Featured Project: Transforming the way we publish research

from Jarrett Byrnes

This morning’s featured project, Transforming the way we publish research is a truly ambitious project. Daniel Mietchen isn’t trying to just conduct a simple research project, but rather he’s trying to affect a revolution within science.

Daniel’s project is trying to affect a huge and important cultural shift in science – one that will only improve the quality and speed of the work we do. He’s trying to create a repository for open data collected in real time.

As a postdoc at the National Center for Ecological Analysis and Synthesis I’m awash every day in talk of data sharing, open data, and the ways that science is improved and actually sped up when done in as open a manner as possible. Believe it or not, this kind of thinking is a huge cultural shift for most scientists, who are used to burying their life’s work in closed notebooks, publishing only the data that they think useful to the world. Indeed, once papers are published, getting access to the data is often a huge problem. Recently, we’ve seen the rise of awesome projects like DataOne, Dryad, and more trying to give a space for scientists to archive and aggregate their data in standardized formats after publication.

Daniel wants to go one step further – to accelerate science into the future. Forget opening your data after publication. Why not open it now? Right now. Right as that data comes in?

This project is exciting because it is trying to affect such a huge leap in the culture of science. As such, it’s perfect for #SciFund – a project that is trying to dive a huge leap in the culture of science funding. Quite the pairing! Heck, they’re practically kissing cousins!

Indeed, I’d argue that #SciFund is an attempt to make projects open to the public BEFORE data collection has even begun. Your initial ideas and funding solicitation are open to the world. I’ve also noticed that many of the most successful projects are also those that link funders up with a project blog that is going to be updated as the project goes forward. So, again, even before data collection, the methods and observations of the scientists are out there in the open. It’s all part of one big process of evolution that we’re currently grappling with in science.

The open collection of data in real time will one day be a key part of this evolution. Daniel explains at length why this is so important in hish proposal and beautiful video. So check it out and go help open science!