Frankl meets blockchain science team, ARTiFACTS

Photo by Anna Samoylova on Unsplash

One of the most exciting parts of the Frankl adventure has been discovering fellow travellers — people around the world who love science but think it has definite room for improvement. We’re far from being alone in thinking that blockchain can play a role in making science more accurate, more accessible, and more rewarding for scientists who prioritise the greater good.

Even within the blockchain for science community, different groups are tackling different issues from different directions — as our brief (and far from comprehensive) review in Hacker Noon demonstrates. And so the big question is how these different projects with different but complementary objectives can work together.


Last week, I had a chance to catch up with Courtney Morris and David Kochalko, co-founders of ARTiFACTS. Their pitch, in a nutshell, is that science is much more than articles in scientific journals; that it’s important, therefore, to catalogue all the “artifacts” produced by scientists; and that blockchain offers a neat solution to this problem.

ARTiFACTS provides a simple, user-friendly platform, purpose built for academic and scientific research that leverages blockchain technology. Researchers can record a permanent, valid, and immutable chain of records in real-time, from the earliest stages of research for all research artifacts, including citing/attribution transactions. While today’s digital scholarship merely creates linkages among an artificially narrowed subset of indexed publications long after discoveries are made, ARTiFACTS focuses on capturing and linking knowledge from its initial ideation throughout the research process to informal and formal dissemination. By using the ARTiFACTS platform, researchers will be able to immutably prove ownership and existence of novel work, expand access to their research artifacts, provide and receive ‘real-time’ attribution for novel work and more comprehensively and rapidly build and demonstrate their body of scholarly contributions.

We’re big fans of this idea. ARTiFACTS would allow researchers to make easily available the smaller components of research that don’t fit into a journal article — and potentially do this earlier (i.e., before the full journal article is published).

It also provides a mechanism by which researchers can demonstrate their individual contributions to collaborative research teams. It could be especially valuable for early career researchers, who are often small cogs in a larger research machine. And of course there are flow-on effects. If you know that your efforts within a collaboration are going to be recognised, you’re more likely to want to take part in collaborative research.

Pulling in the same direction

The objectives of the ARTiFACTS team are very nicely aligned with our own at Frankl. In both cases, we’re trying to improve science from the bottom up, by integrating best practices into the scientific workflow. In Frankl’s case, that means building applications for data collection that make it easy for researchers to manage and share their data at the appropriate time — and a token economy that rewards them for sharing their data and methods.

As Courtney, David, and I discussed, there’s a genuine synergy here. Integration between the two platforms would provide input to ARTiFACTS. It would, for example, allow researchers to claim credit on ARTiFACTS for the data they have collected using Frankl applications.

Conversely, there are obvious benefits to linking data archived via Frankl to researcher profiles on ARTiFACTS, particularly in situations where it might be important who collected the data or where the data were collected.

And as we move beyond applications built by the Frankl team to applications contributed by members of the broader scientific community, scientific reputation becomes even more important. We want Frankl users to know who has created Frankl apps, what their track record is, how their applications have been used in previous research, and so on.

These are features we’ve thought about and planned eventually to implement ourselves within the Frankl platform. But there’s no point re-inventing the wheel. In our view, it’s better if possible to work with other teams that are already focused on solutions to the challenges ahead.

The common goal for all the teams in this space is to make science more open, more efficient, and more collaborative. The best way to achieve those ideals is to live by them.

At Frankl, our mission is to make open science easy and rewarding. If you’d like to know more, you can read our whitepaper, check out our website, and follow us onFacebook and Twitter @FranklOpenSci. You can also chat directly with us via our Telegram channel at