Day: April 17, 2011

Un classico pensiero

Sul blog di Francesco D’Isa sul post ho trovato questa frase qui:

Cioè che a Berlino il clima è una merda, la cucina incomparabile alla nostra, la lingua interessante ma complessa, la città bellissima ma neanche troppo paragonata ad alcune città italiane. Eppure si sta molto, molto meglio rispetto all’Italia. Pensare quanto si starebbe bene a casa se fosse amministrata in modo non dico buono, ma  vagamente decente, è immediato.

Io credo che questo pensiero l’abbiamo pensato in tanti di quelli che sono partiti. Potete cambiare Berlino con una citta qualsiasi del Nord Europa ed il risultato non cambia (almeno per il clima). In particolare io pensavo all’ambito accademico, dove la presenza di gente di tutte le nazionalità è data soltanto dall’approccio meritocratico e dalla bontà della scienza che viene fatta, ed alla ricaduta che questa ha sull’ambiente. Non esattamente dal luogo dove si trova il laboratorio (che comunque è importante dal punto di vista di opportunità, ma un polo di eccellenza viene creato prima dall’alta qualità della scienza, poi dalle possibilità a contorno.)

Bhè, non è un problema del posto dove lo metti è sempre soltanto un problema di gestione, poi le persone si spostano in base alla qualità dell’offerta.

Concludendo, gli amministratori di qualsiasi cosa contano ed anzi determinano la riuscita di un certo ambiente e progetto. Se gli amministratori vengono eletti (e si tratta di amministratori pubblici) è tempo di capire che non sono tutti uguali, ma che qualcuno potrebbe (e dovrebbe) fare la differenza.

Opensource philosophy to science?

Lately there has been a clear movement to move science towards a more open way to make research.

I’m not talking about Open Acess Publishing, which is still important, but to the real art and sweat to do science.

Science has always been very collaborative, however the dimension of this collaborative effort has always been restricted to a small group. This is not the case when general problems seems to be tackle.

For example, when the problem is the definition of a standard, like NeuroML or SBML, the development of it is a community driven project, where the community works as a whole to achieve a standard which is backed by the biggest number of people interested, so can be easily adopted.

The beneficial impact of standard is not the topic of this post, and for the sake of brevity I just want to point out that a well-coded model in a well-recognised standard gives the possibility to share the work of a modeller (in this instance) and make the model be re-used by other people.

On the same line OpenWetWare wanted to share the protocols used in the lab as soon they were established, and actually even before that as ‘Work in progress’.

The ability of a scientist to be a part of a community is not taken in account at all, due to the Publish or Perish system which is right now up and running. This model does not encourage collaboration, and actually create groups of people which are competing on the same topic to scoop each other. This is a broken system.

It’s so broken that some people even decide to leave academia, and that is only one of the cases. A lot of letters are also available in Nature and this article from the Economist got quite famous as well.

Therefore I watched with a lot of interest the new way proposed by Dall’Olio  which consist in collaborative editing of papers.

So far, if I didn’t miss any, at least two papers with this approach have been written, which is very interesting and shed a bright light for the future.

Still the number of places available in academia and the way the recruitment is organized uses the current model, which does not fit the market, and it’s prone to discard talented people very easily. There should be at least a live debate on how to fix this problem, and move science to a super collaborative discipline.

Happier scientists and better science sounds good to me.

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