Sunday, April 4, 2010

Science 2.0: Open Science via Web 2.0 Technologies (Intro)

Last week I presented a paper at the College English Association 2010 Conference in San Antonio Texas. For some strange reason, I actually received three or four requests for copies of the paper I presented. Although I decided to not offer the full text in this forum, I have decided to publish the introduction here on the blog. If you would like to read it, I will be happy to send you a copy via the eerie power of the Internets. So if you are suffering from insomnia, here is your treatment. Enjoy!

Science 2.0: Open Science via Web 2.0 Technologies

In his article, “Science 2.0: Great New Tool, or Great Risk?” for Scientific American, M. Mitchell Waldrop (2008, January 9) experiments with ‘networked journalism’ by allowing the readers of this article to contribute to his understanding of Science 2.0. He describes this article as a “particularly apt candidate” for this kind of collaborative journalism due to the subject of Science 2.0, which he describes as “how researchers are beginning to harness wikis, blogs and other Web 2.0 technologies as a potentially transformative way of doing science” (p. 1). This iteration of his article is a draft and the contributions of readers were assimilated into the final product published in the following April edition. In other words, Waldrop (2008) is using the platforms that allow Science 2.0 to exist to inform his future article about Science 2.0.

Certainly, the World Wide Web (WWW) has transformed the ways many people today approach business, conduct journalism, connect with friends, and receive education. Web 2.0 technologies are reinventing the identity of educational institutions across the world. Social web tools, such as Weblogs, wikis, and podcasts, are changing the ways businesses, libraries and universities conduct commerce, define education and information literacy (Richardson, 2007, p. 62; Kraft, 2007, p. 34). Real Simple Syndication (RSS) tools allow users to create and subscribe to every kind of information (and misinformation) imaginable (Marsh, 2006, p. 340). As Richard Berry (2006) describes it, Web 2.0 tools “allow anyone—individual or corporate—to produce content for audiences who do not particularly care where it comes from” (p. 158).

Science, and specifically how research is conducted, has also noticed the potential and the pitfalls associated with the appropriation of Web 2.0 technologies into its processes of inquiry and publication. Advocates of incorporating these technologies into scientific research argue for “openness as cooperation” while opponents warn that this openness is dangerous: “using blogs and social networks for your serious work feels like an open invitation to have your online lab notebooks vandalized--or worse, have your best ideas stolen and published by a rival” (Waldrop, 2008, p. 2). Although these reservations in the scientific community are often understood as the conflict between “public science” and corporate “industrial profit-goals” (David, 1998, p. 15), Daryl E. Chubin (1985) warns against this over simplification of the ‘scientific community’ as ignoring “the subtleties that characterize [scientific] practice and defy ideal-types” (p. 74).

This paper seeks to examine these subtleties that characterize the practices of the scientific community by exploring this one question: How have the tools of Web 2.0 changed or influenced the way scientists conduct their research? In order to understand how these tools are used in science today, this paper will first examine the concept of Open Science and how it relates to Science 2.0. After examining the context in which Open Science operates, a set of criteria will be offered in order to describe the practice of Science 2.0. Next, this paper will examine how some practitioners of science use Science 2.0 tools to conduct research. Specifically, this paper will contain a cursory rhetorical analysis of The Mimulus Community, a discussion group in OpenWetWare—a wiki dedicated to open research using Science 2.0 tools—in order to understand how some scientific researchers are using Science 2.0 to cooperate with each other’s research and to publish their results. Ultimately, this paper seeks to provide a more complete understanding of how some scientists are shaping research through the new software technologies that enable the practice of Science 2.0.

(Copies of complete text is available upon request)

-Safari Bob

References for this Post

  • Berry, R. (2006). Will the iPod kill the radio star? Profiling podcasting as radio. The International Journal of Research into New Media Technologies, 12 (2), 143-162.

  • Chubin, D. E. (1985). Open science and closed science: Tradeoffs in a democracy. Science, Technology, & Human Values, 10 (2), 79-81.

  • David, P. A. (1998). CLIO and the economic organization of science: Common agency
    contracting and the emergence of “open science” institutions. AEA Papers and Proceedings, 88 (2), 15-21.

  • Kraft, M. (2007). Integrating and promoting medical podcasts into the library collection. Medical Reference Services Quarterly, 26 (1), 27-35.

  • Marsh, C. (2006). Aristotelian ethos and the new orality: Implications for media literacy and media ethics. Journal of Mass Media Ethics, 21 (4), 338-352.

  • Richardson, W. (2007). The online edge: Online-powered school libraries. District Administration, 43 (1), 62-63.

  • Waldrop, M. M. (2008, January 9). Science 2.0: Great new tool, or great new risk? Scientific American. Retrieved April 19, 2008, from

  • Waldrop, M. M. (2008, April 21). Science 2.0—Is open Access Science the Future? Scientific American. Retrieved April 23, 2008, from


  1. Hi, would it be posible to get the full article?

    It really ties in with some work we are doing entitled Use and relevance of web 2.0 for researchers, which looks at the extent to which researchers are using these tools across different disciplines and at different stages of the career life cycle

  2. Hello! I would be happy to share it with you. send me an email at