For a long time, the spread of scientific research has been severely restricted by what can only be called inefficient intermediaries that have created a subculture that is supposedly based on prestige, in which publishers have managed to position themselves in a central role.

In practice, much of this culture is based on traditional ways of doing things that impact on access to research funds (with scientists obliged to spend half their time writing proposals), to the development of reputation systems that often shape the careers of researchers or the prestige of the institutions where they work, as well as providing the wrong incentives for them, while limiting access to scientific publications to people who can afford to pay expensive subscriptions.

Movements such as Open Science, which promotes open access to publications, have resulted in many journals now demanding significant payments from authors and the institutions they work for if they want their work to be kept available (over $11,000, for example, in the case of Nature).

Decentralized Science, or DeSci, is the scientific output application based on the decentralization principles of the so-called Web 3, which uses tools such as blockchain, DAOs, NFTs or smart contracts to solve real problems in the research and publication process.

What are these problems? Firstly, the system used to obtain research funding, which is governed by inadequate impact metrics and calculated not just on the quality of papers or their authors, but on the supposed prestige of the journals in which they are published. This adulterated meritocracy allows certain publishers to position themselves in a position of absolute dominance from which they can dictate their own rules, while also taking advantage of the free labor of thousands of researchers who review the manuscripts sent to them.

In a decentralized system, researcher can retain the rights to their work, as well as objectively assess its significance, earn tokens for working as a reviewer, or use formats that allow, for example, data files to be linked by appropriate traceability to the research generated, thus enabling its replication.

A guide to DeSci by neuroscientist Sarah Hamburg, who sought to develop a methodology for wearable owners to retain control of the data generated by their devices while enabling its use for research — and who wrote a short letter to Natureto try to get more researchers to join this movement — accurately describes the basis of the idea and its possible problems or limitations, and adds at the end a list of resources that explain the idea in greater depth, as well as inviting people to join up.

Through the use of smart contracts, researchers can be rewarded for work ranging from publication to blind reviews, which generates incentives for these activities, in addition to a more objective system of metrics than the current “lists of journals considered prestigious”. This is an effective way of putting Web 3 protocols in to practice in the face of an activity, science, which should be considered an open access public good, instead of imprisoning it in a proprietary model under the control of publishers.

An interesting idea. We will see how much and how fast it gains traction within the scientific community, currently stuck in an isomorphism that, for fear of losing prestige or access, imprisons it within the confines of tradition.

http://www.enriquedans.com
Contributor

Recently Published

Key Takeaways: The fight against poverty and inequality is resuming with tools and programs that are more effective than ever before, thanks to a quiet revolt against business as usual. The evidence-based policy movement is increasingly being embraced by researchers, activists and government officials. The use of randomized controlled trials to assess social programs is […]
Key Takeaways: Physicists have long struggled to explain why the universe started out with conditions suitable for life to evolve. But another is that our universe is a computer simulation, with someone (perhaps an advanced alien species) fine-tuning the conditions. This leads to the extraordinary possibility that our entire universe might in fact be computer […]

Top Picks

Key Takeaways: The impacts of natural disasters, in particular those related to climate change, have been attracting growing attention. The results show that floods hamper GDP, with the extent depending on how financial intermediary activities respond to the floods. The study is related to a growing literature that quantifies the impact on natural disasters such […]
Key Takeaways: Albert Einstein’s theory of general relativity has been remarkably successful in describing the gravity of stars and planets. However, gaps in our understanding start to appear when we try to apply it to extremely small distances, where the laws of quantum mechanics operate. A new study, published in Nature Astronomy, has now tested […]

Trending

I highly recommend reading the McKinsey Global Institute’s new report, “Reskilling China: Transforming The World’s Largest Workforce Into Lifelong Learners”, which focuses on the country’s biggest employment challenge, re-training its workforce and the adoption of practices such as lifelong learning to address the growing digital transformation of its productive fabric. How to transform the country […]

Join our Newsletter

Get our monthly recap with the latest news, articles and resources.

Login

Welcome to Empirics

We are glad you have decided to join our mission of gathering the collective knowledge of Asia!
Join Empirics