Open Notebook Social Science

OCTOBER 22, 2009

The other day I posted up some work-in-progress on the subject of patterns of knowledge production.

That material is still in a fairly preliminary state. However, my decision to release it it in this form was a conscious decision and part of an ongoing attempt on my part to practice a more open “release early, release often” approach to research.

In doing this I’m drawing direct inspiration from the open source and open notebook (science) communities and seeking to engage in what might be termed open notebook social science!

I think most researchers (including myself) feel a reluctance to put out material that isn’t at a reasonable level of maturity. While there are some good reasons for this, I think the main motivations are less positive, and are primarily to do with fear: be it of criticism or that your ideas are “taken” by others. While such fears can have some basis, it seems to me the benefits of an open approach – in terms of visibility, dissemination, and potential for collaboration – significantly outweigh any of the associated risks.

Over the last year, I’ve already been making some effort to move in this direction but from this point on I’m aiming to do this more thoroughly and methodically. A first step in this will be to put all the “patterns” and data online.