January 21, 2009

Science Commons: Building on the Creative Commons model to Further Scientific Success

Posted in Research, science at 12:23 am by cminge

“Many scientists today work in relative isolation, left to follow blind alleys and duplicate existing research. Data are balkanized — trapped behind firewalls, locked up by contracts or lost in databases that can’t be accessed or integrated. Materials are hard to get — universities are overwhelmed with transfer requests that ought to be routine, while grant cycles pass and windows of opportunity close. It’s not uncommon for research sponsors to invest hundreds of millions of dollars in critically important efforts like drug discovery, only to see them fail.

The consequences in many cases are no less than tragic. The time it takes to go from identifying a gene to developing a drug currently stands at 17 years — forever, for people suffering from disease.

Science Commons has three interlocking initiatives designed to accelerate the research cycle — the continuous production and reuse of knowledge that is at the heart of the scientific method. Together, they form the building blocks of a new collaborative infrastructure to make scientific discovery easier by design.”

The first series of Science Commons projects to be launched aim to illustrate how this concept can be employed in the real world, and can yield meaningful advances:

  • The Neurocommons: The “proof-of-concept” project for neuroscience researchers. The NeuroCommons is a beta open source knowledge management system for biomedical research that anyone can use, and anyone can build on.
  • Biological Materials Transfer Project: Developing and deploying standard, modular contracts to lower the costs of transferring physical biological materials such as DNA, cell lines, model animals, antibodies and more. The project integrates existing standard agreements into a Web-deployed suite alongside new Science Commons contracts, and allows for the emergence of a transaction system along the lines of Amazon or eBay by using the licensing as a discovery mechanism for materials.
  • Scholar’s Copyright Project: A method for ensuring that your database can be legally integrated with other databases, regardless of the country of origin. The protocol is not a license or legal tool, but instead a methodology and best practices document for creating such legal tools, and marking data in the public domain for machine-assisted discovery.
  • The Health Commons: A coalition of parties interested in changing the way basic science is translated into the understanding and improvement of human health. Coalition members agree to share data, knowledge, and services under standardized terms and conditions by committing to a set of common technologies, digital information standards, research materials, contracts, workflows, and software. These commitments ensure that knowledge, data, materials and tools can move seamlessly from partner to partner across the entire drug discovery chain.

So scientists, please visit the Science Commons website to learn more, and get talking about how the way you conduct, share and review research data can be changed!


1 Comment »

  1. mike seyfang said,

    Nice work! (lucky you pointed it out because I reset my RSS reader after a long holiday).


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