Cracking open the scientific process

January 17, 2012 | Source: New York Times

Reinventing Discovery: The New Era of Networked Science, by Michael Nielsen

Peer review can take months, journal subscriptions can be prohibitively costly, and a handful of gatekeepers limit the flow of information. It is an ideal system for sharing knowledge, said the quantum physicist Michael Nielsen, Ph.D.,  only “if you’re stuck with 17th century technology.”

Dr. Nielsen, who left a successful science career to write Reinventing Discovery: The New Era of Networked Science, and other advocates for “open science” say science can accomplish much more, much faster, in an environment of friction-free collaboration over the Internet.

Open-access archives and journals like arXiv and the Public Library of Science (PLoS) have sprung up in recent years. And a social networking site called ResearchGate — where scientists can answer one another’s questions, share papers and find collaborators — is rapidly gaining popularity.

On Thursday, researchers will hold the sixth annual ScienceOnline conference.