This report has attempted to draw together and synthesise evidence and opinion associated with data-intensive open science from a wide range of sources. The potential impact of data-intensive open science on research practice and research outcomes, is both substantive and far-reaching.
There are implications for funding organisations, for research and information communities and for higher education institutions.
The original specification for the work was highly selective in its choice of areas to study, and this Report addresses only three of these areas in any depth:
- open science including open notebook science : making methodologies, data and results available on the Internet, through transparent working practices
- citizen science including volunteer computing : where volunteers who may not have scientific training, perform or manage research-related tasks such as observation, measurement or computation
- predictive science : data-driven science which enables the forecasting, anticipation or prediction of specific outcomes.
Synthetic science (research which combines science and engineering methods to design and build novel biological entities), and Immersive science (used to describe research involving virtual and simulated worlds), are referenced, but require more detailed examination. Fuller definitions of the terms and areas examined in this study have been provided in Section 3. In addition, the Report addresses data informatics and the supporting role of libraries for these particular aspects of open science.
The work was undertaken through a mix of desk research, including analysis from the peer-reviewed literature, presentations, selective blogs, wiki content, social network discussion, and by consultation with a small group of leading thinkers and researchers. The Report was also informed by presentations and talks given by the author during 2009.
The report is positioned as a consultative document, which it is hoped will stimulate and contribute to community discussion in the UK, but also fuel the open science debate on the global stage. Whilst many questions have been asked here, they will require fuller articulation and investigation in other fora. The economic implications will require detailed analysis and the societal benefits should be reviewed and evaluated. The consultative questions are clearly indicated in boxes in the text and are reproduced in full in the Executive Summary.