A Toronto scientist’s radical move: sharing lab notes

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A Toronto scientist’s radical move: sharing lab notes

Post by RitaA » Thu 10 Mar 2016 1:19

http://www.thestar.com/news/insight/201 ... notes.html
A Toronto scientist’s radical move: sharing lab notes

At the risk of being scooped, Rachel Harding will release data on Huntington’s disease long before publication.


In this “publish or perish” world — where prestige, funding and commercial rights often depend on being first to out of the journal box — concealment has vanquished pre-publication transparency at almost every turn. That means, in all too many cases, that scientists are duplicating work in their secretive isolation.

“It’s a waste of everyone’s time and money if we’re just repeating experiments to compete with each other for personal gain,” says Harding, “rather than trying to answer the important scientific questions.”

Under the direction of consortium CEO Aled Edwards, the Toronto centre has committed to immediately sharing its publishable discoveries and compounds.

But in releasing her lab notes, the Oxford-educated Harding is going a huge step further — and putting herself in professional peril.

Most importantly, Harding says, she’s opening herself up as a young scientist to the real possibility that others will simply steal her proffered findings and scoop her to publication.

“The way that I get my next position, or my next job or my next lot of funding … is judged almost entirely on my research publication output,” she says. “So by releasing data openly before publication you are essentially giving away what was previously considered to be your laboratory secrets.”

Secondly, Edwards says, the data Harding will be openly sharing may have significant monetary value if it leads to drug discovery.

“I would never have had the balls to do that,” he says of Harding’s move.

Harding, however, says the chance she might help encourage a more collaborative scientific paradigm outweighs the potential pitfalls of her decision.

“It would be great if we can have this sort of online, interactive network — people talking about experiments in real time … and openly sharing their data,” she says. “The system is ineffective; it doesn’t really deliver as quickly as it could.”

I sincerely hope karma rewards Rachel Harding.

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