Monday, 15 September 2008

David de Roure on "the new e-Science"

I was at the eScience All Hands meeting last week, and unfortunately missed a presentation by David de Roure on the New e-Science, an update on a talk he gave 10 months ago. The slides are available on Slideshare, but David has agreed I can share his summary:
"1. Increasing scale and diversity of participation
Decreasing cost of entry into digital research means more people, data, tools and methods. Anyone can participate: researchers in labs, archaeologists in digs or schoolchildren designing antimalarial drugs. Citizen science! Improved capabilities of digital research (e.g. increasing automation, ease of collaboration) incentivises this participation. "You're letting the oiks in!" people cry, but peer review benefits from scale of participation too. "Long Tail Science"

2. Increasing scale and diversity of data
Deluge due to new experimental methods (microarrays, combinatorial chemistry, sensor networks, earth observation, ...) and also (1). Increasing scale, diversity and complexity of digital material, processed separately and in combination. New digital artefacts like workflows, provenance, ontologies and lab books. Context and provenance essential for re-use, quality and trust. Digital Curation challenge!

3. Sharing
Anyone can play and they can play together. Anyone can be a publisher as well as a consumer - everyone's a first class citizen. Science has always been a social process, but now we're using new social tools for it. Evidenced by use of wikis, blogs, instant messaging. The lifecycle goes faster, we accelerate research and reduce time-to-experiment.

4. Collective Intelligence
Increasing participation means network effects through community intelligence: tagging, reviewing, discussion. Recommendation based on usage. This is in fact the only significant breakthrough in distributed systems in the last 30 years. Community curation: combat workflow decay!

5. Open Research
Publicly available data but also the open services and software tools of open science. Increasing adoption of Science Commons, open access journals, open data and linked data (formerly known as Semantic Web), PLoS, ... Open notebook science

6. Sharing Methods
Scripts, workflows, experimental plans, statistical models, ... Makes research repeatable, reproducible and reusable. Propagates expertise. Builds reputation. See Usefulchem, myExperiment.

7. Empowering researchers
Increasing facility with new tools puts the researchers in control - of their software/data apparatus and their experiments. Empowerment enables creativity and creation of new, sharable methods. Tools that take away autonomy will be resisted. Beware accidental disempowerment! Ultimately automation frees the researcher to do what they're best at, but can also be disempowering.

8. Better not perfect
Researchers will choose tools that are better than what they had before but not necessarily perfect. This force encourages bottom-up innovation in the practice of research. It opposes the adoption of over-engineered computer science solutions to problems researchers don't know they have and perhaps never will.

9. Pervasive deployment
Increasingly rich intersection between the physical and digital worlds through devices and instruments. Web-based interfaces not software downloads. Shift towards devices and the cloud. REST architecture coupling components that transcend their application.

10. Standing on the shoulders of giants
e-Science is now enabling researchers to do some completely new stuff! As the pieces become easy to use, researchers can bring them together in new ways and ask new questions. Boundaries are shifting, practice is changing. Ease of assembly and automation is essential."
The presentation is well worth looking at as well for the extra material David includes. I thought the more open and inclusive approach to e-Science (or Cyber-infrastructure) was well worth including here. The word "heroic" appears on his slides in relation to the Grid, which sums up my concerns, I think!

1 comment:

  1. 4. Collective Intelligence
    On that note let me share with you something that i came across recently this web 2.0 based free service helps discovering newer scientific relations across abstracts. it provides manually curated and annotated sentences for the keywords of your choice.maps the extracted entities (genes, processes, drugs, diseases etc) to multiple ontologies. just play around with their drug, disease, etc entity types and you can actually track a drug or process across various diseases across abstracts :)

    its cool, its FREE, check it out

    Users actually publicly tag and share their sentences and build and contribute to the collective intelligence with in XTractor


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