Decentralized Science: The New Opportunity for Research Data Management

Data management can be a challenge for scientists working in silos. From ensuring data is correctly labeled to maintaining secure backups, the process can be time-consuming and difficult to keep track of. What’s more, as data management gets more hectic, more human errors occur, leading to disastrous consequences.

In recent years, however, there has been a shift towards decentralization in scientific research. This means that instead of each scientist working independently, they can share data and work together on projects. This not only saves time but also allows for better collaboration and advances the overall state of scientific endeavor. A decentralized approach to research data management can help streamline the process and enable collaboration between scientists.

In the past, scientists have often worked in isolated environments with little data sharing or collaboration. For example, a scientist in one lab might be working on a particular disease while another scientist in a different lab is researching a cure for the same disease. However, they may never share their data or collaborate because each lab is focused on its research. Plus, some scientists may be reluctant to share their data for fear of being scooped.

However, a new decentralized model of scientific research is emerging, and it’s changing the way data is managed. In this model, scientists can share data and collaborate more easily. Plus, with the help of technology, they can manage their data more effectively.

Decentralized data management: What it looks like

Decentralization through decentralized ledger technologies is being enabled by several startups. Already, several companies are coming up with ways to help scientists store, share, and manage their data more effectively.

The data management system of a decentralized science-based organization can be permissionless, which would allow anyone to join the network and contribute data. Alternatively, it could be permissioned, which would require scientists to be verified before they can contribute data.

In either case, the data would be stored on a decentralized ledger, such as a blockchain. This would ensure that the data is secure and tamper-proof. Plus, it would allow scientists to access the data from anywhere in the world.

Decentralization, especially through blockchain technology, also comes with the prospects of using smart contracts in research data management. Smart contracts are computer protocols that can automatically execute the terms of a contract. For example, a smart contract could be used to automatically release data once it’s been peer-reviewed and published in a journal.

In addition, bringing decentralization to the management of scientific research data can help to ensure the data is FAIR: findable, accessible, interoperable, and reusable. The FAIR data principles are a set of guidelines that aim to make data more accessible and usable.

Risks of Decentralizing data management in Science

There are some risks associated with decentralizing data management in science. For example, if the data is stored on a decentralized ledger, such as a blockchain, it could be lost if the ledger is not properly maintained.

Plus, there’s always the risk that hackers could gain access to the data. However, this risk can be mitigated by storing the data on a decentralized ledger that is not connected to the internet.

Another risk is that scientists may not be able to verify the data before it’s published. This could lead to the spread of false information. However, this risk can be mitigated by using smart contracts that automatically release data once it’s been verified by a certain number of scientists.

The benefits of decentralization in science

There is a long list of problems in science that could be solved by decentralization. As mentioned above, data sharing and collaboration are often hindered by siloed structures and a lack of incentives to share data. Other problems include the difficulty of accessing data, the lack of transparency in the peer-review process, and the high cost of scientific journals.

Decentralization has the potential to solve all of these problems and more. By enabling scientists to share data and collaborate more easily, decentralization can help to advance science. In addition, decentralized data management can help to make data more FAIR, which would make it easier for other scientists to use.

Plus, decentralization could also help to reduce the cost of scientific journals. Currently, many journals charge high subscription fees, which can make it difficult for scientists to access the latest research. However, with a decentralized system, journals could be funded through micro-payments, which would make them more affordable.

Conclusion: Science DAO

There is a growing need for decentralization in scientific research, and several organizations such as Science DAO are already working on decentralized solutions.

ScienceDAO is one of the top blockchain-based projects working toward a decentralized future of science. ScienceDAO operates as a think tank for investors, scientists, and entrepreneurs who want to foster emerging technologies by directing resources to the most promising scientific breakthroughs.

It does this by providing a platform for collaboration and funding of early-stage science projects through the use of blockchain technology, smart contracts, and tokens.

In terms of scientific research data management, Science DAO takes on a three-pronged approach which includes data discovery, data curation, and data sharing.

As an incubator engine and accelerator platform, ScienceDAO is paving the way for a new model of scientific research and development that is more efficient, collaborative, and decentralized.

Carolyn Coley is a blockchain reporter. She joined Smartereum after graduating from UC Berkeley in 2018.


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