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Brief running report on the Open Science Workshop at PSB09

6 January 2009 No Comment

Just a very brief rundown of what happened at the workshop this morning and some central themes that came out of it. The slides from the talks are available on Slideshare and recorded video from most of the talks (unfortunately not Dave de Roure‘s or Phil Bourne‘s at the moment) is available on my Mogulus channel (http://www.mogulus.com/cameron_neylon – click on Video on Demand and select the PSB folder). The commentary from the conference is available in the PSB 2009 Friendfeed room.

For me there were three main themes that came through from the talks and the panel session. The first was one that has come up in many contexts but most recently in Phil Bourne and Lyn Fink’s perspectives article in PLos Computational Biology; the need for persistent identity tokens to track people’s contributions, and a need to re-think how citation works, and what citations are used for.

The second theme was a need for more focus on specific issues, including domain specific problems or barriers, where “greasing the wheels” could make a direct difference to people’s ability to do their research. Solving specific problems that are not necessarily directly associated with “openness” as an ideological movement. Similar ideas were raised in discussion of tool and service development, the need to build the user into the process of service design and solve the problems users have, rather than those the developer may think they ought to be worrying about.

But probably the main theme that came through for me was the need to identify and measure real outcomes from adopting more open practice. This was the central theme of Heather‘s talk but also came up strongly in the panel session. We have little if any quantitative information on the benefits of open practice and  there are still relatively few examples of complete examples of open research projects. More research and more aggregation of examples will help here but there is a desperate need for numbers and details to help funders, policy makers, and researchers themselves to make informed choices about what approaches are worth adopting, and indeed which are not.

The session was a good conversation, with some great talks, and lots of people involved throughout. Even with a three hour slot we ran 30 minutes over and could have kept talking for quite a bit longer. We will keep posting material over the next few days so please continue the discussion over at Friendfeed and on the workshop website.

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