personal research

Another Step in Keeping Pledges

Long-time readers of this blog might remember that, a while ago, I pledged to do pretty much Open Everything. Last week, a friend in my department asked how I managed that without having people steal my ideas. It’s a tough question, and I’m still not certain whether my answer has more to do with idealist naïveté or actual forward-thought. Time will tell. As it is, the pool of people doing similar work to mine is small, and they pretty much all know about this blog, so I’m confident the crowd of rabid academics will keep each other in check. Still, I suppose we all have to be on guard for the occasional evil professor, wearing his white lab coat, twirling his startling mustachio,  and just itching to steal the idle musings of a still-very-confused Ph.D. student.

In the interest of keeping up my pledge, I’ve decided to open up yet another document, this time for the purpose of student guidance. In 2010, I applied for the NSF Graduate Research Fellowship Program, a shockingly well-paying program that’ll surely help with the rising (and sometimes prohibitive) costs of graduate school. By several strokes of luck and (I hope) a decent project, the NSF sent the decision to fund me later that year, and I’ve had more time to focus on research ever since. In the interest of helping future applicants, I’ve posted my initial funding proposal on figshare. Over the next few weeks, there are a few other documents and datasets I plan on making public, and I’ll start a new page on this blog that consolidates all the material that I’ve opened, inspired by Ted Underwood’s similar page.

Click to get my NSF proposal.

Do you have grants or funding applications that’ve been accepted? Do you have publications out that are only accessible behind a drastic paywall? I urge you to post preprints, drafts, or whatever else you can to make scholarship a freer and more open endeavor for the benefit of all.

2 replies on “Another Step in Keeping Pledges”

The University of Florida libraries have seen very clear benefits (increasing interest in projects, gaining new collaborators for projects, serving as PR/marketing) from posting grant applications in the UF Digital Collections. We have a full collection specifically for grant proposals:
For large, collaborative projects, we’ve also found this to be specifically useful for ease of communication and project management as the grant projects proceed because it ensures everyone has ready access to the proposal. More recently, we’re trying to ensure that we also share all official press releases and all grant reports along with the funded proposals to help people better understand how grant projects normally proceed, best practices, and just to further develop a culture of grantsmanship for successful proposal writing, successful and easier grant project management, and successful next steps in terms of increasing impact from all projects. While the emphasis began on sharing proposals for larger grants, researchers have added individual fellowship proposals and the feedback has been similarly positive. Researchers for some projects have declined to share their proposals until after their project work and publication are complete for fear of being scooped, which seems like a valid concern in some instances. For many, it does not seem applicable and there do seem to be clear benefits from sharing the proposals.

I’m very interested to see how other people respond on this and for additional data (anecdotal or otherwise) on risks and benefits.

Personally I think the reason scientists won’t steal ideas is because we are putting them out there. As a fellow open scientist, I make all my research and data public domain. Others may attribute it with a share-alike license. Whatever the case is, generally speaking, you can’t steal ideas that are being offered to the world. That may have a lot to do with it. The current pool of participants being small may also have something to do with it (like you suggest). I recently wrote a bunch of thoughts on this here.

And that’s great that you published your funded proposal. I took the concept a step further and wrote an NSF IGERT proposal openly and published it here. Hopefully it gets funded but if not hopefully I or someone can build on it in the future. Whatever pushes science forward right?

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