Emergent Science: Solving Complex Science Problems via Collaborations

TitleEmergent Science: Solving Complex Science Problems via Collaborations
Publication TypeConference Paper
Year of Publication2009
AuthorsLi, X, Ramachandran, R, Wilson, BD, Lynnes, C, Conover, H
Conference NameAmerican Geophysical Union
Date Published12/2009
Conference LocationSan Francisco, CA
KeywordsSolving complex science problems
AbstractThe recent advances in Cyberinfrastructure have democratized the use of computational and data resources. These resources together with new social networking and collaboration technologies, present an unprecedented opportunity to impact the science process. These advances can move the science process from “circumspect science” -- where scientists publish only when the project is complete, publish only the final results, seldom publish things that did not work, and communicate results with each other using paper technology -- to “open science” -- where scientists can share and publish every element in their research, from the data used as input, workflows used to analyze these data sets, possibly failed experiments, and the final results. Open science can foster novel ways of social collaboration in science. We are already seeing the impact of social collaboration in our daily lives. A simple example is the use of reviews posted online by other consumers while evaluating whether to buy a product or not. This phenomenon has been well documented and is referred by many names such as Smart Mobs, Wisdom of Crowds, Wikinomics, Crowd sourcing, We-Think and swarm collaboration. Similar social collaborations during the science process can lead to “emergent science”. We define "emergent science" as way complex science problems can be solved and new research directions forged out of a multiplicity of relatively simple collaborative interactions. There are, however, barriers that prevent social collaboration within the science process. Some of these barriers are technical such as lack of science collaboration platforms and the others are social. The success of any collaborative platform has to take into account the incentives or motivation for the scientists to participate. This presentation will address obstacles facing emergent science and will suggest possible solutions required to build a critical mass.