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    • CommentRowNumber1.
    • CommentAuthorMark C. Wilson
    • CommentTimeNov 2nd 2012

    I highly recommend Michael Nielsen’s book Reinventing Discovery, which gives an excellent overview of many of the issues we discuss here, but in the much wider scientific context. He “wrote this book with the goal of lighting an almighty fire under the scientific community”.

    He strongly advocates a more open approach to science. It seems that the barriers are mainly caused by the incentive structure for professional scientists, leading to very low participation in any activity that takes energy and time away from the primary goal of producing yet more papers (that almost no one will read). Given that most researchers are not in direct peril of losing their current tenured position (I realize that doesn’t describe everyone, but it is a large fraction, surely), this seems overstated. Why have so few tried blogging, Wikipedia, lobbying for open access, signing the Elsevier boycott, … ? Is it mostly conservatism, laziness, delusion that one’s work is really so important that nothing should come before it …? I don’t get it. I understand that we could improve the situation by changing the norms of the profession so that different types of contributions are valued (Math Overflow, software, …, not just refereed papers). But even in the current reward system, I don’t understand why more people don’t devote at least a little time to trying to bring about a more open and efficient system. Any ideas?

    • CommentRowNumber2.
    • CommentAuthornad
    • CommentTimeNov 7th 2012
    • (edited Nov 7th 2012)

    Given that most researchers are not in direct peril of losing their current tenured position (I realize that doesn’t describe everyone, but it is a large fraction, surely), this seems overstated.

    citation from Real world economics blog:

    “The fact is, according to the Coalition on the Academic Workforce, of the nearly 1.8 million faculty members and instructors who made up the 2009 instructional workforce in degree-granting two- and four-year institutions of higher education in the United States, more than 1.3 million (75.5%) were employed in contingent positions off the tenure track, either as part-time or adjunct faculty members, full-time non-tenure-track faculty members, or graduate student teaching assistants.”

    • CommentRowNumber3.
    • CommentAuthorMark C. Wilson
    • CommentTimeNov 7th 2012

    This is interesting - however “researcher” (in the narrow sense of research being a major part of one’s job description) doesn’t describe most of those people.