Open Source and Software

Open Source is in some ways the model upon which Open Science is based and a working demonstration that complex problems can be freely shared and collaborated on. While there are still risks and obstacles in adopting such an approach in all scientific fields it can offer possible solutions.

Open Source software communities are seen by some as the ideal which science should follow. ‘Free and open source software communities have demonstrated that actually practicing the norms of openness and information sharing in a peer-production setting can result in the creation of complex technological products that approach, and sometimes rival, the scope and quality of similar products produced by proprietary efforts’.

There is also a study which found that opening science in a similar way to the open source community allowed solutions from unconnected disciplines to emerge: ‘In a four-week period of time, over 574 scientists investigated the problem statement and forty-two of them submitted potential solutions for considerations. The winning solution was proposed by a scientist from Finland who did not work in this field.’ However, some obstacles to this approach are concerns regarding risks to career advancement, commercialization and IP, and publications.

One example of the crossover between the Open Source approach and science is that currently, NASA has all its research as Open Source. For example, all physical experiments done on the ISS are now available for data mining.

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