Open Science

An introductory elucidation of open science

The concept of open science is not a new one. It can be traced back to Merton (1957) and then to economists (Dagupta and David, 1994), who describe the working of science as a social institution: science is based on the so-called priority-based reward system. This system gives researchers credit for the prompt and full disclosure of their discoveries (usually in academic journals, but sometimes via other outlets such as databases), accomplishing several interrelated objectives (Cockburn et al., 2011). A priority-based reward system complements academic freedom (an academic scientist has incentives to come up with their own solution to a problem that another is also dealing with – the latter being eager to learn about the solution found by the former), it encourages prompt disclosure, it secures a collective process of quality control and provides a transparent means for access by future scientists to the body of knowledge in a particular area. Open science seems therefore to be a more complex concept than open access. It describes a set of institutions and social norms that are functionally quite well suited to the goal of maximising the long-run growth of the stock of scientific knowledge. (In another paper posted on the SWR blog two years ago, I explained that it is because of the importance of open science for scientific performance that citizen science – which is not necessarily based on open science – is not as straightforward as is generally thought).Read more

Dear contributors to our blog

Thanks a lot for your replies and contributions (see comments on my last blog post). They succeeded in turning my short argument into a rich and useful discussion. - I found the comments by Roger E. very interesting. He provides a fascinating case of citizen science (Hammerdirt) and also shows very well that being fully part of modern AND open science is not an easy thing to do (“most people will abandon the project”) and I agree that we can expect that those who will stay are really good.

Read more