Open Source The Science

There’s a move afoot to open-source academic articles, of which I wholeheartedly approve. I recall a time when one could obtain a printed article from many universities simply by asking. Professors were delighted to spread the knowledge. Today, places such as http://doaj.org/ provide open access to articles, and I hope the trend expands.

But I advocate open-sourcing not only the final articles, but the data, the algorithms, the thinking processes (if at all possible), the methodology, the potential conflicts of interest – everything needed to replicate, refute, and critique the science.

Why? Because this would help to answer many important questions. It would help to weed out bad science.

There are very serious doubts about the quality of scientific research. Here are only two of the pertinent articles; there are many more.

Lies, damned lies, and medical science is a worrisome article about the work of Dr. John Ioannidis and others in the field of meta-research – studying the validity of research at the meta level. While the focus is on medical science, there is reason to believe that the problem is much bigger.

Here is an article by John Ioannidis himself: Why Most Published Research Findings Are False.

This applies not only to science, but to economics and history; consider the controversy over Thomas Piketty’s data and findings, for a recent example.

Even well-respected, heavily-cited papers are sometimes refuted. Caveat Lector.

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