Understanding Open Science

8/8/13Follow @wilbanks

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these problems.  And the environment in which the life sciences exist is changing to favor that open approach. The US policies on public access to literature and data trend towards allowing us to create the wiki of knowledge that is implicit in what we already know. Emergent collaboration projects from pharma represent an acknowledgement that pre-competitive spaces in biology can actually increase the power of the company in chemistry. And the advent of cheap data, available to citizen and scientist alike, presents the chance of that massive increase in sample size that has been missing.

The life sciences, and the body, are too complex to be effectively comprehended by one organization, or company, but that also means we can’t have overly simplistic understanding of how openness fits into the picture. Open might mean public domain, or liberal licensing, or just not withholding. Open needs to be reconciled with privacy (an under-acknowledged challenge). And it needs technical infrastructure, policy infrastructure, boundary organizations, and new norms to flourish.

In my posts for FasterCures over the coming year, I’m going to try and break down “open science” into a set of digestible segments in the hopes of provoking a conversation about how moving to open – where appropriate – can start us towards realizing the goal of cures, faster.

[Editor's note:  This post first appeared on the FasterCures website.]

John Wilbanks is a data commons expert and advocate who has spent his career working to advance open content, open data, and open innovation systems. He is a senior fellow at FasterCures and chief commons officer at Sage Bionetworks. Follow @wilbanks

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  • Robert Jones

    It was interesting to see David Baltimore was also on the FastCures website video. He wasn’t very fond of open data when it came to Imanishi Kari and Margot O’Toole. Margot knew a secret about that Nature paper David put his name on. It had false information. David wanted Margot to zip it.

    Still, I think this is a good idea. Increase the transparency of all research, including clinical trials. I wonder what the Xconomists think of this. They aren’t exactly cut from the same cloth as Jonas Salk. I think of Xconomists as Xscientists.