Increase the output of scientific research.

Have you ever asked yourself, how can I make the world a better place?

Have you asked yourself what has been at the heart of humanity’s advancement so far?

If you dig deep, you’ll find that science is one of the key aspects of the answer.

Science has brought water to our homes, cured diseases, connected us across the world and so much more.

Can you imagine the repercussions of accelerating the rate of discovery?

I can think of no better way to make the world a better place than achieving this goal.

As we can see with polymathprojects, the human genome project and others. The most effective way to do science is open collaboration.

The problem is that there is no monetary or career incentive for researchers to collaborate.

At OSN we are creating an open source system that allows collaboration in science projects. Thanks to blockchain technology we can register contributions to a project in a ledger. This allows researchers and funders to be recognized for any result obtained, be it a paper or a patent. All of this in a decentralized and collaborative way. Resulting in monetary and career advancement incentives. Giving the framework necessary to collaborate on a massive scale. Also eliminating frictions and bureaucracy on the current system.

Problem

Current Science ecosystem

The way scientific research is currently managed has served humanity well so far. But it has built-in limitations in the incentive structures. This leads to issues such as:

Time consuming access to grants, withheld information, the fact that reproductions of experiments are not published or cited, inability to cooperate because each researcher wants to be the one presenting a patent or paper, and so on.

Today’s technology provides a way of aligning incentives to solve these issues.

Scientific Journals

Scientists are evaluated by the number of papers they publish and how many citations they get. This is the measure of their reputation and their badge to get grants and recognition.

The Scientific Journal system was invented in the 17th century. With today’s technology, it is ripe for an improvement.

The following steps summarize how most journals work:

  1. Researcher applies for a grant
  2. Universities/companies give grants to researcher
  3. Researcher produces a paper
  4. Journals keep the copyright of what is published
  5. Journals sell access to its papers to Scientists/Universities
  6. The more readers, the more money the Journal earns. So they have a bias against publishing a non original paper (e.g. reproduction paper or negative results).

Implications

  • Because reproduction papers tend to not get published, researchers have no incentive to reproduce other people work. Leading to papers that are not reliable or impossible to reproduce as you can see described in this paper.
  • Because of the bias against negative results by journals and researchers that don’t want to publish them, other scientists investigate the same thing over again, wasting time
  • Researchers producing content have to pay to read and sometimes even pay to publish. It has become so expensive that even Harvard can’t afford the price hikes imposed by many large journal publishers. Imagine the case of a community college in Luisiana, or an independent science enthusiast. More information in this link
  • Scientists have no incentive to do open research. They don’t get payed to do it and if they don’t present papers, their career doesn’t move forward.

All these interactions can be reprogrammed. With well defined network rules, we can change the way we think and work around discovery. We can open the door for competing systems, that will ultimately help us find the best possible solution.

Solution

At OSN we want to create an open source system that allows collaboration in a project. Thanks to blockchain technology there will be an allocation of money, resources, intellectual property and credit for the work done without the need to trust a third party or other participants in the network.

This will eliminate frictions and bureaucracy in the current system. Including the conflict of interest that arises from funding sources, and the granularity of value attribution that comes with blockchain.

Contributions are registered in a Blockchain ledger. This allows researchers and funders to be recognized for any result obtained, be it a paper or a patent. All of this in a decentralized and collaborative way.

How it’s being built

We are using a rapid prototyping principle approach. We aim to create prototype MVPs from conception to testing in three month cycles.This is the reason why we’re going to be shipping many small products with self-contained incentive structures. It is these small and tested crypto ecosystems that will then be used to construct larger and more complex systems.

The idea is to define participants for each investigation and a research flow for each discipline.

Transparency will be at the core of the network, following the egalitarian principles of this revolutionary approach to thinking about the internet. Our focus is decentralisation of control, and developing good governance models.

First prototype

In this first prototype, we will have network participants and a research flow. As time goes on, there will be improvements on how the network works and we will add specific research flows that better adapt to the different disciplines in science. We invite all scientist to propose improvements.

Network participants

Creators

Creates Research Topics and captures the attention of other Researchers. A Research Topic is a self-contained scientific question, hypothesis or problem to solve. A Creator is just a Researcher with extra privileges within a specific Research Topic. They get rewarded with a percentage of the funds secured.

Researchers

Researchers Contribute to a Research Topic to help solve it. Their contribution is registered in a blockchain ledger. A percentage of the funds secured in a Research Topic get distributed amongst Researchers, depending on the impact of their contributions. At the time of publication of this topic on the network, contributions and data generated will be linked to the Researcher.

Arbiters

Arbiters are third parties with knowledge and reputation in the field corresponding to a Research Topic. They get rewarded with a percentage of the funds secured.

They will be chosen at the beginning by the Creator amongst reputable people in the field. The need for Arbiters comes from a lack of a reputation well established for the MVP. In following iterations, Arbiters might be voted by other Researchers on the project, or decided based on their previous contributions to similar Research Topic.

Arbiters say how much a Researcher’s result is worth as a percentage of all the Research Topic, be it a negative or positive result.

OSN wants to put value to positive and negative results as well. This is to give an incentive to publish this results, so that it is not repeated.

Editors

Editors write papers that communicate the findings come from a Research Topic. They get rewarded with a percentage of the funds secured.

Funders

Provide funds to contribute to a particular Research Topic.

The distribution of funds for the topic is enforced by a smart contract and:

  • Part is distributed among collaborators in each step of the research (Creator, Researcher, Donor, Arbiter). For future iterations, we are studying ways to give an incentive to create science that is reproducible. One possible option is:
  • Part of the funds are used to pay for reproduction of the results once the research is finished.
  • Part of the funds are locked and will be released to the people that collaborated only after results have been reproduced.

This incentive structure has to be carefully designed in a way that prevents bad actors from gamifying the system and create bad outcomes.

Research Topic Flow

Topic Creation

To start the research initiative, a Creator launches a new “Research Topic”. She needs to include:

  • An Arbiter that will mediate the topic. The Arbiters address could easily be a multisig with multiple Arbiters behind it. The Creator has an incentive to pick trusted and knowledgeable Arbiters in order to gather research talent and secure funds.
  • A question, hypothesis or problem to solve.
  • A description with extra information required to tackle the topic.
  • If they are looking for funds
  • Percentage of rewards that will go to the Editor.
  • Percentage of rewards that will go to the Arbiter.
  • Percentage of rewards that the Creator will keep.

Contributing

Once the Research Topic is live, Researchers can start sending contributions. A contribution would be the hash of an IPFS file that contains the actual text.

Funding

Donors can send an “OSN RES token” to the Research Topic at any point before it’s closed. Once an Arbiter closes the Research Topic and is in the process of distributing credit, no more donations are accepted.

Closing a Research Topic

The Arbiter can call the research finished and close the Research Topic. The Arbiter should rank each contribution as:

  • Unhelpful
  • Small Contribution
  • Medium Contribution
  • Key Contribution

The percentage of funds reserved for Researchers will be distributed between all contributions with Key contributions earning more than Medium, those more than Small and Unhelpful contributions not earning any rewards.

Publishing

The last step in the research process is publishing a paper that summarizes or communicates the findings. Any Editor can submit a paper proposal. If accepted by the Arbiter, the Editor will receive the reward, the paper will be linked with the Research Topic, and it will be finalized. At this point the final percentage, reserved for the Creator will also be unlocked for withdrawal.

ID

In order to take full advantage and control of their work within the OSN system, a scientist must be able to identify their contributions within the indelible record, providing a link between the academic and their professional activities and ensuring that their work is recognized

Marketplace

The marketplace is a crucial step in the research process, and will be developed in future iterations of the prototype.

The marketplace is where the services necessary to carry out the research process will be offered to network participants.

If there’s a need to access to data marketplaces, lab testing services, etc this will all be available to Researchers within the network.

A simple way to access this marketplace, will not only allow for an increased efficiency, but also a complete tracking in time of where was the data or results acquired, bringing an important tool to demonstrate the traceability of the process.

In a Nutshell

Problem

  • Researchers spend 50% of their time applying for grants
  • Reproducibility crisis
  • Difficulties collaborating with other Researchers
  • Cost of the Scientific Journals model

Solution

Distributed Funding

OSN will support an ecosystem of funding methods that can follow whatever distribution, prerequisites and other rules the Creator sees fit. By having a permanent record of all interactions past and present within the blockchain, distribution of funds can be instant, global and granular, depending on the choices made by the funding entity.

Massively Open Collaboration

With the blockchain used as a ledger to keep perfect track of everyone’s contributions, it is far simpler to distribute academic credit or revenue from possible patents and commercial applications after a piece of research is complete. Scientists from around the world will be free to cooperate in solving problems in a way that has never before been possible.

Research Distribution

Everything will be publishable without a pre-approval process beyond basic validation to prevent network spam. All research that scientists consider ready for the world will exist in a continuum state instead of the binary unpublished/published state of the current ecosystem. Research verification will help determine valuable findings, but everything will be open and available by default.

Beneficiaries

Researchers

  • Less time spent trying to acquire grants.
  • Rewards for smaller contributions.
  • Leverage other researchers to tackle larger problems.

R&D Institutions

  • Improved tracking of researcher performance.
  • Discover worldwide talent to add to your team.
  • Access to more funding sources.
  • Higher ROI and faster reaserch

Funders

  • Better ROI for funds.
  • Granular tracking of your funds impact.
  • Access to a larger pool of researchers and institutions.

Last but most importantly, all of humanity, for increasing the output of scientific research!!!

If you want to give feedback, your opinion or just stay informed. You can be in touch with the team via our telegram group: http://t.me/osnglobal

Our website: http://osn.global

Info about our presale: http://token.osn.global

Open Science Network

Rethinking the Scientific Ecosystem

Tomas Achaval-Palacio

Written by

Open Science Network

Rethinking the Scientific Ecosystem

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