Open science: Preaching what I practice

22 January 2015

share this:

door_open_book_science_fiction_data_mind_face_AI_intelligence_creativeOpen science isn’t one thing – it is a set of practices that range from making sure your papers are openly accessible (which is relatively easy), to open notebook science, which makes the process open – and not just the results. Open notebook science is, of course, much more demanding.

I was very pleased to be invited to Science, Innovation and Society: Achieving Responsible Research and Innovation last month. I was asked to speak on the topic of open science – a great opportunity to preach what I practice. Or at least try to practice. Doing good science research is hard, but making that work open imposes an extra layer of work.

In my short introduction during the open science panel I suggested three levels of open science. Here are those slides:

In my view we should all be practising level 0 open science – but don’t underestimate the challenge of even this minimal set of practices; making data sets and source code, etc, available, with the aim of enabling our work to be reproducible, is not straightforward.

Level 0 open science is all one way, from your lab to the world. Level 1 introduces public engagement via blogging and social media, and the potential for feedback and two-way dialogue. Again this is challenging, both because of the time cost and the scary – if you’re not used to it – prospect of inviting all kinds of questions and comments about your work.  In my experience the effort is totally worthwhile – those questions often make me really think, and in ways that questions from other researchers working in the same field do not.

Level 2 builds on levels 0 and 1 by adding open notebook science. This takes real courage because it opens up the process, complete with all the failures as well as successes, the bad ideas as well as the good; open notebook science exposes science for what it really is – a messy non-linear process full of uncertainty and doubts, with lots of blind alleys and very human dramas within the team. Have I done open notebook science? No. I’ve considered it for recent projects, but ruled it out because we didn’t have the time and resources or, if I’m honest, team members who were fully persuaded that it was a good idea.

Open science comes at a cost. It slows down projects. But I think that is a good, even necessary, thing. We should be building those costs into our project budgets and work programmes, and if that means increasing the budget by 25% then so be it. After all, what is the alternative? Closed science..? Closed science is irresponsible science.

At the end of the conference the Rome Declaration on Responsible Research and Innovation was published.

tags: , , , ,

Alan Winfield is Professor in robotics at UWE Bristol. He communicates about science on his personal blog.
Alan Winfield is Professor in robotics at UWE Bristol. He communicates about science on his personal blog.

Related posts :

Meet the Oystamaran

Working directly with oyster farmers, MIT students are developing a robot that can flip heavy, floating bags of oysters, helping the shellfish to grow and stay healthy.
08 December 2021, by

Exploring ROS2 with a wheeled robot – #4 – Obstacle avoidance

In this post you’ll learn how to program a robot to avoid obstacles using ROS2 and C++. Up to the end of the post, the Dolly robot moves autonomously in a scene with many obstacles, simulated using Gazebo 11.
06 December 2021, by

Team builds first living robots that can reproduce

AI-designed Xenobots reveal entirely new form of biological self-replication—promising for regenerative medicine.
02 December 2021, by

Exploring ROS2 using wheeled Robot – #3 – Moving the robot

In this post you’ll learn how to publish to a ROS2 topic using ROS2 C++. We are moving the robot Dolly robot, simulated using Gazebo 11.
30 November 2021, by

An inventory of robotics roadmaps to better inform policy and investment

Silicon Valley Robotics in partnership with the Industrial Activities Board of the IEEE Robotics and Automation Society, is compiling an up to date resource list of various robotics, AIS and AI roadmaps, national or otherwise.
29 November 2021, by

Robots can be companions, caregivers, collaborators — and social influencers

People are hardwired to respond socially to technology that presents itself as even vaguely social. While this may sound like the beginnings of a Black Mirror episode, this tendency is precisely what allows us to enjoy social interactions with robots and place them in caregiver, collaborator or companion roles.
26 November 2021, by

©2021 - ROBOTS Association


©2021 - ROBOTS Association