Open Science and Collaboration…
In 1675, a famous scientist said, “If I have seen further it is by standing on the shoulders of Giants”.
Isaac Newton’s statement tells the tale of science progressing by open collaboration
The knowledge silos in the American science culture can be defined by the Bayh-Dole Act (1980). Prior to Bayh-Dole, “ownership” of scientific progress inventions was assigned to the federal government if funded by the federal government. As a result, much of the inventiveness was not commercialized and left available for use by all. Much of the research was built upon Newton’s dictate. However, after the passage of Bayh-Dole, inventions done with federal money remained the property of the institution, which employed the inventor.
Clearly, this Act stimulated most American institutions to implement technology transfer licensing offices to out-license their employee inventions to commercial interests. The promise of riches from licensing patented inventions created an technology transfer industry. And from some perspectives this stimulation might serve the public good. Compartmentalizing knowledge was then adopted by European countries.
However, other perspectives might claim knowledge silos that kicked subsequent researchers from the “shoulders of Giants” did not serve the public good.
This is not to say that silos of knowledge are a bad thing. That decision is left to the reader. The thesis of this short and under explained article is that Western science may have swung too far into knowledge silos.
For example, some researchers, particularly in economically developing countries, lack funding and infrastructure. Those underserved scientists are generally kept from collaborating on a global scale with their colleagues in the West. Even paywalled journals reinforce the knowledge silos in which most researchers seek to publish. The paywalled journals are generally closed off to researchers who cannot afford the subscriptions. Fortunately this has given rise to alternative Open Access publishing models championed by such entities as PLOS, eLife, and F1000.
For the Western research that is not patented, published in paywalled journals, and commercialized, much is left buried in the libraries.
Most patented intellectual property (“IP”) is dormant and orphan (“dorphan”). In in those institutions where IP is not patented for whatever reason, it may only gain research attention after being published (if it is published). And the patented IP that is not out-licensed just sits in the technology transfer licensing offices costing organizations money and perhaps even negatively impacting the morale of inventors.
Some dorphan IP, if it could be managed differently might become part of a large scientific puzzle. But many of those pieces never make their way into the mosaic of progress.
What if the underserved researchers could use dorphan IP to further scientific progress in an Open Science model that includes Open Access; might there be room in the global science environment that compliments closed silos? What if that dorphan IP were opened and crowdsourced?
One researcher’s trash could be another’s treasure.
In short, an “Open IP” model that crowdsources dorphan IP might enable those underserved researchers to “stand on the shoulders” of their better funded and published researchers in the West to further scientific progress, particularly interdisciplinarily.
 Isaac Newton, Letter to Robert Hooke, 1675, accessed April 18, 2018 at https://discover.hsp.org/