Open Access News

News from the open access movement

Friday, June 06, 2008

Interview with OpenWetWare

Donna Wentworth, Voices from the future of science: Lorrie LeJeune from OpenWetWare, Science Commons blog, June 3, 2008.

... OpenWetWare is generating a lot of interest in open research and especially in replicating the model across many different disciplines in science. Of course, in many cases, there are factors that discourage sharing pre-publication information. Would you say part of what OWW does is help demonstrate what can be shared, as well as the benefits of “baking in” sharing?

Yes, exactly. Many researchers are not opposed to sharing their work, and they do so regularly in the privacy of their labs and their departments. They generally draw the line at sharing with the world until the article is published, and they can get the attribution for the work. Attribution is the key to being successful in academia: getting tenure, getting the grant money, getting the grad students, etc. Most scientists have been taught that to talk about one’s work prematurely opens the door to “scooping,” or having your ideas stolen by another researcher, who will do the work and publish the results before you do and get what should have been your credit.

How does OWW combat that perception?

We make the argument that if you share your information publicly, it is in fact attributed to you, and if someone at some point in the future tries to present your work as theirs, you can point to a trail of content you posted. Granted, there are complexities–especially in the world of wikis where people can edit other people’s stuff. But if you post it, there’s a record that can be traced. ...