Open Science

14 May

I have to admit that until this week I had assumed that publishing in the world of science had undergone many of the same changes and shifts in established structures that other areas of publishing were experiencing in the twenty first century. In fact I had never really thought about it. After engaging with the readings for this week, I’ve learnt that this is not the case. Science, which is primarily responsible for the digital, the ‘information age’, web 2.0, P2P networks, and pretty much all other elements that have lead to the interconnected nature of modern life and modern society, has not yet fully embraced the nature of its creation.

Both Wilbanks (2011) and Pisani (2011) emphasize that the scientific publishing industry has not altered its publishing systems or structures so that it can be widely accessible. The industry has maintained the medium of print as its main form of distribution and this has raised issues associated with the limitation of public access and the ‘dissemination of vital knowledge’ that has become increasingly expected in the digital age. This differs largely from the nature of music and news publishing, which has changed significantly in the last 20 years because of scientific and technological advancements.

It is important to note that, as argued in Seed’s (2011) article on Science Transfer that was included in the readings this week, it is in fact the conservative nature of science that has allowed it to exist over many millennia. Science has always involved the need for an idea to be considered commendable before it is widely communicated. In addition to this, publishing scientific papers provides credibility and funding for scientists. However, by not partaking in the shared nature of the digital age, science is preventing itself from reaching its full potential for advancement. An open scientific publishing system would allow science to progress faster in the next 10 years, than it has progressed in the last 50. A key element of the digital age is collaboration, and this has occurred in so many other areas of society. It must occur in scientific publishing. Science needs to include itself within the network culture that exists today, so that scientific knowledge is not limited to the confines of a scientific ‘paper’. Both Wilbanks and Pisani emphasize that in a networked culture, scientific publishing will have no confines, scientists from different areas of the world will continuously refine and expand on research, and this is ultimately beneficial.

References

Pisani, Elizabeth (2011) ‘Medical science will benefit from the research of crowds’, The Guardian, January 11, <http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2011/jan/11/medical-research-data-sharing > (Accessed 14/5/2013)

Seed (2011) ‘On Science Transfer’, Seed < http://seedmagazine.com/content/print/on_science_transfer > (Accessed 14/5/2013)

Wilbanks, John (2011) ‘On Science Publishing’, Seed, < http://seedmagazine.com/content/article/on_science_publishing > (Accessed 14/5/2013)

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