Another early-career scientist goes on the public record intending to do open science.

I forgot to blog about this article in The Scientist when Bora first linked it, but now Jean-Claude has reminded me. The main focus is on Reed Cartwright’s adventures in authorship (and do go read that link; it’s a nice example of how science should work, and Comai is a class act), but Bora and Jean-Claude also get a mention; they’ve posted the relevant excerpts on their blogs. The bit that really grabbed me, and that I meant to write about, was this quote about/from Bora:

Zivkovic concedes that he has had less luck in convincing people that he should post his dissertation on his blog before he publishes it [than in convincing them to publish orphan data]. “But if and when I get to having my own lab I’d like to be completely open,” he says, “having a live blog where everyone posts what happens in the lab every day.”

Bravo, Bora! I’ve said the same thing, here and elsewhere, and of course Jean-Claude is actually doing it. It makes me wonder, who else is out there, hoping and planning to do open science? In comments here, Propter Doc (I wish I’d thought of that nick!) wishes there was a way to publish orphan data in the open (and Jean-Claude points to a couple of possibilities, including blogging). I have previously pointed to some other examples: bioinformatics work from Sandra Porter and Pedro Beltrao, chemoinformatics software from Egon Willighagen, organic syntheses from Org Prep Daily and Rosie Redfield and her students blogging hypotheses, thinking-out-loud and even data. I recently noticed that Jonathan Eisen had started blogging his OA papers (reminding me that I must get my professional back catalog, such as it is, onto a repository somewhere).
There must be more. Who else is doing, or planning to do, open science? And further, how can we help each other?
My working hypothesis is that open, collaborative models should out-produce the current standard model of research, which involves a great deal of inefficiency in the form of secrecy and mistrust. Open science barely exists at the moment — infancy would be an overly optimistic term for its developmental state. Right now, one of the most important things open science advocates can do is find and support each other (and remember, openness is inclusive of a range of practices — there’s no purity test; we share a hypothesis not an ideology).
So talk to me, putative ally and colleague! Who are you, where are you, how can I help you? I sure would like to hear from you.

8 thoughts on “Another early-career scientist goes on the public record intending to do open science.

  1. I love Rosie Redfield’s approach. You can feel how she and her group go about stuff, and it doesn’t need to be about data, it can how they approach their hypothesis or write their funding applications. If I ever get to be an academic, I want to be at an institution where I can do that. I also want to be able to make an online record of my ‘nearly but not quite’ experiments where I synthesise stuff but the final step didn’t work or the like. I want to get that information out there into the public domain somehow where it might help people.
    Reasons I can’t do this now? My current research group where I postdoc has too many industry connections. I’m not involved in the industry work but I don’t think they would be happy with the public nature of it. It has to be in one’s own name after all.

  2. Bill,
    It looks like most of the interest in Open Science is coming from the next generation of scientists. When these people are actually in tenure track positions and completely in control of how their research is disseminated, they will be facing though decisions. The reality right now is that if you are shooting for a Nature or Science publication you simply can’t disclose your results. So instead of an all-or-nothing attitude towards Openness I think there is a lot of room for experimenting with making more of the research process open.
    At some point, though, I think we can find a way of sufficiently validating open science to not have to make those choices. In order to do that we’ll have to get these Open Scientists on tenure committees :)
    I look forward to seeing you, Bora and Propter Doc create those precedents.

  3. instead of an all-or-nothing attitude towards Openness I think there is a lot of room for experimenting with making more of the research process open
    Jean-Claude, as usual, I couldn’t agree more. That’s what I meant when I said there’s no purity test. All openness is good openness, pretty much. There’s no need to demand that everyone to do Open Notebook Science right away — although I readily admit that my ultimate goal would be a world where all research is Open Notebook.
    I couldn’t agree more about the next generation, also — nowhere do my suggestions about OA publishing and Open Science get a more receptive hearing than among the graduate students here.

  4. I agree with Jean-Claude. I think the next couple of years will be a trial period in open science with more people working openly in science projects. Until there is some proof that the advantages (efficient use of resources) overtake the risks (cheaters and scooping) there will not be many people jumping in. As I mentioned in a recent blog post what we need right now is examples of successful projects.

  5. I think there are plenty of examples around us of how Open Science can work to everyone’s advantage. But I understand the fear many have about openness regarding cheating, tenure, etc. What we as a community need to do is to work to make those fears be invalid. That is, to make them only fears andnot reality. Thus I think the places to work on include (1) improving the reputaiton of Open Access publications (which is why I work hard for PLoS Biology, for example) (2) to cotniuously work on tenure review processes to reward junior faculty for being open (3) to work on grant review panels to reward openness and (4) to reward people for whatever contribution to openness they make.
    I think in terms of Open Notebook science, maybe we can convince people to have some projects in the lab be Open Notebook even if not all are. So – I am committing right now to trying to do that in my lab. I have been pushing on Open Access publishing and Open Access to post-publication data, but I will now try to be more open pre-publication

  6. I’m continually surprised that no other research group has research blogs like ours.
    It’s disturbing to think that everyone else has such powerful competitors that they can’t afford to risk talking about their ideas and experiments. Maybe most of them are doing “me too” science – that would be a shame.

  7. Well, with a new baby and a two year old I have little time to figure out how to do an Open Notebook science, but if we do we will probably put it on our Wiki and maybe mirror it to OWW. As for Rosie’s comment – you are, as ever, a decade ahead of all others. But why are you surprised? It seems to me that scientists are about as conservative as any community in the world in terms of changing their behavior in a modern world.

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