open science, data on blogs

Three things, file under “loosely related”:
1. If you read my RSS feed, ‘scuse the deluge; I went back and assigned a number of posts to the “open access/open science” category.
Speaking of old posts, here are two that never made it out of the “drafts” folder:
2. Peter Suber notices Jean-Claude Bradley’s chemistry data blog and points to an entry on JCB’s e-learning blog that I’ve been meaning to highlight:

I think that the part [of open access/open science] that we have yet to embrace is the posting of work fresh out of the test tube. As long as scientific research is published in an article format and its value is determined by a popularity contest of citations and peer-reviewed blessing, there will be little motivation to post work fresh out of the test tube. Especially when issues like competition and tenure are at stake.

The reality is that the impact of raw experimental data is usually unknowable at the time when it is generated. It may never be used by anyone (which is a guarantee if kept in a private lab notebook) or it may at some point answer a key question for an agent (human or otherwise) looking for a solution to an important problem.

My opinion at this point is that publishers or any kind of central repositories are not going to be as effective in communicating this kind of raw scientific data, unless it is readily available on the uberdatabases like Google or MSN. That’s why Blogger makes an optimal vehicle to communicate raw experimental data: no cost, no gatekeeper and anyone looking on an uberdatabase will find your stuff.

Update: in comments, Jean-Claude points out that in fact, blogs are better for reporting milestones, overviews and so on. For the fresh-out-of-the-test-tube stuff, he’s moved to a hosted wiki which provides version tracking with 3rd party timestamps. These features provide proof of priority, in case it is ever needed.
3. Blogging data/ideas: it’s not just for science. Here’s Rob Helpy-Chalk doing it in philosophy: I just had a think, and My presentation at the ISEE/IAEP.

4 thoughts on “open science, data on blogs

  1. Since that post we have moved our raw experimental data to a hosted wiki, which is even better mainly because it keeps track of different versions with third party timestamps and makes it easy to find out who-knew-or-did-what-when. The blog format is better used to report milestones and discuss larger issues of the research.

  2. This is definitely a frontier issue that I think many scientists are trying to figure out as we speak. It might not hurt to test the format in a research area that isn’t fiercely competitive. Scientists do scoop other scientists, even without blogs, and while you might wag a finger at them, they tend to get away with it.
    I’m starting a new blog on my own earth science research, partly because I can’t seem to tear myself away from the web. I figure I might as well get some research done while I’m blogging. We’ll see how it goes.

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