“OPEN SOURCED SCIENCE” by Thing Tank, Wilson Centre

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OPEN SOURCED SCIENCE Stories about the communities and paradigms that shape our open science ecosystem.

IF I HAVE SEEN FURTHER THAN OTHERS, IT IS BY STANDING ON THE SHOULDERS OF GIANTS. ISAAC NEWTON

OPEN SCIENCE IS FUNDAMENTAL TO RESEARCH AND INNOVATION Collaboration is fundamental to research and innovation. Collaboration is also a defining trait of low-cost and open source approaches to scientific hardware — the physical tools used to gather data and make new discoveries. Open source hardware fosters collaboration by making designs “publicly available so that anyone can study, modify, distribute, make, and sell the design.”

OPEN SCIENCE IS ABOUT MORE THAN TOOLS Open science encompasses communities, or groups, networks, and organizations with shared values or goals, a sense of belonging, and shared places (physical, virtual, and hybrid) for gathering. Low-cost and open source hardware exist within and alongside other paradigms, or the assumptions, concepts, values, and practices that shape a particular view of reality. Low-cost and open source hardware communities benefit from paradigms like open source software (OSS) or citizen science, and contribute to these paradigms in turn.

MORE ON OPEN SOURCED SCIENCE OPEN SOURCED SCIENCE IS DRIVING BETTER AND MORE IMPACTFUL SCIENCE This interactive offers a window into the expanding possibilities of low-cost and open source hardware, and the broader open science ecosystem. Framed as more than a movement, it’s an emergent network that is situated within a range of paradigms, and driving innovation to increase the impact of science.

EXPLORE STORIES Get a big-picture view of the open science ecosystem by exploring stories of convergence between paradigms and communities.

Browse All Stories Communities and Paradigms Orbit Browser

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Except where otherwise noted, Open Sourced Science by the Wilson Center is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International license

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THING TANK

From DIY microscopes made from paper and household items, to low-cost and open microprocessors supporting research from cognitive neuroscience to oceanography, to low-cost sensors measuring air quality in communities around the world, the things of science -- that is, the physical tools that generate data or contribute to scientific processes -- are changing the way that science happens.

The nature of tool design is changing, as well as the nature of tool access and use. This may be breaking down our reliance on expensive, proprietary designs traditionally needed to make scientific progress, and building new audiences for tools.

But, questions remain. Will low-cost and/or open tools scale, replacing expensive, proprietary designs? Will the use of these tools fundamentally change how we generate data and knowledge, and apply it to global problems? Will the result be more, and better, science? And if so, what is standing in the way of widespread adoption and use?

Funding for the THING tank is provided by the Alfred P.  Sloan Foundation.

ABOUT THE THING TANK

  • Objectives
    • Over two years, we will conduct a series of events and workshops, and produce a range of publications and products, in order to:

    • Understand the current contributions of low-cost tools to accelerating science, strengthening evidence-based decision making, and broadening public participation and access;
    • Acknowledge and understand the different communities, networks, and stakeholders driving and supporting this movement;
    • Assess and share information on key accelerators and barriers, including manufacturing and scale, data quality, standards, assessments, and governance.
  • Our Approach
    • We aim to understand the current and potential value of low cost hardware for science - including open, proprietary, and mixed solutions - and how these tools are changing science. In particular, we take:

    • A user perspective - with strong ties to citizen science
    • A cross-community approach, with links between emergent and formal public policy communities
    • A US perspective, but with global awareness.
    • Our first steps will be learning more about existing efforts and supporting communities. Research and strategic convenings are traditional tools of think tanks, and we hope our activities will complement the work of others working from different and complementary perspectives.