Doing science in the open---thoughts from Michael Nielsen

Yesterday I attended a workshop led by Michael Nielsen on the topic of open science. Nielsen is a theoretical physicist who co-authored the standard text on quantum computation (the most-cited physics publication in the last 25 years). Nielsen has since shifted focus toward the future of how scientific discoveries are made, which was the topic of this lecture. The primary question of his talk:

Can open source principles be applied to solve scientific problems?

Nielsen covered a number interesting topics in the open science movement ranging from the Polymath Project to the Bermuda Principles. For a great distillation of the material, you can check out Nielsen’s essay The Future of Science, his book Reinventing Discovery: The New Era of Networked Science, or his talk at TEDxWaterloo from earlier this year:

Here are the things I left the workshop thinking about:

I got the chance to chat with Michael afterwards. I asked if he could elaborate on best practices for graduate students wishing to launch careers consistent with open science ideals. My takeaways from our chat:

Overall the lecture was just as fascinating as I’d hoped. I love working at a university that attracts such events and can’t believe more people don’t attend these sorts of things.

What do you think are the most important questions or points about science in the open?

UPDATE (2011-10-10): Michael Nielsen’s book on this broad topic just came out. Reinventing Discovery: The New Era of Networked Science (affiliate link)