The increasing demand of participation in the production of scientific knowledge from the citizens has lead to the concept of Open Science. This movement has been widely accepted among scientists worldwide, yet it is not actually practiced (Here you find a comprehensive guide to open science made by De Gruyter Open).
Indeed, open data could represent the path through which open science can be put into action.
What is open data?
Open data means to put at everyone disposal all the raw data which are produced during scientific research. Those are called the intermediate products of scientific research, and could be collected into web platforms so that anyone all around the world can use them to produce their own results or for the falsification of someone else’s results.
Why should a scientist do that?
As a matter of fact, right now there are not many reasons for a scientist to open his data. Actually some kind of incentive must be found. It isn’t that much difficult: Academia is a reputation economy, which means that is a system not driven by money or desire for progress, but by individual reputation (you can find a survey about that in this paper of the Social Science Research Network). Therefore, giving to data sharing a formal recognition would be enough. Easy, isn’t it?
So, why not?
The main concerns expressed by scientists are about the use of the data “against” the author itself. Data can be used for not-genuine falsification, for “scooping” the author (that means to publish the results before the one who collected data) or for non-ethical purposes. These concerns are actually licit, but could be easily avoided through a robust legislation. For example defining very specifically what the data can be used for, or that the author has the right to publish his results first (embargo).
What about the future?
Data will be considered as a knowledge commons, i.e. a goon that can be accessed by everyone and whose consumption is not-rivalry: its disposal does not depend on how many people use it. That concept opens the path to crowd science! Everyone can have a leading role to the creation of new knowledge. Isn’t that awesome?
So, tell us… will you open your data??
(Posted by Giulia, Lara and Elisa)