Adventures in Ethics and Science

Session description: We will be talking about how the history of science and the history of the open-access movement have intersected. Steven Johnson touches on this theme in his latest book, The Invention of Air, in that 18th century British polymath Joseph Priestley was a strong advocate of publishing scientific data widely in order to create a greater dialogue between scientists. While Johnson only mentions this briefly in the case of Priestley, this theme runs strongly through the history of science and is what makes the debate over the patenting of genes or the availability of open-access journals such important topics today.

The session was led by John McKay and Eric Michael Johnson (@primatediaries).

Here’s the session wiki page.


An Open History of Science (John McKay and Eric Michael Johnson) at #scio10

Renaissance dependence on funders to get books printed. Some structural features are older than we imagine they are #scio10

Clusters of intellectuals in cities-> form societies to share info via more formal correspondence->journals #scio10

Journals as different from gazettes (more like newspapers) in 1600s. Gentleman farmers mail in observations->more scientific #scio10

Book reviews in early journals more like abstracts, gave books wider distribution #scio10

In 19th C professionalization & credentialization changed character of journals. Distinct disciplines coalescing, discpl lines drawn #scio10

Pop v. professional press->majority of literate folks became spectators to sci rather than participants #scio10

Growing move to hold off publishing ’til results seemed pretty irrefutable #scio10

If you don’t know immediate use of idea, better to sit on it->self-censorship to avoid confrontation #scio10

How open should science be? Connection to open societies, access, communication. (Need 1st to get 2nd & 3rd) #scio10

Institutional factors that throttle flee flow of ideas. Mertonian norms define science, its institutions. Secrecy as antithesis #scio10

Not simple binary betw open/closed society. Sci Am in 1950s by Hans Bethe w few lines abt bomb restricted info, US govt burned it #scio10

HR 801 would limit public access to peer reviewed lit, reverse NIH access policy, drive $ to publishers #scio10

1. work for free 2. review for free 3. sell back for cash (Sci publishing business model) #scio10

A publishing model that hurts scientists in developing world even more #scio10

Economic viability of OA journals? PLoS recently had to raise pub fees. But more ppl actually read your science #scio10

Is OA a sustainable pub model? (What larger structural features affect sustainability of pub models? I’m looking at you, tenure) #scio10

How to define whether a pub venture is worthwhile (profit vs. what it contributes to your sci discipline, e.g.) #scio10

Rich irony: computers have increased paper demand (if not demand for paper journals) #scio10

Lots of publishers now expting w hybrid model – authors pay extra to make paper OA immediately (cf. PNAS) #scio10

Rehashing the Nature vs. PLoS fisticuffs. Good times. #scio10

Early journals entirely funded by contributors, folded frequently. (Tokens weren’t sustainable, but the type might have been.) #scio10

RT @j_timmer: #scio10 Interesting thought: Federalist Papers were that era’s blogs, as were journals of local scientific societies.

Royal Society Proceedings used to be freely available online, now behind a paywall. Movement not all same direction. #scio10

Need to access sources in physical libraries is a steep barrier to access. #scio10

Sci interchange w countries behind Iron Current as US strategy to put pressure on them to become open societies. #scio10

Current US stance toward sci interchange w Iran, N Korea? Internal pressure for open society v potential leaks of weapons programs #scio10

Why not just write your article and post it on your website? Might narrow reach (since puts extreme premium on reputation) #scio10

Comments

  1. #1 Matthew Putman
    January 19, 2010

    This is actually something that really stuck with me in “Invention of Air”, which was a terrific book all around. I immediately thought how much Priestley would have appreciated blogging. I had the same thought when reading the Isaacson bio of Benjamin Franklin. Thinking of these two great inventors, and scientists, we are presented with many of the same issues of science publication, and even the patent system face now. Issues of peer review v. science blogging. Open source v. trade secrets and patents. I am always conflicted about this, and see a need for all of these, though this may just be a weakness on my part to commit entirely to new methods and ideologies. Looking at these examples makes me remember that they really are not new.

  2. #2 Ollitapio P.
    January 19, 2010

    That might be interesting. But I have I guess too much busy. Success in the Open History of Science.

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