Putting open science into practice: A social dilemma?

Digital technologies carry the promise of transforming science and opening up the research process. We interviewed researchers from a variety of backgrounds about their attitudes towards and experiences with openness in their research practices. We observe a considerable discrepancy between the concept of open science and scholarly reality. While many researchers support open science in theory, the individual researcher is confronted with various difficulties when putting open science into practice. We analyse the major obstacles to open science and group them into two main categories: individual obstacles and systemic obstacles. We argue that the phenomenon of open science can be seen through the prism of a social dilemma: what is in the collective best interest of the scientific community is not necessarily in the best interest of the individual scientist. We discuss the possibilities of transferring theoretical solutions to social dilemma problems to the realm of open science.


First Monday. Kaja Scheliga, Sascha Friesike.

The Open Access Interviews: Paul Royster, Coordinator of Scholarly Communications, University of Nebraska-Lincoln

Paul Royster is proud of what he has achieved with his institutional repository. Currently, it contains 73,000 full-text items, of which more than 60,000 are freely accessible to the world. This, says Royster, makes it the second largest institutional repository in the US, and it receives around 500,000 downloads per month, with around 30% of those going to international users. Unsurprisingly, Royster always assumed that he was in the vanguard of the OA movement, and that fellow OA advocates attached considerable value to the work he was doing. All this changed in 2012, when...
Open and Shut?.

Science’s Big Data Problem

Modern science seems to have data coming out of its ears. From genome sequencing machines capable of reading a human’s chromosomal DNA (about 1.5 gigabytes of data) in half an hour to particle accelerators like the Large Hadron Collider at CERN (which generates close to 100 terabytes of data a day), researchers are awash with information. Yet in this age of big data, science has a big problem: it is not doing nearly enough to encourage and enable the sharing, analysis and interpretation of the vast swatches of data that researchers are collecting.


Timo Hannay. Wired.

Path Dependence and Academic Publishing

Publishing in academia still bears the imprints of the book age.
Just as in the story of the QWERTY keyboard, a system of academic publishing prevailed that works, but is suboptimal. The established system of academic publishing, from submission, review, and publication is in the eye of the socio-technological opportunities outdated. It takes too much time, it is too expensive and leads to an artificial scarcity of content. It no longer reflects the zeitgeist.

When data sharing gets close to 100%: what ancient human DNA studies can teach the Open Science movement

This study analyzes rates and ways of data sharing regarding mitochondrial, Y chromosomal and autosomal polymorphisms in a total of 162 papers on human ancient DNA published between 1988 and 2013. [...] Our study highlights three important aspects. First, we provide evidence that researchers motivations are as necessary as stakeholders policies and norms to achieve very high sharing rates. Second, careful analyses of the ways in which data are made available are an important first step to maximize data findability, accessibility, useability and preservation. Third and finally, the case of human ancient DNA studies demonstrates how Open Science can foster scientific advancements, showing that openness and transparency can help build rigorous and reliable scientific practices even in the presence of complex experimental challenges.

The Open Knowledge Festival 2014 is starting soon!

To create societies where everyone has both access to key information and the ability to use it to understand and shape their lives, we must build knowledge into the heart of all of our activities. This is a big task which requires not just a global shift in mindset, but also that we build the tools and communities to make such a society possible. We invite you to join us from 15-17 July in Berlin for OKFestival 2014 as we consider how to translate Open Minds to Open Action.

The role of repositories in the future of the journal

The UK Working Group on Expanding Access to Published Research Findings, chaired by Dame Janet Finch, report, “Accessibility, sustainability, excellence: how to expand access to research publications,” helped to crystallize a long simmering debate within the open access (OA) community: should the focus for OA advocates be “green” open access – that is, the use of repositories to make research published through traditional subscription-based venues openly available – or should it be ‘gold’ open access – that is, through publication within venues that are themselves open access?

UK data centre marks 50 years of recording nature

The Biological Records Centre, which supports more than 80 wildlife recording societies and schemes, is celebrating its 50th anniversary. Its data, submitted by volunteers, is used by scientists, such as monitoring the spread of invasive species. It has also helped researchers gain insight into ecological concerns, such as the demise of pollinating insects.


BBC News.

How much did your university pay for your journals?

For many purchases, price comparisons are a few mouse clicks away. Not for academic journals. Universities buy access to most of their subscription journals through large bundled packages, much like home cable subscriptions that include hundreds of TV stations. But whereas cable TV providers largely stick to advertised prices, universities negotiate with academic publishing companies behind closed doors, and those deals usually come with nondisclosure agreements that keep the bundled prices secret. After several years of digging, and even legal action, a team of economists has pried out some of those numbers.


AAAS Science. John Bohannon.

Why do we still have journals?

Here is an editorial essay by Gerald F. Davis that appeared recently in Administrative Science Quarterly.
Abstract: The Web has greatly reduced the barriers to entry for new journals and other platforms for communicating scientific output, and the number of journals continues to multiply. This leaves readers and authors with the daunting cognitive challenge of navigating the literature and discerning contributions that are both relevant and significant. Meanwhile, measures of journal impact that might guide the use of the literature have become more visible and consequential, leading to “impact gamesmanship” that renders the measures increasingly suspect. The incentive system created by our journals is broken. In this essay, I argue that the core technology of journals is not their distribution but their review process. The organization of the review process reflects assumptions about what a contribution is and how it should be evaluated. Through their review processes, journals can certify contributions, convene scholarly communities, and curate works that are worth reading. Different review processes thereby create incentives for different kinds of work. It’s time for a broader dialogue about how we connect the aims of the social science enterprise to our system of journals.
Its open access.