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Actualizing the Promise of a More Democratic Science: Three Challenges for Open Science

DISCOVER /

Editor Comments:  “What if I tell you that you can access all the information around the world, is this enough to generate a democratic and knowledge society? Probably not. The promise of Academia – Society interaction through citizen science is enough to generate a partnership of mutual benefit. Some of these ideas are discussed in this article” – Ricardo Hartley

The general idea behind open science is simple: the free availability of publications, data and other scientific tools could democratize access to knowledge and increase the possibilities of collaboration between scientists and the rest of society. In addition, by collaborating widely across disciplines and cognitive backgrounds several learning economies could kick off.

Over time, scientists have begun to take up practices aiming at sharing data, publications and problems by using social networks and electronic mediums like academia.com. This appears to have opened up the possibility of creating new forms of collaboration that promise to be transformative. Scientific institutions and development agencies such as the OECD, the World Bank and others have shown interest in these practices, and are developing policies and incentives for open science. Much of this interest seeks to increase the transparency, impact, and efficiency of scientific knowledge production. However, there are still questions regarding the democratization potential of open science. Is Open Science capable of generating a genuine culture of collaborative production of common goods to be fully appropriated by everyone?

This article explores three challenges faced by open science regarding promises for a more democratic science: data accessibility, knowledge appropriation, and barriers to collaboration in the context of diversity.

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