Science Doesn’t Need To Be So Secretive: Revolutionizing Scientific Discoveries

Rachel Harding is a scientist at the University of Toronto studying Huntington’s disease. She has begun blogging her research results. Harding is a post-doctoral fellow working with Structural Genomics Consortium. The gene that causes Huntington’s disease was identified in 1993. Ever since, science has been trying to figure out how this gene goes on to cause the symptoms of Huntington’s: mental decline, jerky movements, and emotional changes.

She is using her website, Lab Scribbles, to present her findings in real time. This could really revolutionize scientific discoveries. Scientists could easily use the Internet to collaborate on research and experiments with colleagues around the world. Harding believes that it could benefit her work to have other scientists looking at it. They could not only correct when she is wrong, but contribute to her research.

Traditionally, scientific discoveries are published in high profile scientific journals. The researchers are secretive with their work and don’t share with anyone for fear that their discoveries might be stolen by another scientist.

Harding believes that this practice can hinder scientific discoveries. It can lead to different labs all working on the same project because no one knows what the others are working on. Working online could speed up the process. Under the current system it can take years for a scientific discovery to be published and spread into the general community.

Harding started doing her blog in February. It’s too early to tell if this method could be feasible in science. But, it is definitely a promising idea. She first uploaded her research onto Zenodo, a publishing website for the scientific community. Zenodo is an initiative by the European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN). She hopes to connect to other researchers as well as engaging within the patient communities.

Featured image by Mars P. via flickr, available under Creative Commons 2.0 license.


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