This web site might be of interest to any scientist who feels he/she is competitive enough to participate in worldwide intellectual scientific competition, but who does not have sufficient financial support for his/her ideas and proposals. There are many traditional ways to raise money to support scientific research, but practically all of them are prohibitably time consuming, too complicated, unfair or/and humiliating. This website provides some novel ideas how to improve the professional lives of competitive scientists and to increase the efficiency of scientific endeavors worldwide.
A Novel Synergistic Model of Science Organization and Management
Open Science with "Naked" Scientists
Author: Oleg Matveev
1. Science is not only collaborating community of scholars, but also the competition of minds. The intellectual competition in science has to be honest, fair and open to everyone who feels competitive. A novel principle of fair competition is proposed: equal opportunity for equally good scientific ideas. Anyone who feels that he/she can competitively generate superior, potentially useful scientific ideas and proposals should not confront any obstacles in entering this competition.
2. Scientists should be ranked separately according to performance in at least three categories: value of ideas, concepts, proposals generated; speed and quality in development of ideas; and precision in evaluation of the ideas, proposals of others.
3. The reward system should be based on the value of a person’s scientific contributions, not on the labels he has acquired (e.g., degrees, corporate positions, governmental offices). The existing labelmania in science should be at least cooled down or even may be abolished. The reward system should give separate consideration to the three categories listed in #2, i.e. scientist should separately be ranked and rewarded for: 1) quality and value of scientific ideas and proposals; 2) productivity and quality in the development of ideas and proposals; 3) efficiency and accuracy in evaluating ideas and proposals of other scientists. It is well known even to someone driving a car that multitasking is counterproductive. The reward system and the entire science endeavor should be organized in a way that allows scientists to have freedom of choice: to specialize in idea generation, development, or evaluation or to undertake more than one of these activities, or to teach university students one or more of these roles.
If we are talking about idea first of all we try to understand what is suggested. Somebody who generated ideas must be rewarded based on the what is suggested by him. Very often it does not matter how the idea is presented. On the contrary if we are talking about development first of all we evaluate the quality and speed of development and how the results of development are presented. Very good idea could be awfully developed. Apparently in this case developers should be responsible for that and rewarded correspondingly. Week, trivial, useless idea might be perfectly developed and scientists for this part of the work have to be duly rewarded, despite of the fact, that they developed nobody care idea. More over the rank of developers should be based also on their ability to catch the essence of only sketchily expressed idea. The less amount of information they need from generators of ideas in order to understand how to develop the idea the higher the rank of developers. In existing system everything is mixed together. Especially in the universities research system. The ranking system at universities is based mostly on subjective factors how scientists, professors are evaluated by other professors earlier ranked by others as high ranking. As it is well known from the history any subjective ranking system has bad tendency of getting into a spiral of negative selection, i.e. every next generation of scientists might be worst, less efficient that previous.
4. Scientists should be encouraged to generate novel, original, potentially useful knowledge and should be especially well rewarded for generating widely used knowledge. The frequently criticized, but still flourishing paradigm “publish or perish” should be eliminated. A scientist who has proposed only one broadly used idea, briefly described, let us say, on his/her own web site, should be rewarded much better than a scientist who has published hundreds of papers in the most prestigious journals on research of little or no use to society.
5. The system of evaluating ideas and proposals should be open to any person who feels he/she is competent and competitive as a reviewer. One of the approach how it can be accomplished is described in my abandoned patent application
6. The notion and the system of coauthorship in science should be abolished and replaced by contributorship. See, for example, the website http://www.bmj.com/cgi/content/full/315/7110/696.
7. To achieve maximum efficiency, productivity, and quality, experimental work should be industrialized and performed primarily by professional scientists, instead of by students or postdocs in a university laboratory. The efficiency of professional experimentalists is orders of magnitude higher than that of average students. The experimental enterprises should be open to any qualified scientist to develop/verify his/her ideas. Likewise, there should be sufficient number of these enterprises to provide an environment of fair and honest competition among them.
9. Governmental funding mechanisms should anticipate the appearance of novel ideas about science organization and management . This mechanizm should provide equal opportunities for all scientists to compete with each other for financial support. Politically the existing in the world science organization system is looking as if it is based on an ideology of a single political party professing some sort of eclectic mixture of feudalism and romantic socialism. In contrast, the system suggested here rather fits in the framework of natural capitalism. It would not be difficult for any country to build a model of scientific support, in which scientists with politically different points of view can compete with each other for financial support. Lawmakers can encourage scientists to participate in preferable for them system by allocating disproportionably higher financial support.
10. Novel and original ideas and proposals of scientists and inventors must be better protected by the intellectual property law at least at the level of protection providing by the copyright law (see, for example web site www.usdsystem.com). In the current environment, writers, composers, and artists do not have to pay much for protection of their intellectual property. In case of arguments, disputes and/or controversies, those groups need only to provide sufficient court evidence that they were first to conceive of a written or artistic work. The existing patent fee system is nonsense and serves only to protect the interests of large and small companies, institutions and universities from competition by independent inventors. As in any situation with unfair competiton and practices, the biggest losers are the independent inventors and society as a whole. Threshold of patentability has to be raised dramatically. There is a flood of trivial, obvious, patents, not only in the business methods area like, for example, notorious “one-click” patent by Amazon..
11. First and foremost, future scientists must be taught how to generate, formulate, protect and evaluate ideas. Currently, what they are mostly being taught is how to develop ideas. There are deeply hidden and ugly roots why it has happened..
The simplest way to realize, to get into life described above model was discovered more than 100 years ago by the US legal theorist and political philosopher Lysander Spooner (1808 - 1887) (see, for example, web site http://www.lysanderspooner.org). L. Spooner's assay "The Law of Intellectual Property" can be found on this web site. Apparently independently similar ideas was suggested and developed somewhere in the 60-ties of last century by a physicist and sociologist Andrew J. Galambos (1927 -1997) (http://www.ajgalambosmemorial.net/). He developed the theory of primary property, which proclaims “the necessity for the total protection of intellectual property as a prerequisite for attaining, maintaining, and funding a durable civilization.“ This very revolutionary, interesting, undeservedly forgotten and important idea at least has rights to be a subject of worldwide research and studies. Generally speaking, the ideas of L. Spooner and A. Galambos was to provide for any original, nonobvious idea the same rights as for any tangible property. All other relevant mechanisms and principles of science management (might be similar to mentioned above) will appear automatically after that. It needs to be emphasized that without the Internet realization of the Spooner-Galambos ideology in the field of science was practically impossible. Right now it is time to revive the research in this area and may be get their ideas realized in real life of scientists.
Many scientists including the host of this web site also independently have come to the conclusion that the existing science organization system and especially scientific credits assignment system by “peer scientists” is too often subjective, making many mistakes, unfair, unhonest and the best way to restore fairness is better protection of ideas and proposals of scientists by Intellectual Property Law. I.e. clearly formulated IP law and opportunity to defend somebody’s rights on ideas in court will be much fair and honest way to provide credits and rewards for scientists than it is done nowadays by “peer scientists” .
Short remark about labelmania sickness in science. It is well known that this sickness was very prevalent in 70 - 80 ties of last century among the Communist Party leaders of the former Soviet Unioun. For example, Secretary General of Soviet Union Communist Party Leonid Brezhnev had labeled himself with five gold medals of Soviet Union Hero. No one in the country have never before had five Hero-medals. At that time it was the highest honor and reward in the country. The whole country was laughing up their sleeves about this. That was very shameful. Almost everyone understood that old boys, communist leaders, are simply grotesquely overzealous in rewarding themselves for inferior service to the country. Many different type of job promotions in the country was linked to the labels and communist leader to protect their privileges and positions against any competitors labeled themselves with a great passion. Similar type pernicious labelmania is flourishing in modern science. It is very shameful to see sometimes how high ranking scientists reward each other for doing trivial, sometimes even useless research and service. The correlation between the value of personal scientific contribution of scientists and the number and sort of their labels (PhD, professor, member or fellow of different type of societies and academies, recipient of different type of prizes etc) become less and less tangible, evident and comprehensible.
Another remark about reward system in science. Very often monetary reward of scientists i.e. their salary depends on many strange irrelevant factors [2-8]. Also to be hired for a scientific position as a rule future scientist or professor should have labeles like PhD, fellow or a member of certain elite scientific academies or societies, CV or resume and several letters of recommendations. This strange, often humiliating, invented by inflexible bureaucratic minds, requirements can not be accepted by many scientists. For example, precise and beautiful mind of Russian mathematician Grigorii Perelman could not accept this irrelevant ritual. “When a member of a hiring committee at Stanford asked him for a C.V. to include with requests for letters of recommendation, Perelman balked. “If they know my work, they don’t need my C.V.,” he said. “If they need my C.V., they don’t know my work.” . It is absolutely clear that if precise rank of scientists is known there is no need for them to present any CV and letters of recommendations. No one ask chess or tennis masters CV and letters of recommendation when they are invited to participate in competitions. To be promoted also many strange requirements have to be fulfilled. Generally speaking, the career of scientists depends on many irrelevant things. Instead of this irrelevancy here more objective system is suggested. The system is similar to chess master ranking. May be in science it will not be possible in the nearest future to develop the system as precise as in chess, but for sure it is possible and necessary to invent something which is much more precise in comparison with what we have now. As mentioned above this more precise system can be designed, for example, if the rank of scientists is separately measured in three categories: rank as a generator of ideas (GId), developer, reviewer-evaluator. In existing system everything is mixed together and therefore apparently nothing can be done to improve it. How can you compare without ranking, for example, sprinters and marathon runners, music composers and performers? The work of GId has more similarities with activity of sprinters and composers; developers - with marathon runners and music performers. In modern science it looks like a big crowd of sprinters and marathone runners is released to the stadium and “peer runners” (who are also running among other at the stadium) are ranking other runners without even measuring everybody’s performance or measuring something what is irrelevant to performance. For many people who have long career in science it is understandable that to work efficiently GIds and developers should have very different “brain software”. It would not be surprising to many of us if in the future the brain science will discover that those people should have also somehow different “brain hardware”. Some hints of this can be seen, for example, in a book .
- Nick Taylor, Laser:The Inventor, The Nobel Laureate, and the Thirty-Year Patent War, Citadel, 2003.
- C. J. Sykes, Profscam: Professors and the Demise of Higher Education, St. Martin’s Press, New York, 1988.
- G.S. Khromov, The science which we are loosing, Kosminform, Moscow, 1995.
- M. Anderson, Impostors in the temple. A Blueprint for Improving Higher Education in America, Hoover Institution Press, Stanford University, Stanford, California, 1996.
- D. Shapley, R. Roy, Lost at the Frontier. U.S. science and technology Policy Adrift, ISI Press, Philadelphia, 1985
- S. Rojstaczer, Gone for Good. Tales of University Life after the Golden Age, Oxford University Press, 1999.
- C.J. Lucas, Crisis in the Academy, Rethinking higher education in America. Si. Martin’s Press, New York, 1996.
- E.L. Boyer, Scholarship Reconsidered, Priorities of the Professoriate. Princeton University Press, 1990.
- Sylvia Nasar and David Gruber, Manifold Destiny. A legendary problem and the battle over who solved it. New Yorker, August 28, 2006.
- Robert Sternberg, Successful Intelligence: How Practical and Creative Intelligence Determine Success in Life, 1997
Copyright © 2008 by Oleg Matveev. All rights reseved
All comments and suggestions, please, send by e-mail
P.S. My second title of this essay "Open Science with "Naked" Scientists"
I added on July 15 2011 after reading about M Nielsen Open Science project-idea.
See web site http://www.guardian.co.uk/science/punctuated-equilibrium/2011/apr/19/1
My approach has some similarities, but nevertheless different because it is more developed in the field related to the reward system of science.
Please insert your text here.