This week we read about the formation of institutions and practices around the expression of scientific knowledge: Robert Boyle’s notion of “matters of fact”, the formation of the Royal Society of London, and optionally – the development of the citation system.
Both the multiplicity of witnesses idea and the peer review system rely on legitimacy granted through community. The community legitimates the experiment or hypothesis by witnessing and replicating it. The community decides which papers are best and most representative of the field, thus ensuring the promulgation of quality science. But, as the Nielsen article on Open Science hints, there are problems with a system that ultimately funnels and excludes. Publication record is of paramount importance to most scientists, and the desire to secrecy is strong.
My questions for this week are three fold:
a) Can the peer review system be said to skew incentives?
b) How might one hack the Peer Review System?
c) How would you design a new, open, science.
For #2: checkout http://arxiv.org/abs/1212.0638.
For #3: It’s worth checking out Professor Timothy Gower’s original blog post which started the polymath project: http://gowers.wordpress.com/2009/01/27/is-massively-collaborative-mathematics-possible/