Open Access News

News from the open access movement

Saturday, January 06, 2007

OA as a remedy for narrow scientific orthodoxies

Alessandro Giuliani, Open Access as an antidote for the self-referential character of science, a presentation at Institutional archives for research : experiences and projects in Open Access, (Rome, November 30 - December 1, 2006).

Abstract:   If we are able to look beside the enthusiastic claims of a bright future and incredible success of nowadays science that fill the media, it is not difficult to recognize a deep crisis of current scientific thought. The production of innovative drugs experiences a dramatic fall since twenty years and we do not have any reliable basic principles to cope with complex problems on ecological scale. Moreover, the completion of human genome enterprise definitively falsified the premises from which that project was born: the so called molecular biology central dogma is untenable and, far to be the key to the unravelling of life mysteries, the genome project was a big lesson of humility for all of us.

Given these premises, an increasing number of scientists all over the world is involved in a deep re-thinking of the very bases of our scientific knowledge. This re-thinking has many facets, here I would like to discuss about an evident pathology of science with respect to other human activities: its increasing self-referential character that poses strong constraints to its innovative power. Basically only scientists of a specific field can judge about the merit of the work of other scientists of the same (or very related) fields. This gives rise to very self-referential cliques constraining science investigation into a very narrow "orthodoxy" with no room for real innovation.

Expanding the basis of the readers of scientific works by means of Open Access policies could be of help to try and face this evident limitation.