The evils of Open Science – ArcheoThoughts
ab1630's bookmarks 2018-05-17
"The ever-reliable Jon Tennant brings our attention this week to Philip Mirkowski’s recently published essay on the evils of Open Science (capitalized here for dramatic effect). At first, I found the paper baffling. The first baffling aspect is that it is a pay-walled paper about open science. To summarize his complaint: Open science equals neo-liberalism. I have never been accused until now of being a neo-liberal, and I must admit that my initial reaction was sub-optimal. But as I calmed down toward the end of the rather long text, I figured out that I actually agree with much of his critique, if one key assumption is given: that open science is driven, and has already largely been captured by, big business. That is a valuable warning.
Last week, I declared that the business model of traditional academic publishers is dead, but Mirkowski is quite right in warning us that they are working on a new one, and that we are again their target. They successfully hijacked our labour and monetized research already paid for by the public in their traditional model by inserting themselves as intermediaries in the academic process. They seek to do the same in the new world of the internet in which, by their own admission, they have been disintermediated. Their pattern is to capitalize on what we do, whatever it is. And there certainly are ways of capitalizing on what open science advocates want to do.
Setting the stage
Mirkowski starts by listing what I see as some of the good things about the open science movement, but which he clearly considers are useless fads at best, and existential threats to academia at worst. “For some, [open science] denotes mere open access to existing scientific publications; for others, it portends a different format for future scientific publication; for yet others, it signifies the open provision of scientific data; for others, it is primarily about something like open peer review; and for still others, the clamor for openness purports to welcome the participation of non-scientists into the research process, under the rubric of citizen science”. It does other things that Mirkowski considers very bad, such as promote radical collaboration (to which I will return later)...."