduce your publication chances, no-one will have heard of you when you do publish. Paranoia can only get you so far.

Re:Credit (1)

giorgist (1208992) | more than 6 years ago | (#23155840)

?! That is such a bad attitude ... Think library of Alexandria where anybody was allowed to come and study, but whatever document was brought inside was taken and copied, and a copy was given to the scholar. You will have credit for your work. Throughout your career you will either distinguish your self or you will fade but help others. G

Re:Credit (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23155928)

And therefore you don't publish your failures, even though I may be able to work them out for you, to the better of us both.

The sharing of failed attemts, bad models and fruitless persuits is a real nugget of gold in this project.

Re:Credit (1)

seasunset (469481) | more than 6 years ago | (#23157594)

No way I'm going to use that. Stealing data and claiming it to be yours is pretty common in the scientific world. I won't publish my data anywhere in any form but an article in a peer reviewed journal thank you. I worked hard to get my data and work out all the difficulties and I want the credit for it.
By "your data", you mean that all expenses of your research were covered by you? Including Salary/Stipend and Field/Lab work?

You see, if you have public funding, maybe the public should be aware that you are calling something payed with all our taxes as "yours".

Regards,
A PhD student funded with public money
PS - I know the this practice of appropriation of common goods is pervasive in science, I am not targeting you as an individual, but the majority science community which has the view of "my data, my property" and developed most of the work with public money.

Science 2.0? (2, Funny)

regularstranger (1074000) | more than 6 years ago | (#23154592)

I love the idea of sharing information in this manner, but do we really have to call it Science 2.0? People might think that Science 1.0 was buggy.

Needs Funding 2.0 to make it work (1, Insightful)

EmbeddedJanitor (597831) | more than 6 years ago | (#23154670)

Science has always had jealousy and competition for funding etc, but that is far more prevalent than it ever was. Most research establishments are funded by people with a vested interest. That prevents free thinking science. Can't publish stuff that might offend the funders. Can't do research that offends them.

Unless this funding model changes, the new openness will never happen.

Re:Needs Funding 2.0 to make it work (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23155244)


You should listen to this interview with Dr. Eugene Mallove. Then you'll really realize how free thinking in science has been blocked. It's SHOCKING!

http://www.youtube.com/view_play_list?p=33C82463A8CBFC88 [youtube.com]

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eugene_Mallove [wikipedia.org]

Re:Science 2.0? (2, Funny)

doppe1 (856394) | more than 6 years ago | (#23154806)

No, no. Science 1.0 was the development version, Science 2.0 is the buggy version. I'm waiting for at least Science 2.1.

None of us... (1)

rah1420 (234198) | more than 6 years ago | (#23154636)

... is as smart as all of us. I've seen it attributed to Vince Lombardi, an ancient Japanese proverb, and a few other sources but it's true.

I work for a Fortune 50 company that's doing the same kind of thing but writ large across the enterprise (not just in the science based portion of our business.)

It's in an embryonic state right now, and only time will tell if it works out - but the idea that resonated with me both with our knowledge sharing and with Science 2.0 was the idea that all of our collective expertise and knowledge can be brought to bear on a problem. If only we could rise above the competitiveness we could kick some serious ass in solving problems.

Ah well, it must be late. Time to stop dreaming of everyone singing "Kum Ba Yah." But maybe if a few more people read this... it might work...

Re:None of us... (2, Insightful)

PachmanP (881352) | more than 6 years ago | (#23161174)

None of us is as smart as all of us... And nothing is dumber than a crowd or more dangerous than a mob! Yay for platitudes!

Re:None of us... (1)

Grishnakh (216268) | more than 6 years ago | (#23165348)

You got that quote completely wrong. It's "None of us is as dumb as all of us." It's a good saying for a poster in a meeting room.

It's about time.. (2, Insightful)

gQuigs (913879) | more than 6 years ago | (#23154676)

that peer-reviewed didn't just mean those that buy into scientific journals.

Citizens have produced some great scientific discoveries with little (or self) training. They should be treated as peers in the review process.

Re:It's about time.. (1)

icebike (68054) | more than 6 years ago | (#23154846)

Citizens have produced some great scientific discoveries with little (or self) training. They should be treated as peers in the review process.
OMG, do you have ANY idea of the number of kooks and conspiracy nut jobs that would appear if these
forums were opened to all comers?

Re:It's about time.. (2, Informative)

evanbd (210358) | more than 6 years ago | (#23154864)

No, they shouldn't. That's not to say they have nothing to contribute; obviously they do.

If an untrained observer finds a mistake in the work, then that's useful. If an untrained observer fails to find any mistakes, that says nothing. If a suitably trained observer -- ie, one of the researcher's peers -- goes over the work and fails to find any mistakes, that can be taken as a decent indication that the work is of high quality.

Re:It's about time.. (1)

DrMaurer (64120) | more than 6 years ago | (#23157168)

Yeah, because a Sokal Hoax [wikipedia.org] could never happen in a en editorially reviewed journal...

Yes, I am an English Major, too. I don't buy into post******ist theory, though...

Re:It's about time.. (1)

evanbd (210358) | more than 6 years ago | (#23157650)

I think the Sokal Affair would be harder to duplicate in a field that was actually scientific, ie involving experiments and data. And if you did do it, you'd have to fake the data... and that's a big no-no. The assumption behind peer review is that the authors tend to be honest, but may make mistakes. If they're going to just plain lie, that doesn't usually get noticed until people try to replicate their results. Whether the Sokal Affair is the same thing ethically or not, it's clearly distinct in a practical sense. Of course, the journal in question wasn't peer reviewed, either.

Re:It's about time.. (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23155954)

That's not always going to be appropriate. Papers should be reviewed by people who have some understanding of the subject matter.
For example, unless you know about dynamical systems, optimisation, discontinuous ODEs, functional analysis and operator theory, you simply won't be able to review my thirty page math paper on the use of sub-gradients in discontinuous differential equations for control systems. It will be completely foreign to you. If I had to write it so you would be able to understand it, it would be the size of a book.

THIS IS TREMENDOUS!!! (4, Insightful)

Jane Q. Public (1010737) | more than 6 years ago | (#23154694)

Finally, a start on reversing the trend of "commercializing" University research. The latter is an abhorrent practice, especially when funded by taxpayer money. One hopes this is just the beginning.

Re:THIS IS TREMENDOUS!!! (1)

icebike (68054) | more than 6 years ago | (#23154826)

Damn few university research projects yield any benefit to mankind unless and until they are commercialized.

Re:THIS IS TREMENDOUS!!! (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23155200)

There's a difference between commercializing the results of scientific research and commercializing the process of scientific research.

I agree with the other replyer, AND... (1)

Jane Q. Public (1010737) | more than 6 years ago | (#23168390)

There is also a difference between commercializing publicly funded and publicly available information, and the relatively recent trend of patenting or otherwise "privatizing" the results of publicly-funded research so that only a few profit from the investments of many. The latter is more what I was referring to, and as far as I am concerned it is criminal.

Airtime for Skeptics (2, Insightful)

caino (683265) | more than 6 years ago | (#23155222)

Ask MIT's tech transfer office how many of their scientists working on commercial projects are posting their data on the OpenWetWare. I'll give you a hint it starts with a zero. You will never reverse the trend of commercialising University research. I'll tell you why. Research projects that are new and innovative, and have an immediate/significant effect on mankind always will have a commercial partner and become a commercial project. Commercial projects are funded by people who want a return on their investment, and therefore will not be prepared to disclose their data for peer review before they have filed their provisional patents. Universities want to be compensated for the provision of their facilities to conduct basic research. You want to take away their chance to make a dollar or two back for the millions they have spent on research that ends up providing no return? Based on the amount that I paid to go to college, I think that universities are doing a considerable amount of philanthropy. To all you scientists out there riding a white horse and slaying all of humanity's dragons, dont forget that you live in a capitalist system, the one that gives you enough free time to sit and blog and eat cheetos. MIT will be laughing when their new site gets enough hits from useless research projects to start making them a couple of bucks.

You misunderstood me (1)

Jane Q. Public (1010737) | more than 6 years ago | (#23179788)

I never wrote anything of the sort. Please read the rest of this thread.

What I was referring to was the destructive effects of the University and Small Business Patent Procedures Act, otherwise known as the Bayh-Dole Act, and trends that seem to follow it.

As I mentioned elsewhere in this thread, I have no problem with successful commercialization of publicly-funded information that is also publicly available. What I have a problem with is the "privatization" of research results that were paid for largely by tax money. It does NOT benefit society to have large corporations walk away with most of the gain from deals on patents and the like, when a large part of the research behind it was paid for by taxpayers... UNLESS they are competing for that profit along with everyone else with equal access to the relevant PUBLICLY FUNDED research.

Information that was paid for by the public belongs to the public (except in the rare cases of genuine national security concerns). Private interests, whether that means patents by professors and corporations or other "privatization" of publicly funded work, should not only NOT be sanctioned, it should carry a criminal penalty. While I support good pay for educators, if college or University professors want to get rich quick, then they should not be in the education business anyway. This is a serious mismatch.

IF, on the other hand, a commercial interest sees fit to, and finds a way to, profit from the PUBLICLY AVAILABLE INFORMATION resulting from publicly-funded University research, then more power to them. They are truly on the ball.

You say that the other system will not go away, but you forget (or perhaps did not know) that it worked the way I describe for a very long time, and that worked just fine. And in the process it benefitted taxpayers and society in general a lot better than the modern system since the Bayh-Dole Act.

If the current system (which from a societal standpoint is highly dysfunctional) remains, then society will find a way around it and leave it in the dust. It would not be the first time.

Re:THIS IS TREMENDOUS!!! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23166848)

Dude! I don't know if you are in the science world or ever worked in a scientific lab. Scientists are one of the worst paid community, especially when you consider the amount of time and effort they put in, and the kind of output they produce.

Initiatives like this will be successful if the salaries in the science world go up and become attractive. Until then, most scientists with an instinct for self-preservation won't contribute and give away their hard work. It's bad as it is even out here with people stealing work.

Let's have a poll (3, Funny)

arotenbe (1203922) | more than 6 years ago | (#23154740)

Who else looked at the title and went, "Oh God, Stephen Wolfram is involved, RUN LIKE HELL"?

A new kind of science (1)

Yergle143 (848772) | more than 6 years ago | (#23154900)

...for people too lazy to read a scientific paper. And like other Wolfram ideas ignores existing precedent that a lot of clever organizational science exists now cf. the H. Genome Project. The scientific paper, in need of a little reform about credit, will prevail.

Re:Let's have a poll (1)

regularstranger (1074000) | more than 6 years ago | (#23154906)

Stephen Wolfram wants your data for his next book. It will be called "A New Kind of Science, 2.0".

Re:Let's have a poll (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23155096)

me. When I realized it wasn't about wolfram, I had to see how many comments noticed the title. :-)

Re:Let's have a poll (1)

Dachannien (617929) | more than 6 years ago | (#23155180)

I know. I thought, "A New Kind of Science Collaboration"? What is that, like Stephen Wolfram tells you what to do, and you go, "Thank you, sir, may I have another?"

Re:Let's have a poll (1)

Hal_Porter (817932) | more than 6 years ago | (#23155674)

Yeah, but you can digg him down!

I heard Scientific American has dropped Bjorn Lomberg from its Friends List and made all future issues Friends Only too.

God help us all. I used to love reading my Dad's collection of back issues of SciAm from the 60's when I was a kid.

Science back to its roots (2, Insightful)

bigpat (158134) | more than 6 years ago | (#23154786)

The whole point of "science" in the first place was that it only becomes science when observations are related and published in enough detail to allow for reproducible observations and experiments. Otherwise it doesn't matter. This is a natural progression of science using new technology, not some radical shift.

Except in so far as science is always in danger of drifting backwards towards alchemy and superstition and needs constant vigilance to keep it from becoming the domain of wizards and charlatans again.

Clear to me... (2, Insightful)

DigitalisAkujin (846133) | more than 6 years ago | (#23154804)

It's clear that this is simply the next logic step in this discipline known as "Science". What a lot of people forget to understand about hardware technology and it's relationship to the Internet is that the Internet is simply allowing applications to develop very rapidly on a global level in any possible nook and cranny of human interaction on every level in anything. This will continue to accelerate as memory, cpu, space, and bandwidth capacities continue to double every 12-18 months with no real end in sight for at least one decade.

Thinking about how the Internet has changed the world in the past 15 years and how it will continue to do so in the next 50 years.

It's the natural tendency to use tools that speed up your work and therefore make you much more productive in your specific field. Naturally you gravitate towards things that help you stay at the top of the field.

It's like a great cultural revolution in every possible field every couple months/years as software gets better.

When the only tool you have is a hammer.... (3, Insightful)

icebike (68054) | more than 6 years ago | (#23154818)

When the only tool you have is a hammer, every problem looks like a nail.

Why is it a Wiki is the answer to everything? Why does a Wiki qualify as "Web 2.0" (what ever the hell that is).

It would seem to me that a researcher using a wiki could easily get lost in the endless back and forth bickering and sniping on the wiki. The research would be constantly diverted off topic, and and results obtained could never really be claimed as one's own.

Patent miners would arrived soon after any idea was discussed and you would have a hard time convincing a patent judge that a wiki which anyone can modify constitutes prior art.

Re:When the only tool you have is a hammer.... (2, Insightful)

Cap'n Refsmmat (1003152) | more than 6 years ago | (#23154872)

I think you hit the nail on the head there. Although I think part of the point of collaborative editing is that one individual can't claim all of the results. That's part of the deal.

Re:When the only tool you have is a hammer.... (2, Insightful)

TooMuchToDo (882796) | more than 6 years ago | (#23154890)

Wiki is the hammer used on everything because many believe open collaboration is the key to the success of many different projects and ideas.

Re:When the only tool you have is a hammer.... (1)

Rakishi (759894) | more than 6 years ago | (#23155542)

It would seem to me that a researcher using a wiki could easily get lost in the endless back and forth bickering and sniping on the wiki.
Why would there be much or any? A wiki != wikipedia.

The research would be constantly diverted off topic, and and results obtained could never really be claimed as one's own.
Wikis work well when half the participants don't have the intelligence and social skills of a retarded goldfish.

Patent miners would arrived soon after any idea was discussed and you would have a hard time convincing a patent judge that a wiki which anyone can modify constitutes prior art.
Why exactly? Wikis have history and if thats no less reliable than most other ways of storing information. Actually since it's in the public view and likely has many copies it's a better way of claiming prior art than most other methods. A bunch of old files on a floppy in the back of a drawer aren't going to beat it.

Re:When the only tool you have is a hammer.... (1)

arotenbe (1203922) | more than 6 years ago | (#23159722)

Wikis work well when half the participants don't have the intelligence and social skills of a retarded goldfish.
That explains a lot.

As long as it's not on Wolfram's site, he steals!! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23154820)

Wolfram did not acknowledge almost any of the Scientists from whom he used the data for his book "A new kind of science" which was not new at all, books like that have been published since 1980s. Only in his book, he gave it a flashy title, and didn't give any of the Scientists from whom he stole the research articles, that was the only new thing about his book. He even stalled his grad student's dissertation nearly 4 years just so that he could be the first one to publish the law (that the grad student derived...) that bastard is a thief, if he has anything to do with "sharing publications and results online", no Scientist should be stupid enough to put his work within wolfram's grasp. That guys is a crackpot, and so are all his followers.

Horrible name for a natural evolution. (1)

v(*_*)vvvv (233078) | more than 6 years ago | (#23154892)

Although the Scientific community is thought of to be open by nature, some parts of it are extremely closed. Membership to certain groups, the journals that hog publication and distribution rights, and worst of all, the misrepresentation of research credit by professors (this is especially bad outside the USA).

Science 2.0 is a horrible name for something that has been bound to happen. If everyone blogs there is no hiding the truth. All of our observations can now be recorded and published without any sugar coating or room for manipulation, and this can be done for free. Add some portals (such as this MIT OpenWetWare specimen) and we have a self sustaining information machine that will have the latest dibs faster than anyone else directly from the source - much like, err, the internet.

So why the lag? I am guessing that we just had to wait for the internet generation to age and become professors. I do not credit Web 2.0 for any of this, and why you would call this Science 2.0 is beyond me. Maybe to impress the editor?

The Cathedral And The Bazaar, anyone? (5, Interesting)

iris-n (1276146) | more than 6 years ago | (#23154898)

As a scientist, I have to say that this model is utterly beneficial. One of the greatest problems we run when trying to replicate experiments is that the dirty lab details are (intentionally or not) omitted from the fine print articles, making us lose quite a time figuring them out. Obviously it would disappear if such openness became the standard.

Although the idea of making science collaboratively is as old as science itself, it merits having a working model (just don't patent it!) and standing the principle quite out.

Oh and I *hate* this marketing way of naming everything like software versions.

Re:The Cathedral And The Bazaar, anyone? (1)

dkf (304284) | more than 6 years ago | (#23156612)

Oh and I *hate* this marketing way of naming everything like software versions.
But it's Marketing 2.0!

Re:The Cathedral And The Bazaar, anyone? (3, Interesting)

moosesocks (264553) | more than 6 years ago | (#23156654)

That's intentional for a variety of reasons.

1) Journal articles are generally supposed to be concise explanations of your research findings. Not a thorough documentation of your lab procedures. I agree that most papers should go into more depth than they actually do, although omitting a detailed explanation of your experimental procedures is perfectly acceptable because:

2) Eliminating the nitty-gritty details forces you to create your own experimental procedure to verify the results. This greatly helps when attempting to find/isolate flaws in the original researcher's findings that may be due to faults in his procedures. A decent paper should at the very least provide a "roadmap" for repeating the experiment.

3) If this all fails, phone up the original author of the paper, and tell him that you're having trouble repeating 'X' part of his experiment. More likely than not, he'll be flattered that you've taken an interest in his research, and will be happy to assist you, as external verification will greatly increase his reputation and validity of the paper. Conversely, he really doesn't want somebody to publish a paper stating that his findings were not reproducible.

National Programme on Technology Enhanced Learning (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23154910)

NPTEL [youtube.com]
This channel provides technical lectures from all seven Indian Institutes of Technology and Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore.

The Video Courses are organised as PLAYLISTS under the following Categories:

1. Core Sciences
2. Civil Engineering
3. Computer Science and Engineering
4. Electrical Engineering
5. Electronics and Communication Engineering
6. Mechanical Engineering

Please visit the Playlists section in this channel to view the complete list of courses.

Tradeoffs (5, Interesting)

LwPhD (1052842) | more than 6 years ago | (#23154934)

As a professional academic scientist who does both experimental and computational projects, I think there is a very good argument that for many types of science, this sort of approach will fail miserably, even after the technology to take care of it is completely mature. For example, take a genomics project of moderate complexity and moderately broad interest. Such a project may not be SO important or SO interesting or SO difficult as to require an entire consortium of scientists to complete. However, it may be sufficiently complex that it will require coordinated experiments that will cost into the 10s of thousands of dollars and require more than a man year of work to complete. In such cases, it is almost always best for a single lab to do all experiments (for quality control reasons). If a lab were to complete all experiments at great expensive (for a regular lab), why would they then give up that data immediately for others to work on? Sure, it would be quicker, and more insights would come faster. But to be perfectly honest, this would probably decrease the ability for that lab to promote its members by getting priority with good publications. Currently (at least in genomics) there is no way to reward a scientist through contribution to the community in this way. Now, if a way to award credit for this type of work were to be created that allowed:
  • students to apply such work to graduation requirements;
  • postdocs to apply the work to faculty job applications;
  • junior faculty to apply their contributions to tenure review;
then I think this could be a viable system. However, in academia, this is very unlikely for a very long time. It is amazing and wonderful that journals like PLoS are trending in that direction. And it is even better that MIT is pushing from the University side of the equation. But until Science 2.0 methods are explicitly taken into the incentive system of academic review, this type of approach is a non-starter for expensive, time consuming, experimental science. On the other hand, I could see this sort of approach being very useful for computational science. With much data already freely available, it is usually super quick to get certain types of data analyses done, though quality is frequently questionable. (Go to a journal club on a bioinformatics paper if you want hear academic work seriously shredded.) However, this kind of work responds rapidly to the sort of peer review described in TFA. So, perhaps science could start with the bioinformatics model and figure out how to meaningful track credit in that arena before applying the model to experimental work?

Re:Tradeoffs (2, Interesting)

JKelly555 (893253) | more than 6 years ago | (#23155106)

One fact of life in "open science" discussions is that there are going to be people who think it doesn't make sense in their (very competitive) field to be open early about their work. However, there are many, many scientists whose principle problem isn't having their work stolen - it's that no one notices their work. This is especially true among younger scientists still making a name for themselves or folks in smaller fields.

I think there is already significant incentive for young scientists to publicize what they are doing as openly and early as possible. This open group will either be 'scooped' out of existence, or will be more successful thanks to all the unintended benefits of making your work accessible early. We really won't know which it is until we run the experiment, but you can probably guess where I lie on this one.

I think your points about changing the way we award credit are correct on some time scale, but the first group of people who open up will do it totally unprotected. If we need elaborate infrastructure and a change in the scientific reward structure before people open up then we're dead in the water. At OpenWetWare we're trying to create a community that values openness as early as possible in the research process. We support this community by providing simple web tools to make the process of sharing info as easy as possible.

I think it is early days for a lot of this stuff, but from the perspective of a PhD student being open early is a major win. A very small fraction of PhD projects are even "scoop-worthy", and a very large fraction spend time down dead-ends that could have been avoided by the right person noticing a mistake / making a suggestion. Openness wins in this case, IMO.

You should consider joining the site and sharing what you're working on -- you might be surprised that it pays to be more open.

Re:Tradeoffs (2, Interesting)

LwPhD (1052842) | more than 6 years ago | (#23155362)

I have a great deal of respect for this approach to science, but interestingly not for any of the reasons you cite.

I believe that broadening collaboration (expanding collective knowledge) and rapid development (increasing the "effective population size" of a meme pool to use a popgen analogy) are much more compelling arguments for adopting this type of science than are problems publicizing work. If the "Science 2.0" becomes the norm, it is anybody's guess if the signal (work of students wanting their science to be heard) will increase faster than the noise (work of competing students). For early adopters in appropriate fields, they may very well catapult themselves to fame through avenues previously unavailable. However, this seems to be only possible during the transition to "Science 2.0". After attaining equilibrium, I suspect the new system will provide analogous challenges to being heard above everyone else. The advantage of the new system won't be promotion of science of an individual. I think instead (in an ideal world), it will be a more efficient mechanism of promoting good work, faster, and in a more egalitarian way.

I also think that any work worth doing is worth rewarding and/or scooping. Just because a young scientist may not have a thesis or project "worthy" of publishing in Science or Nature, doesn't mean other scientists in similar situations wouldn't be interested in reading that work or getting credit for it. A publication in a medium to low impact factor journal can count towards graduation in most places, and therefore is VERY valuable to an individual student. And most of these journals have ambiguous policies with regard to novelty and its intersection with "Science 2.0". As a result, even with "unworthy" publications, there is significant risk to going open source if there is ambiguity as to how the work will eventually be disseminated.

I think it is essential that the incentive and reward systems for science should definitely change to incorporate this framework. Science can and has changed in the very recent past, and I don't think requiring this sort of organizational change to promote open source science is a deal-breaker at all.

This is another train of thought that doesn't feed directly into my arguments, but here goes. I disagree that going completely open-source science for most projects at all stages of development is ultimately healthy for science. I would tend to think that this would create one huge echo-chamber that is extremely efficient at amplifying its own dogma. I very much think that the interplay between multiple schools of thought is very useful, as they tend to have different biases, and explore different issues frequently ignored by other schools. This is no argument for not using open-source collaboration. However, I do think that this sort of collaboration does break down so many barriers to migration of ideas that it has the potential to create one large "panmictic" population of ideas, leading to the echo-chamber trap. I suspect that a model where everyone instantly accesses everyone else's ideas isn't optimal for good science, as anyone who works in science knows that successful ideas frequently aren't the best ideas. (I mean successful in the popularity sense.) They frequently are the "coolest" fads or the incremental advances that flatter "poobahs" of the field without challenging dogma. Amplifying these ideas will impose a cost. I also think that, in such an environment, it might even be more difficult to promote science that challenges the conventional wisdom. If your new idea is immediately challenged by the community before you've had time to develop it fully, would you not be less likely to pursue it?

The benefits of "Science 2.0" are legion and probably outnumber the costs. But I think adopting and promoting it can be done cautiously. After all, even if it takes 10-20 years to fully integrate these advances, we've really only lost the blink of an eye. And when I'm advising students, I'll certainly educate them about the pitfalls of this approach. As a system, this approach may be the best system, but I don't want anybody I've given advice to be the roadkill that litters the road to the new paradigm if I can help it. That being said, if I'm ever on a committee at a university that takes up such issues, I'm likely to promote policy changes that are congenial to this kind of science.

Re:Tradeoffs (1)

JKelly555 (893253) | more than 6 years ago | (#23155534)

I believe that broadening collaboration (expanding collective knowledge) and rapid development (increasing the "effective population size" of a meme pool to use a popgen analogy) are much more compelling arguments for adopting this type of science than are problems publicizing work.

Couldn't agree more. I was just pointing out that there is incentive already for scientists to start doing this now, instead of waiting for big changes in how the reward system works.

I also think that any work worth doing is worth rewarding and/or scooping. Just because a young scientist may not have a thesis or project "worthy" of publishing in Science or Nature, doesn't mean other scientists in similar situations wouldn't be interested in reading that work or getting credit for it. A publication in a medium to low impact factor journal can count towards graduation in most places, and therefore is VERY valuable to an individual student.

I think the bars for work being valuable to an individual student and work being so good that someone else is going to secretly steal it, race you to the results, and publish first (e.g. "scoop you") are dramatically different. I'm not arguing that work that's not published in the tabloids isn't good work / valuable -- im just saying that people overestimate the odds that someone will steal their work -- to the detriment of open science.

And most of these journals have ambiguous policies with regard to novelty and its intersection with "Science 2.0". As a result, even with "unworthy" publications, there is significant risk to going open source if there is ambiguity as to how the work will eventually be disseminated.

This is actually a misconception, IMO. Nature has recently started a pre-print type server (Nature preceedings) and as I understand it they are trying to get together a list of publishers to sign off on saying they'll publish something that was "shared" earlier through a non-media, non-journal route (just to put this issue to rest). Every journal editor I've spoken to about this is happy to accept work that has been shared online previously.

I think it is essential that the incentive and reward systems for science should definitely change to incorporate this framework. Science can and has changed in the very recent past, and I don't think requiring this sort of organizational change to promote open source science is a deal-breaker at all.

The reward system is essentially tied to academic hiring and that process moves at a glacial pace. we need to get started now.

This is another train of thought that doesn't feed directly into my arguments, but here goes. I disagree that going completely open-source science for most projects at all stages of development is ultimately healthy for science. I would tend to think that this would create one huge echo-chamber that is extremely efficient at amplifying its own dogma. ... If your new idea is immediately challenged by the community before you've had time to develop it fully, would you not be less likely to pursue it?

Yeah, this is interesting. I tend to think the walls that are up between labs and institutions already create echo chambers. If folks could shoot a crazy idea out into the open science ether and find a few people that return the signal then there might be a much better chance it gets pursued. But you might be right, not sure.

The benefits of "Science 2.0" are legion and probably outnumber the costs. But I think adopting and promoting it can be done cautiously. After all, even if it takes 10-20 years to fully integrate these advances, we've really only lost the blink of an eye. And when I'm advising students, I'll certainly educate them about the pitfalls of this approach. As a system, this approach may be the best system, but I don't want anybody I've given advice to be the roadkill that litters the road to the new paradigm if I can help it.

Well don't let them miss the open science train, either ;)

That being said, if I'm ever on a committee at a university that takes up such issues, I'm likely to promote policy changes that are congenial to this kind of science.

Need more folks like you.

Re:Tradeoffs (1)

MrHops (712514) | more than 6 years ago | (#23160036)

...Now, if a way to award credit for this type of work were to be created that allowed: * students to apply such work to graduation requirements; * postdocs to apply the work to faculty job applications; * junior faculty to apply their contributions to tenure review; then I think this could be a viable system.

It just struck me that Google's page-ranking system might have some applicability to this problem. Not that I am claiming to know the details of their ranking system, but one could envision mining the edit history of the contributors, the utility of those edits to the final product (and possibly some other data) to arrive at a reasonable assignment of value/compensation for each contributor.

Of course, now that I have published my great idea on a public forum, someone else will steal it and make lots of money from it. :-)

Re:Tradeoffs (1)

simplerThanPossible (1056682) | more than 6 years ago | (#23160060)

You painstakingly gather data, and have some initial insights about it. You publish all the data immediately.

Someone else sees the data, and because they are coming to it fresh, not so close to the data, and not exhausted by hard work (unlike you...), they instantly see something that you haven't yet seen.

Note that this is definitely better for the world... but who gets the credit? The accolades? The grants? The promotions?

And who gets the feeling of discovering something?

Re:Tradeoffs (1)

DecoyMG (228535) | more than 6 years ago | (#23166010)

Perhaps the ENCODE project is a map for how genomic data will be produced in the near future. Quoting from the ENCODE project data use policy:

Users of Consortium data, whether members of the Consortium or not, should be aware of the publication status of the data they use and treat them accordingly. For example, all investigators, including other Consortium members, should obtain the consent of the data producers before using unpublished data in their individual publications.
Any data collected by an ENCODE member lab, must be placed online immediately after verification. The verification step is usually an experimental replication, so the raw data goes into databases well before publication. By convention, the producers of the data have the first shot at publishing.

OpenWetWare (3, Informative)

comm2k (961394) | more than 6 years ago | (#23154944)

I use OpenWetWare primarily to get protocols for experiments. It is quite handy as there are usually several protocols for doing the same thing or comments of how some people do step X or Y different. You can get a much faster overview of a method than the usual learn X only.. then much later you learn about Y and how it could have been a better way to do it.

Huh? Web 2.0 (1)

fat_mike (71855) | more than 6 years ago | (#23154994)

No need to link to the Wikipedia article, already perused it. Why don't they just call it BBS 2008.26? I mean its the same damn thing.

I forgot, it won't make money if it doesn't have at least five buzz words behind it. Wasn't Web 2.0 originally a combination of Apache/MySQL/PHP? What happened to Java 11123.23423? Do I smell soap in the air????

And no offense, but doesn't the scientific community have Internet 2.0? Or is it Internet 2.dvds-tranfers-in-30-seconds-ha-we-do-it-in-ten-and-we've-been-talking-about-it-for-10-years-but-you'll-never-see-it-because-its-the-only-topic-we-have-for-conversation-while-trying-to-get-laid-next-pun-intended.36-12 stroke 9?

Hmm, just wondering.

I remember SciAm (1)

DynaSoar (714234) | more than 6 years ago | (#23155074)

I wonder what ever happened to it? The thing wearing that name now is OMNI without the scifi. I loved OMNI for what it was, and what it was was not Scientific American, and neither is this.

They can call it 2.0 all they want, but it's still the same web with the same handful of things people do, evolved to have more pretty widgets. Everything they mention here we did or could have done before, even pre-web.

I'm not buying it. I want my stuff peer reviewed, by qualified editors at the journals I submit to. I don't care what someone crawling in on a browser thinks. And I darn sure don't care what either of them thinks of it before I say it's ready to be looked at. Within my team, sure, we always have shared everything. At one time I was on a team using FIDOnet for communication and archiving. Same things being done, different ways to do it, and that's all just plain old history passing, not some revolutionary paradigm.

Oh, and before it was a "blog" it was a home page that someone didn't bother to break up into pieces and put onto other pages, as hyperlinking intended, and just kept adding on more and more stuff at the bottom. And we thought they were idiots.

So get your hands of my science, and stop sticking your silly little 2.0s all over it.

A new model (2, Interesting)

stox (131684) | more than 6 years ago | (#23155088)

I wonder if this could lead to a new model in science, a split, those who produce the data and those who digest it. To a small extent, this is already true in the HEP community. It could lead to an an exciting new era in research.

Re:A new model (1)

DerekLyons (302214) | more than 6 years ago | (#23157268)

This isn't a particularly new model, such a division has existed in many fields since around the beginnings of science. High Energy Physics is just the only field where one side of the divide felt it necessary to differentiate itself from the other. (Though sometimes, nowadays, geologists feel the same need - to differentiate between those who go into the field and those who never leave their lab bench or computer screen.)

Open Wet Ware (1)

TheCybernator (996224) | more than 6 years ago | (#23155516)

hmmmmm....interesting!!

Collaborate to end human labor (0, Offtopic)

posys (1120031) | more than 6 years ago | (#23156640)

This is great news...

...especially if we collaborate on acceleration of the
ROLLOUT of the FULLY ROBOTIC WAGELESS ECONOMY where
no one works for anyone else since all work is done
by real robots instead of humans who were born to play all day.

http://roboeco.com/collaborate [roboeco.com]

Yet another "2.0" (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23157632)

Science 1.0:

Scientists, caught in the battle between funding and truth, and with insufficient oversight, sometimes find themselves tempted to manipulate experimental outcomes.

Science 2.0:

Ceiling Cat iz in ur lab, watching ur experimentz!

It's About Time! (1)

David Greene (463) | more than 6 years ago | (#23158250)

Too bad I don't see and computing (computer science or engineering) colleagues on the list of groups. We need real reform in our industry.

I pretty much gave up on academia in the computing field after becoming disgusted at what I saw in graduate school. We are by far the most unscientific engineering discipline around and it's costing us.

Encouraging release and discussion of negative results is by far the most useful thing this collaborative effort will bring. I can't tell you how many times I talked to students who all looked at the same thing and all concluded it didn't work. Researchers waste many hours rediscovering failures that other groups may have encountered years prior. But our ridiculous notion that any paper that doesn't show a 10% improvement is unpublishable means that this information never gets exchanged.

The other big failure in our field is the absolutely unreproduceable nature of results. So many assumptions go unstated in papers that it is impossible to recreate the experiment. Believe me, I've tried multiple times. I have yet to read a software engineering paper and try to implement the idea where I did not have some major question about how the thing is supposed to work.

Part of the problem is that the peer reviewers of these papers are not professors but rather their students. This has pluses and minuses. The students are often closer to the actual work than the professors and can have insights the professor will not. On the other hand, their relative lack of experience means that they aren't necessarily thinking about reproduceability or making sure all details are fully disclosed. The "peer" in "peer review" should include people at all levels in the discipline.

We need comprehensive reform in the computer science and engineering field. I would start with the following:

  • Encourage publication of negative results
  • Positive results must be reproduceable
  • Any software used in published experiments must be released with full source code (helps reproduceability)
  • Ensure that reviewers at multiple experience levels sign off on any peer reviewed article

I'm sure there are more things to be done. I'd publish a paper about this but I can't prove a 10% improvement to the process.

Yeah, but... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23160848)

80% of the posts are still going to be geeks shouting "First!"

I've Had It up to HERE (1)

juancnuno (946732) | more than 6 years ago | (#23161658)

I've had it up to HERE with two point oh. Enough already.
Check for New Comments
Slashdot Account

Need an Account?

Forgot your password?

Don't worry, we never post anything without your permission.

Submission Text Formatting Tips

We support a small subset of HTML, namely these tags:

  • b
  • i
  • p
  • br
  • a
  • ol
  • ul
  • li
  • dl
  • dt
  • dd
  • em
  • strong
  • tt
  • blockquote
  • div
  • quote
  • ecode

"ecode" can be used for code snippets, for example:

<ecode>    while(1) { do_something(); } </ecode>
Create a Slashdot Account

Loading...