13 November 2008

Philippe Aigrain on OA - Berlin 6

"Instead of "open science", we should refer to it as commons-based science. What science isn't open, anyway?"

Commons-based science is developing quickly in terms of data, protocols, software, research instruments including materials.

There are some significant challenges for defining commons regimes. In terms of data, Aigrain posits it's a paradoxical challenge -- for software or text, we have defined appropriate regimes (ie., GPL, CC licenses or in broader view, copyright). When you look at data (some exceptions, data protections ie., sui generis provisions in Europe). There is no title of proprietary tied to data (again, there are some caveats, but speaking in the broad sense). When you want to define some sort of commons based on data the only power you have is either saying I want to use a commons or through limited power of disclosure (imposing terms of use). Aigrain believes regulated commons are needed.

For biological information and materials, there is a great debate as to whether the process should be copyleft or not, and also how to manage the materials. Biological information is normally worth nothing without the physical materials.

Methods and protocols are important as well (ie., Biobricks standards), dictating best practices and existing standards on the use of certain materials and what not.

Aigrain refers to Science Commons but with a caveat regarding our technical work. He emphasizes that the Semantic Web is only one way to do open science, and to not mistake for others. Aigrain speaks solely about our NeuroCommons work - creating an open source knowledge management system, initially implemented in neuroscience. What Aigrain fails to mention (and later comments about the need for) is that our SW work is only *one* component of our work - a very powerful and compelling one, but still just a piece of the puzzle.

Prior to the Science Commons shout out, he references indirectly our Biological Materials Transfer Work, as well as our work in data and copyright, though speaking about it broadly. But for some reason, may believe we are just working towards Open Science via the Semantic Web :) (I cleared this up during the Q&A)

Regardless, thanks to Philippe for the shoutout, both in directly pointing to us, and also pointing to our work indirectly ... We're agreeing loudly here in having a multi-faceted approach towards Open Science, since there are a number of very particular areas that call for a variety of solutions and approaches. Data, biological materials (genes, plasmids, lab mice, cell lines), and content are all different beasts - but incredibly important to scientific research and to the discussion. Thanks to Philippe for this engaging keynote.

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