[open-science] Open science and OKFN

Oldak Quill oldakquill at gmail.com
Sun Sep 7 12:36:02 UTC 2008

Just an e-mail about OKFN and open science, the state of open science,
and a suggestion as to what is needed.

Looking at the OKFN website, OKFN currently has no open science
projects. Some of the tools supported by OKFN are incidentally related
to open science (data distribution, e.g.). Have there been any ideas
or suggestions about how OKFN may develop open science other than
non-specific licenses and tools supported currently? What was the push
to set up this list?

Beyond OKFN, open science has been building momentum in the last two
years. Some notable open science projects (that I know of):

*http://www.biomedcentral.com/ BioMed Central - "an independent
publishing house committed to providing immediate open access to
peer-reviewed biomedical research". BioMed Central currently supports
a couple of hundred journals and licenses these under the CC-by-2.0
license, an OKFN Open Knoweldge Definition conformant license.

*http://sciencecommons.org/ Science Commons - "designs strategies and
tools for faster, more efficient web-enabled scientific research. We
identify unnecessary barriers to research, craft policy guidelines and
legal agreements to lower those barriers, and develop technology to
make research data and materials easier to find and use." A project of
Creative Commons.

*A number of projects maintained by the US federal government (the NIH
and the NCBI) are necessarily public domain.

Open science is multifaceted. The means to do research should be as
free and as open as possible (i.e. software tools), data must be open,
and papers and other interpretations of data must be open (free to
access and reuse). I here define "interpretations of data" very
broadly to include scientific papers, diagrams, other texts, and
annotation projects (annotated proteins/chemicals, e.g.). I would
suggest that these are the three areas that must be pursued in open
science: research tools, data and interpreted data.

The current state of science more-often-than-not results in
information and tools being locked-down. This is not compatible with
the spirit of science. To be explicit: the spirit of science is the
discovery and free exchange of scientific knowledge. If software tools
in research must be paid for, if data cannot be shared, and if a
subscription is required to access journal contents, the spirit of
science is betrayed. In these scenarios, profit-making has become more
important than science itself.

Oldak Quill (oldakquill at gmail.com)

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