Could #Blockchain provide the technical fix to solve science’s reproducibility crisis?

Soenke Bartling and Benedikt Fecher on the use of blockchain technology in research.
Currently blockchain is being hyped. Many claim that the blockchain revolution will affect not only our online life, but will profoundly change many more aspects of our society. Many foresee these changes as potentially being more far-reaching than those brought by the internet in the last two decades. If this holds true, it is certain that research and knowledge creation will also be affected by this. So, what is blockchain all about? More importantly, could knowledge creation benefit from it? One potential area it could be useful is in addressing the credibility and reproducibility crisis in science.

Article on #openaccess scholarly innovation and research infrastructure

In this article Benedikt Fecher and Gert Wagner argue that the current endeavors to achieve open access in scientific literature require a discussion about innovation in scholarly publishing and research infrastructure. Drawing on path dependence theory and addressing different open access (OA) models and recent political endeavors, the authors argue that academia is once again running the risk of outsourcing the organization of its content.

The ResearchGate Score: a good example of a bad metric

According to ResearchGate, the academic social networking site, their RG Score is “a new way to measure your scientific reputation”. With such high aims, Peter Kraker, Katy Jordan and Elisabeth Lex take a closer look at the opaque metric. By reverse engineering the score, they find that a significant weight is linked to ‘impact points’ – a similar metric to the widely discredited journal impact factor. Transparency in metrics is the only way scholarly measures can be put into context and the only way biases – which are inherent in all socially created metrics – can be uncovered.

Jonas Kaiser and Benedikt Fecher on #academicblogs

In a substantial analysis of over 500 German-speaking science blogs, Jonas Kaiser and Benedikt Fecher look at what hyperlinks are used within prominent science blogs to investigate how scientists link to each other and outside sources. Using visualisation and mapping software, their results show how science blogs form new networks beyond traditional disciplines and interact with the wider general blogosphere.

Reputation instead of obligation: forging new policies to motivate academic data sharing

Despite strong support from funding agencies and policy makers academic data sharing sees hardly any adoption among researchers. Current policies that try to foster academic data sharing fail, as they try to either motivate researchers to share for the common good or force researchers to publish their data. Instead, Sascha Friesike, Benedikt Fecher, Marcel Hebing, and Stephanie Linek argue that in order to tap into the vast potential that is attributed to academic data sharing we need to forge new policies that follow the guiding principle reputation instead of obligation.

The Open Publishing Revolution, Now Behind A Billion-Dollar Paywall

In 2013, when Victor Henning announced that his six-year-old startup Mendeley would be acquired by one of the world's biggest media companies, he knew there would be blowback. He just couldn't have anticipated how bad it would get. "Seeing that some of our most vocal advocates thought we had sold them out felt awful," Henning said recently over a tea in Amsterdam, where Elsevier, Mendeley's parent company, is headquartered. Launched in 2007 by Henning and two friends at graduate school, Mendeley built an unlikely but very useful piece of software—think a variation on Evernote combined with Facebook—aimed at helping researchers organize their papers, annotate them, and share them with each other.

Open Hardware for Open Science – Interview with Charles Fracchia

At this year’s SXSW Interactive, we had an opportunity to talk with [Charles Fracchia], a renaissance hacker at the MIT Media Lab. Reinforcing the Media Lab’s “eclectic genius” stereotype, [Charles]’s background spans an impressive range of fields—from Synthetic Biology to Biomedical Engineering and beyond. A biologist by training, he is also a self-taught hardware hacker and, these days, is spending most of his time building “hybrid” systems at the intersection of Biology, Computer Science, and Electrical Engineering. True to the hacker spirit of open collaboration and sharing, he is also a big proponent of Open Science and is committed to making it a reality in the field of Biomedical Research.

LSE Impact Blog: Academia is a Reputation Economy

Short summary of the paper " A Reputation Economy: Results from an Empirical Survey on Academic Data Sharing" in the LSE Blog. (two of our editors are co-authors)
Data sharing has the potential to facilitate wider collaboration and foster scientific progress. But while 88% of researchers in a recent study confirmed they would like to use shared data, only 13% had actually made their own data publicly available.

What drives academic data sharing?

Benedikt Fecher, Sascha Friesike and Marcel Hebing in an PLOS article on what drives data sharing in academia.
We show that this process can be divided into six descriptive categories: Data donor, research organization, research community, norms, data infrastructure, and data recipients. Drawing from our findings, we discuss theoretical implications regarding knowledge creation and dissemination as well as research policy measures to foster academic collaboration. We conclude that research data cannot be regarded as knowledge commons, but research policies that better incentivise data sharing are needed to improve the quality of research results and foster scientific progress.

New DIW working paper out: Academia as a reputation economy

The results for 1564 valid responses show that researchers across disciplines recognise the benefit of secondary research data for their own work and for scientific progress as a whole—still they only practice it in moderation. An explanation for this evidence could be an academic system that is not driven by monetary incentives, nor the desire for scientific progress, but by individual reputation—expressed in (high ranked journal) publications. We label this system a Reputation Economy. This special economy explains our findings that show that researchers have a nuanced idea how to provide adequate formal recognition for making data available to others—namely data citations. We conclude that data sharing will only be widely adopted among research professionals if sharing pays in form of reputation. Thus, policy measures that intend to foster research collaboration need to understand academia as a reputation economy. Successful measures must value intermediate products, such as research data, more highly than it is the case now.