open access

A Setback for Open Science?

"Open Science" took a real walloping this week. First, Gina Kolata from the New York Times published an article exposing the increasingly predatory nature of open access journals. Then, Evegeny Mosorov, author of The Net Delusion: The Dark Side of Internet Freedom, published an essay over at The Baffler that quite deconstructs the "open source" movement along with the guy who created it, conference producer Tim O Reilly. And Tuesday, we heard that Mendeley, a portal that opens up access to scientific research is to be bought out by the publishing giant, Reed Elsevier for about $70 million, a move that one commenter compared to "Haliburton buying Greenpeace."

I was introduced to the open science movement by Joseph Jackson, organizer of the Open Science Summit. My first question was how would business models even function in an environment of giving things away for free. I’ve always been leary of such offers. Everything comes at a price. “It’s free as in freedom, not free beer,” Joseph was quick to tell me at a the conference pre-reception held at his DIY bio lab in Sunnyvale where he handed out . . . . free beer.

Who can argue with “open?” It’s such a great term, as Mosorov argues in his essay. It's a big tent that can house a large crowd. Going to Jackson’s conferences, I’ve got to know that crowd a bit. The open access movement seems to be at the core of open science, and is certainly not without its appeal. What scientist doesn’t want free access to all the research that exists in a field? In our first video interview, we had Jonathan Eisen to the program just after he won the Benjamin Franklin award for open science. He’s the managing editor of one of the PLoS journals and brother to the co-foudner of the pioneering open access publication, Michael Eisen. When we interviewed Jonathan, he’d just uploaded all his dad’s research papers to Mendeley. Why? So anyone could read them. And for free. To the Eisen brothers, "paywall" is an evil term. and the Evolution of Peer Review with Richard Price

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Richard Price, Bio and Contact Info

Chapters (Move marker to advance)

0:50 Connections between entrepreneurship and philosophy

6:19 How did you get a ".edu" address?

10:04 Difference from other platforms (Mendeley, Google Scholar)

14:37 Peer review is evolving

24:17 What are the privacy challenges for the new model?

26:42 Site numbers

28:42 Can research truly be sped up?

33:34 What's your ultimate goal for the site?

38:46 How do you monetize scientific content?

43:47 What is the role of philosophy in our age of science?

When one thinks of philosophers from Oxford, one thinks of John Locke tucked away in a picturesque garden writing and thinking away. Or, from the last century, such folks as Isaiah Berlin or Sir Bernard Williams. Richard Price offers a new image. A Ph D and Prize Fellow at All Souls College, Richard wrote his thesis on the philosophy of perception and how to draw the line between visible and non-visible properties. Then he went into business, moved to San Francisco, and raised millions of dollars for an online gig. If you'd like to read his thesis you can easily do so by logging on to, a site for sharing research that he founded.

Price says the site accelerates academic research by allowing academics (and non-academic researchers) to share their work, even before it's published in a standard journal. We talk to Richard about the features of the site and what makes it different from some of the other sharing platforms such as Mendeley and Google Scholar. Richard also shares how he became a businessman, saying that "there are connections between entrepreneurship and philosophy." One of my favorite questions of late has been what role philosophers play in our present age of science. With an open style and a pleasant agreeableness, Price is happy to speak up for his fellow philosophers.

A Revolution in Data Gathering: John Wilbanks

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John Wilbanks, Senior Fellow , The Kauffman Foundation Bio and Contact Info

Listen (7:31) Disconnect between informed consent and digital technology

Listen (9:26) Consent to Research Project

Listen (5:59) Who will be the early volunteers to share their data?

Listen (11:46) Access2Research petition at White House-now what?

Listen (3:59) Can you describe the nature of the legal threats you've received?

Listen (3:33) Would you donate your child's data to research?

Listen (4:23) Data gathering undergoing a revolution

"I like making it easier to share things," says John Wilbanks, a senior fellow at the Kauffman Foundation. Also a member of the Board of Directors for Sage Bionetworks, Wilbanks has been involved in numerous projects having to do with opening up important content and data. Now he runs the Consent to Research Project where he is designing systems that allow people to donate their research to data. Wilbanks discusses the disconnect that is emerging between informed consent and the realities of the digital revolution. In this comprehensive interview he talks about the Access2Research petition he recently spearheaded to extend the NIH's open access policy to the other federal agencies.

Why does John like making it easier to share things? Hear about his past and find out his thoughts on data gathering in the future.

Listen to Wilbanks' TED talk

1st Hand Access to Research: William Gunn, Mendeley

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William Gunn, Head of Academic Outreach, Mendeley Bio and Contact Info

Listen (5:18) Mendeley and the system of science

Listen (5:24) What is altmetrics?

Listen (3:45) Not the publisher, but the discovery tool

Listen (7:28) Desktop manager and other advantages over Google Scholar

Listen (4:04) The recent Finch Report

Listen (3:37) What's your vision for the future of publishing?

Listen (2:46) Getting caught in Hurricane Katrina

William Gunn is head of academic outreach for Mendeley, the new tool for sharing research that everyone is talking about. Introducing us to the concept of altmetrics, William presents the Mendeley desktop manager and other features of Mendeley which separate it from Google Scholar. Mr. Gunn discusses his vision for the future of open access publishing and shares a personal story of evacuating New Orleans during Katrina.

Access Is a Right: Open Science Summit 2011

This last weekend “open science” evangelist Joseph Jackson and his colleagues put on the 2nd annual Open Science Summit (we were a media sponsor). The conference was held at the Computer History Museum in Mountain View California. Midway through the first day, a small unmanned robot appeared at the door. The little fellow stopped, looked around, then proceeded directly toward the stage forcing Mr. Jackson to pick up the pesky bugger and take him out of the room.