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Making science open to everyone

by Eva Amsen


I get the impression that people see me as two entirely different people: On the one hand, there’s the person who supports open science and helps scientists get their work out. On the other hand, there’s the person who is always talking about how science integrates with art, music, travel, cities, books and everything else.

Okay, I’ll admit: I feel like I’m these two separate people myself sometimes.

But here’s the thing: these issues are related.

Both are about transparency of scientific research, and about making science more collaborative and inclusive. You can’t expect non-scientists to care about (funding) science if they never see it anywhere and don’t realize it’s already all around them. And if they’re funding it, they should also be able to see where it ends up. Maybe they won’t understand all the data, but they’ll get some of it. The world isn’t divided into researchers on one side and complete idiots with no interest in science on the other side. There is an entire spectrum of people, some of whom are very interested in science and would love to be more involved or able to access the work that researchers do. Sometimes that’s through accessing the literature directly, and other times that’s by learning more about science through media they already consume.

There isn’t a lot to bridge the two issues at the moment, though. Articles that are open access are not easy to find or digest for people with a casual interest in science, and a lot of science in popular culture doesn’t offer links to real scientists and their research. I’m encouraged by a lot of what I saw at the recent Wikipedia Science Conference, and inspired by some of the work of ContentMine that would make it possible to sift through articles systematically. I think we can find a way to bridge open science with accessible science information for everyone. Let’s do it!

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