Friday, October 22, 2010

MyNotes - Researchers Reluctant to Share Data

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 "Miguel," a colleague told me once, "you're a practitioner, that's why this research stuff doesn't grab you." Those words found a special place in my heart. Although I don't doubt the value of research, I find the silly attempts to keep it locked up in refereed journals to be harmful over the long run.

I've heard this conversation before, been a part of it, and I have to tell you, I could care less about publishing in a refereed journal. If I can't publish it in my blog, share it openly with the world, why bother? The perspective in the article is still too biased towards "protecting data."

The point is made more eloquently in this blog entry, "Are Academics Just Talking to Themselves?"

The blogger in that entry writes:
To keep their jobs, academics must publish in journals using isolating academic discourse. They must target high-profile, peer reviewed journals that restrict access based on models of exclusivity and budgetary constraints. They can’t connect too fully with practical matters of the workplace and still maintain their validity in a traditional university curriculum (otherwise they’ll appear to be too vocational). In short, this isn’t the same culture as the world wide web.

I couldn't agree with that perspective more...although Felicia in the excerpt from her longer piece makes some points, they come across as half-hearted. After all, once you've invested time in university life, you've bought into the culture and model, right?
Source: Educational Equity, Politics & Policy in Texas:
"Too Many Researchers Are Reluctant to Share Their Data
By Felicia LeClere | Chronicle of Higher Education Commentary

August 3, 2010

A new model of data sharing and openness is emerging in the scientific community that replaces traditional ways of thinking about research findings as the private property of the primary investigator.

It has become increasingly apparent that scientific data should be considered a product in much the same way journal articles or conference proceedings are, and they should therefore be shared as widely as articles and proceedings, while being credited to their producers. momentum has clearly shifted toward more transparency, at least among those who finance science 'I worked hard for this, and I want to exploit it as much as I can.'

It is true that academe is designed to reward publications and, thus, when we share data, we run the risk of being 'scooped.'

'People won't use the data properly.'If we prevent people from entering the conversation because we are afraid they might say something stupid, we violate the basic principle of science that statements are considered valid when well supported by evidence or until proved wrong. Data are the raw materials of those conversations.The most effective argument in favor of data sharing is simple: It is good science.

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Republic of Mathematics said...

Miguel it seems to me that you don't understand the research process. Academic papers are not locked away in journals - anyone is free to read them - except most people cannot. That is not simply a result of an academic culture but a necessary requirement of as much accuracy and rigor as is possible - an imperfect system, but one that does produce results. The issue you seem to be addressing is communication of research. This is a vital and often overlooked part of the research process. NSF, fr example, puts great store by it.

MKB said...

Miguel, there is actually an interesting discussion about this very topic being had in the ITFORUM listserv (a listserve for Instructional Technology professionals - although most of the members are academics). The discussion has focused on traditional journals vs. open access, the peer review process, the promotion and tenure process, etc.. But it actually speaks to the very things you have mentioned here.

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