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The Republic of Open Science: the institution’s historical origins and prospects for continued vitality

Paul David ()

No 2014-082, MERIT Working Papers from United Nations University - Maastricht Economic and Social Research Institute on Innovation and Technology (MERIT)

Abstract: In most modern economies scientific and technological research activities are conducted in two distinct organizational modes commercially oriented RD based upon proprietary information, and noncommercial open science. When taken together and kept in proper balance, these form a complementary pair of institutionally differentiated sub-systems. Each can work to amplify and augment the productivity of the other, thereby spurring long-term economic growth and improvements of social welfare in knowledge-driven societies. This paper considers the difference between historical origins of open science and its modern, critically important role in the allocation of research resources. The institutional structure of The Republic of Open Science generally is less well understood and has less robust self-sustaining foundations than the familiar non-cooperative market mechanisms associated with proprietary RD. Although they are better suited for the conduct of exploratory science, they also remain more vulnerable to damages from collateral effects of shifts in government policies, particularly those that impact their fiscal support and regulatory environments. After reviewing the several challenges that such policy actions during the 20th centurys closing decades had posed for continued effective collective explorations at the frontiers of scientific knowledge, the discussion examines the responses that those developments elicited from academic research communities. Those reactions to the threatened curtailment of timely access to data and technical information about new research methods and findings took the form of technical and organizational innovations designed to expand and enhance infrastructural protections for sustained open access in scientific and scholarly communications. They were practical, bottom-up initiatives to provide concrete, domain relevant tools and organizational routines whose adoption subsequently could be, and in the event were reinforced by top-down policy guidelines and regulatory steps by public funding agencies and international bodies. The non-politicized nature of that process, as well as its largely effective outcomes should be read cautiously as positive portents of the future vitality of the Republic of Open Science and of those societies that recognize, protect and adequately support this remarkable social innovation.

Keywords: Property Law; Intellectual Property Rights; Innovation and Invention (search for similar items in EconPapers)
JEL-codes: K11 O31 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2014
New Economics Papers: this item is included in nep-his, nep-hme, nep-hpe, nep-ino and nep-sog
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