The evolution of science

Last night we re-published our whitepaper on Collaborative Science to not require a LiveID in order to download.  From feedback I’ve gotten, only people with Hotmail and XBox Live accounts had a LiveID to begin with – so we wanted to start fresh and republish the whitepaper to allow a broader group of people to join in the debate.

Which led me to contemplate, of course, on why – exactly – did we publish the whitepaper in the first place?   And then I thought about all the conversations I’ve had with scientists, including in the context of the BioIT Alliance, and realized the issues that still exist within the scientific community.LabWorker

We’ve all seen the trends: increasing use of offshore assets for basic laboratory work, companies that look more towards external research than internal research to find their next drug candidate, even merger and acquisition activity solely for the purpose of buying pipeline.

And while that’s on the corporate side, consider the scientific individual:

  • Typically information is shared only between workers in a single laboratory
  • Scientists – despite the collegial nature – are only willing to share a limited amount of information, that is until they’re published!
  • Competition between labs in the university setting is huge, unless you have an NIH grant that facilitates information sharing.
  • Scientists within pharma companies have been trained over the years NOT to talk about what they’re doing – simply for patent protection reasons.

Now, granted, these may be stereotypes.  They are my personal observations – and the observations of others – but anecdotal observations nonetheless.

These questions remain:

How would those stereotypes change, how would those anecdotal observations be different, if the TECHNOLOGY in the laboratory facilitated collaboration?

Would behavior change, would science evolve, if the technology allowed it to change? 

Has technology (or lack of technology) been a barrier that helped create barriers to collaboration?

And THAT is the point of the whitepaper – discussing how the evolution is happening today and where it might go in the future.

Agree / Disagree?  Let me know!

Collaborative Science Whitepaper:

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