Friday, March 31, 2017

Open research

Recent news (1) that the European Commission will soon join the Bill & Melinda Gates foundation to launch an open research publication platform is encouraging. Increasingly, university based research, peer reviewed or not, are shown to be suffering from inherent biases - both of the author and her peers. Academics, tenured or not, seem to have a clean objective function - driven largely by volume and in the vast publication enterprise, replicability is certainly an afterthought. Open research, thus, has to expand beyond conventional research if it has to capture useful insights from those who never climbed the high mountain.


Research and manufacturing have become synonymous. The latter takes raw materials and create commoditized widgets and the former takes raw data and create research papers with no new insights and if there were, they are typically not replicatable. The peers, who approve of the production, seem to form a colony of conformists, ready to approve papers that support the highly subscribed ideas and marginalize anything new. Academics and politicians share many common characteristics as both of them live in a bubble with their "peers," and have little interest to ever look outside the window to see how the world actually works.


Open research, if it encompasses the world at large, providing an avenue for new ideas to float through, could be a game changer. But then, those behind it are all controlled by their "peers."


(1) http://www.sciencemag.org/news/2017/03/european-commission-considering-leap-open-access-publishing