As you might be aware of already, the Open Science Summit 2011 is coming up this weekend, with a host of very exciting speakers and surely an abundance of heated discussions on the theme of making science more open. While the range of topics that will be addressed at this year’s event (see program) is quite broad, there is one in particular that I’m especially looking forward to – the introduction of the ‘social’ aspect to science.
What I’m referring to is that even if one sidesteps the issue of open access, there still remains the trend of science being conducted by ‘closed’ entities, be it individuals, research groups or large-scale collaborations. Regardless of how large any such entity might be (some collaborative projects span tens of universities and hundreds of scholars), it is usually the case that research will still be performed from start to finish within the entity itself and without much feedback from the rest of the community. It is only after a corresponding publication will be published that any kind of ‘social’ involvement can begin. But even that is not the biggest issue!
As can be seen from this comparison between blog posts and letters to the editor, there are easy ways of voicing one’s opinion in the science domain, yet, as noted by the author, where blogging (or any other social approach for that matter) falls short is its value in terms of career building and pumping up one’s CV. Now it would be unreasonable to ask of scientists to ignore their careers and devote their lives to science alone, what we need instead is a way of introducing a structure of rewards for social engagement in science. The idea has been quietly gathering momentum in the recent years, as exemplified by Kathleen Fitzpatrick’s recently published book Planned Obsolescence (see this blog post on Inside Higher Ed for a very interesting interview) and a session on microattribution at this year’s Science Online London Conference. If this trend continues at the current rate, we can be optimistic about a scientist’s level of social engagement becoming a valid professional metric in academic institutions rather sooner than later.
All that being said, if you’re attending the event, make sure you enjoy all the talks, but also make sure to take a look at the different poster/app presentations during the breaks which will be running throughout the weekend. If not, you can still follow all the talks and discussions via a live stream that will be available at http://fora.tv/live/open_science/open_science_summit_2011. Hopefully, the organizers will be able to stream some of the off-stage presentations as well, so you might get a glimpse of PaperCritic there. I will post an update on my Twitter account with more specific details if I find out when our presentation will be streamed.