Thursday, October 10, 2013

Victoria Schlesinger in Al Jazeera America on Open Data Pros and Cons

Got interviewed last week by Victoria Schlesinger about open science and open data issues and she has now posted her article: Scientists threatened by demands to share data | Al Jazeera America.  The article includes a discussion primarily about the push for more open release of data (and also a bit about papers) and some of the challenges associated with this push.  There are some good quotes in the article both from Schlesinger's text and from some key players in the field of data access including:

  • Christopher Lortie:  “There will be fantastic discoveries, and that’s all that really matters,” says Lortie.
  • From Schlesigner (a quote I do not agree with all of but some may like the metaphor): Sharing the results of scientific research is a bit like unveiling a newly built house, and scientists generally want it widely viewed, so the growth in open access publishing is a boon for most. Sharing data, on the other hand, is comparable to handing over the architectural plans and building materials used to construct the house. Others can scrutinize the quality of work and reuse the basic components to build their own house. That raises fears about discovery of errors and theft of future research ideas.
  • Heather Piwowar: “I think the public thinks that we’re all learning from everyone else’s work. That’s not true, and furthermore, it’s not true in ways that are even worse than you might think,” says Piwowar=
  • Me: “People are busy,” says Jonathan Eisen, a genetics professor at the University of California, Davis. “Everyone is overwhelmed with life and email and, in academia, trying to get funding and write papers. Whether something is open or not open is not highest on the priority list. There’s still need for making people aware of open science issues and making it easy for them to participate if they want to.”
  • Titus Brown: “My general attitude about open science is that I’d much rather be relevant. In science, that’s harder than anything else,” says Titus Brown, an assistant professor at Michigan State University who runs a genomics, evolution and development lab and practices open science. “If I make my work available, I have a higher chance of being relevant.” 
  • It has transformed the way we do science across biological scales, from the molecular all the way up to studying whole ecosystems,” says Carl Boettiger, a postdoctoral student at UC Santa Cruz. “The value is in enabling science to progress faster.”
The article is worth a look ...

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