Open science: why is it so hard?

OK, I am becoming obsessed with Lemire’s blog. One more post from there now, and back to my own work I go. Incidentally, the book by Michael Nielsen discussed below is sitting in my queue of e-books I really should be reading yesterday. (Once again, I have snipped most of the text of the post, for which I strongly recommend that you visit the source.) And before I go, let me obey Lemire’s injunction and repeat: scholarship is not a publishing business.

Open science: why is it so hard?:



Thus, a much more significant vision is Nielsen’s open science. Michael Nielsen is arguing for a culture shift in science: from a science obsessed with individual performance (and publications) to a science culture resembling more that of open source software or wikipedia.

I fear however that despite all the (well deserved) press that Michael Nielsen’s latest book has been getting, too few people understand the importance of this shift. It is not about becoming hippies. It is not a socialist utopia. On the contrary, the system we have right now is akin to an highly regulated industry. All power is in the hands of the government and a few large organizations (universities, publishers) working in tandem. The barrier to entry is maintained artificially high. Open science is really about creating “open markets” with freer exchanges. It has the potential to boost our collective productivity by orders of magnitude through the removal of unneeded friction.


And we finally get a hint at why it is so hard it is to open up science: the business of science has become intertwined with businesses like the publishing business. ACM has to speak both as an association of computing professionals, and as a publishing house.

What should be a critical support service, the publication of results, ends up driving much of our culture. The journals become the science. The medium becomes the message.

In effect, we have too much organizational scarring tissue in science. It could be that we need to reboot the system. As a starting point, we should collectively recognize the problem. Repeat after me: scholarship is not a publishing business.

Further reading:


The ACM charges the authors of any conference for the publication of proceedings. However, they do not require payment for publishing in their journals: instead they request page charges.

How to revise research papers after receiving harsh reviews

I just learned of Daniel Lemire’s blog from a post by Noam Nisan on Google+. The following post from Lemire’s blog is so good I had to fight the temptation to quote its entirety here. I heartily recommend it, and the whole blog, to you, gentle reader. Do not waste time; go visit it now.

How to revise research papers after receiving harsh reviews:

Whether you submit your work scientific journal or just post it on a blog, you can expect to receive harsh criticism from time to time. Sometimes you are facing arrogant or ignorant readers. Other times, your work is genuinely flawed. My own work is frequently flawed, as you know if you read this blog.

Over time, I have learned that even if the reviewer is wrong, spending time to careful respond can be tremendously useful. If you are 100% correct, then you get to build up your confidence and can later answer similar criticism hastily. Very often, however, you did not do everything perfectly. Maybe your arguments and data are correct, but you might have presented them better.

There are specific strategies to deal with harsh reviews:

(Snipped. Excellent practical advice is here, but I really think you should go read the original post!)

(Via Daniel Lemire’s blog)

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