Open Research: Rethinking Scientific Collaboration

Conference Date: 
Monday, March 26, 2018 (All day) to Wednesday, March 28, 2018 (All day)
Scientific Areas: 


The number of researchers worldwide has grown a hundredfold over the past century. While generally a positive development, this rapid expansion of science has led to familiar problems: a flood of papers that are not read, theories that are not tested, and experiments that are not repeated; massive herding behavior around a narrow research agenda, driven by a handful of high-impact journals; an extractive publishing industry turning public funding into private profit; countless scientists (particularly in developing countries) that do not participate in cutting-edge science for lack of insider knowledge; and countless projects that are not completed for lack of skilled students or collaborators.

These are the symptoms of a major communication bottleneck within the scientific community. In a nutshell, the channels we rely on to share our ideas and findings peer-reviewed journal articles and conference proceedingsare inadequate to the scale and scope of modern science. We need more efficient ways to provide feedback and make contributions to our each others work, in ways that incentivize cooperation and quality over competition and quantity. We need a better scholarly communication model, and better tools to implement it.

Based on the successful precedent set by the software development community, we believe that open research the practice of making ongoing projects and partial results available for use and modification from anybody could be that model. Open-sourcing our work would create a more level playing field and lower barriers to entry for students and outsiders, thus creating new opportunities for discovery. It would foster the real-time sharing of ideas between geographically scattered groups, thus favoring collaboration and convergence over competition and idiosyncrasy. It would reduce the influence of editorial and publishing monopolies and counter the current citation frenzy. And, importantly, it would enable a new credit attribution model based on contributions made rather than references accrued.

This workshop will bring together a diverse group of scientists committed to open-source  science. Together, we will review the lessons learnt from various pioneering initiatives, such as the Polymath project and Data for Democracy. We will discuss the opportunity for a new tool, similar to the software development platform GitHub, which would enable online collaborative science. We will consider the challenges associated with the adoption of such a tool by our peers and discuss ways to overcome them. Finally, we will sketch a roadmap for the actual development of that tool.

To register for this event, please click here.


Scientific Organizers:

  • Marc Geiller, Perimeter Institute
  • Jonah Miller, Perimeter Institute
  • Ashley Milsted, Perimeter Institute
  • Matteo Smerlak, Perimeter Institute
  • Erik Schnetter, Perimeter Institute
  • Bapu Vaitla, Harvard University