Common Agency Contracting and the Emergence of "Open Science" Institutions on JSTOR

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"The particular historical development of in- terest here is the emergence of precisely those fundamental lines of cultural and institutional demarcation, to which I have referred in dis- tinguishing the existence of the sphere of "open science" activities supported by state funding and the patronage of private founda- tions and carried on today in universities and public (not-for-profit) institutes. Although the conceptualization of science as the pursuit of "public knowledge" now seems to many a natural, even a primitive notion, it is in reality a complex social construct (see Robert K. Merton 1973, 1996 part III). The "commu- nal" ethos and norms of "the Republic of Sci- ence" emphasize the cooperative character of the larger purpose in which individual re- searchers are engaged, stressing that the  accumulation of reliable knowledge is an es- sentially social process. The force of its univ- ersalist norm is to render entry into scientific work and discourse open to all persons of "competence," while a second key aspect of "openness" is promoted by norms concerning the sharing of knowledge in regard to new findings and the methods whereby they were obtained.

Open science is a quite recent social inno- vation, at least by historical standards. Ac- companying the profound epistemological reorientation wrought by the fusion of exper- imentalism with Renaissance mathematics, the cultural ethos and social organization of West- ern European scientific activities during the late 16th and 17th centuries underwent a sig- nificant transformation, a break from the pre- viously dominant regime of "secrecy in the pursuit of nature's secrets." This change should be seen as a distinctive and vital aspect of the Scientific Revolution, from which there crystallized a new set of conventions, incen- tive structures, and institutional mechanisms that reinforced scientific researchers' commit- ments to rapid disclosure and wider dissemi- nation of their discoveries and inventions. Yet the puzzle of why and how this came about has not received the notice it would seem to deserve, especially in view of the complemen- tarities and tensions that are present today in relations between the regimes of open and pro- prietary science...."



09/15/2020, 06:22

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Date tagged:

09/15/2020, 10:22

Date published:

05/01/1998, 06:22