Tuesday 15 November 2011

Openness: parliament and academia

One thing I was particularly struck by was how open most of the workings of Parliament were. Members of the public can sit in the galleries to watch the debates in the Houses of Commons and Lords, and in Westminster Hall. The debates are televised and fully minuted in Hansard, with minutes online by 6am the next day. Wouldn't it be amazing if we did science in this way, with all of our operations televised and fully minuted for inspection! That really would be the ideal of Open Science.

Not only that, but members of the public can sit in on most select committee meetings, and watch the proceedings. The science equivalent would be to have a cordon at one end of your lab and to allow the public free access to come and go at any time as long as they sit behind the cordon. And the committee reports are all made publicly available on their websites. Not publicly available in some journal that you might not have access to or have to pay $30 per report for, but freely available. Science still has a long way to go to become this freely available.

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