Opening Science to Society: learning to sharing

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The digital revolution has radically changed the processes of production and dissemination of scientific results. Scientific societies, journals’ editorial boards and funding agencies now seem to be aware of the fact that a robust and effective form of  data sharing is essential in order to fully exploit new achievements, optimize the use of resources and contribute to the transparency of science. Today, it would seem that the process is now well under way, and it is only a question of time before the results arrive.

Looking at the matter more closely, however, it is clear how some important aspects have remained in the background. Nevertheless, their development requires a substantial change of perspective: looking at data sharing as more than just a simple matter of science.

Moving in this direction, we decided to launch Opening Science to Society, an initiative that wants to deal with scientific, educational and public aspects of data sharing through an integrated approach. We follow three lines of action:

You can’t manage what you don’t measure

We want to help overcome an obvious limitation of the current approaches, the substantial lack of quantitative knowledge on the degree and the ways of data sharing in the vast majority of research fields. The collection of a large set of information relative to different scientific areas is a critical step to identify possible mutual needs and / or opportunities, define shared guidelines and develop comprehensive strategies that can also facilitate interdisciplinary interactions.

Educating for the Future

Bringing data sharing into the classroom represents a remarkable (but yet to be understood) opportunity for educational purposes. We would like to develop new educational tools to make young researchers aware of the importance of making data and results available to the scientific community.

Bridging Science and Society

Extending the discussion to the public could represent an excellent first step to find a better balance between scientific goals and public involvement and develop models for a more active participation by citizens to scientific initiatives.

Our first move in these directions is the launch of the Opening Science to Society web site, a workspace we would like to share with all those who believe that the philosophy of open data is an important means to advance scientific progress and open up science to society. At present, the web site gives access to:

- a brief synopsis of the initiative
- information about our ongoing activities
- a forum for discussion of scientific, educational and ethical aspects
- an updated list of articles concerning data sharing
- numerous links to scientific and educational resources

Researchers from Italian Universities (Sapienza of Rome, Cagliari, L'Aquila) and Research Institutes (Italian Institute of Anthropology and Italian Institute of Human Palaeontology)  have already joined our initiative.

We are very interested in collecting ideas and suggestions and to expand the cooperation. To do this, we invite you to contribute to the debate through our online forum.

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