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Ten commandments of open science

No, this is not “Ten simple rules of open science” (although it could be nice if we could write such article and publish it at PLoS Computational Biology) – this is the list of TEN COMMANDMENTS of open science:

1. You shall give everything away free (do not over-protect your research); do not patent – sell your expertise.

Release source code under open source license, publish OA articles and do not abuse intellectual property rights.

2. You shall change the world, not just sell things.

Seek for making contribution to the scientific knowledge; do not choose trendy research topics if results may contribute a little.

3. You shall be sharing, aware of social responsibility.

Explain your work in simple language.

4. You shall be creative.

Do not repeat someone’s old experiments using new technology.

5. You shall tell all: have no secrets, endorse transparency and the free flow of information; all scientists should collaborate and interact.

Follow the practice of Open Notebook Science.

6. You shall not work: have no fixed 9 to 5 job, but engage in smart, dynamic, flexible communication.

Get familiar with bursty work and “just-in-time” research – do not let your research fall into any schema.

7. You shall return to school: engage in permanent education.

No step of scientific career should prevent you from asking stupid questions.

8. You shall act as an enzyme: work not only on the research, but trigger new forms of scientific collaboration.

Any kind of communication channel is a potential way of collaboration.

9. You shall leave research silently.

Do not make yourself impossible to replace.

10. You shall be the state: companies should be in partnership with the state.

Be independent – do not endorse technology transfer centers.

Sounds nice isn’t it? Now, let’s re-label things. These ten commandments above are almost exact copy (the original list is to found for example here) of Olivier Malnuit’s ten commandments for the liberal communist. In isolation, many of the above are quite reasonable. All of them together, stamped as “commandments for the liberal communist”, trigger violent or at least negative responses in many places.

Why did I put it in here? Because the label of “liberal communism” or “cyber-communism” is used to describe Open Access initiative here in Poland. Not frequently, not so visibly, but you can guess how difficult is to get through such label.

I will write my comments in another post, but I’m of course interested in yours.

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3 comments

  • Kevin T. Keith

    Very good points. The dreary red-baiting tactics of scary labels as an assault on decency or just plain good thinking are a plague, and hardly confined to science.

    But a couple of substantive reactions as well:

    "Change the world" is not necessarily the best advice. It's a great thing to do if you can, but remember that the vast majority of scholarship is not world-changing. Someone has to fill in the details. Read any science journal: vast volumes of small-scale fact-grubbing that explain how things work but do not dramatically support or disprove a theory. That's important work.

    "Be creative" is also good, but replication is the heart of proof, as all scientists acknowledge – and too many granting institutions won't support it, journals won't publish it, some labs won't even allow it. Replicating known results, and extending them into new labs or new technologies, is also important work.

    "Have no job" is a luxury that only the rich, or the exceedingly lucky, can afford. "Independent scholar" means "unemployed". "Collaborative multitasking" is not a realistic option for many or most. A lot of the "new economy" slogans are just romanticizing; strong support for science, including well-endowed labs and secure jobs with good salaries and benefits, is a better goal for science, scientists, and society. (Applies to other scholarly fields as well.)

    And finally a tiny plug for capitalism: "give everything away" and "have no secrets" ought to be the norm in human-needs fields like medicine, energy, etc.; but there's room for market-oriented research (not publicly funded) as well. It does have strengths that can be utilized if it is not allowed to trample human values, lives, and necessities.

  • Paweł Szczęsny

    Kevin, thanks. Indeed, some of the points could be phrased better or completely replaced (I agree with all that you've wrote), but I wanted to change the original as little as possible for the purpose of the experiment.

    Actually, in science anything written in stone is a bad idea anyway.

  • Claudia Koltzenburg

    > ?Independent scholar? means ?unemployed?.

    this depends on the field and country you're looking at, I guess. There are quite a few independent scholars who are doing their research, yes, independently, i.e. they are not paid for doing their research (and precisely for the sake of independence they may well have decided to not accept any payment for it before publication), yet independent researchers may well be employed – like myself, in fact