From Open Source to Open Science

Kevin Lustig | pharmaphorum | August 17, 2012

Kevin Lustig explores open science and how it can be used to increase access to scientific data. Kevin also looks at how pharmaceutical companies, such as Pfizer and Merck, are promoting their own brand of open science.

Open science is the new open source. Amateur scientists are building community labs, the public is clamoring for greater access to taxpayer-funded research results, and pharmaceutical companies are finally creating new ways to facilitate open innovation. The Internet is bridging the gap between knowledge and access, resulting in revolutions in journalism, music and social interaction, the open source movement and, now, the open science movement.

Open science has three primary tenets:

  • Open access to scientific data
  • Easy access to research tools and technologies
  • Community collaboration

These tenets closely parallel those of open source, the spiritual predecessor of open science. The non-profit Open Source Initiative’s founding goal about 10 years ago was to have open source software provide “better quality, higher reliability, more flexibility, lower cost, and an end to predatory vendor lock-in.” The result? Open source projects like Open Office Suite and the Android platform, which has spawned an entire ecosystem of user-friendly (and often free) products and creative apps. What started in the early 2000s as a movement is now an industry with expected revenues of $8.1 billion in 20131, a testament to people power...

The funny thing about scientific innovation is that you never know when it will strike or who will be the innovator. It can come at anytime from anyone, even high school students. At its heart, open science is really about lowering the barriers to research so that scientists of all stripes, professional and citizen can turn their thoughts into actions and do something about their probably crazy, but possibly brilliant, ideas!