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Book Review: Reinventing Discovery by Michael Nielsen

Martin Fenner
October 22, 2011 1 min read

(https://web.archive.org/web/20120525040623/http://press.princeton.edu/titles/9517.html?)Reinventing Discovery (https://web.archive.org/web/20120525040623/http://press.princeton.edu/titles/9517.html?), the book by Michael Nielsen we all have been waiting for, has finally been published on Friday. Today I flew to Boston for the Microsoft Research eScience Workshop: Transforming Scholarly Communication (https://web.archive.org/web/20120525040623/http://research.microsoft.com/en-us/events/escience2011-scholarly-communications/agenda.aspx?), and reading the book on the plane was the perfect preparation for the workshop.

Michael says in the book:

I wrote this book with the goal of lightning an almighty fire under the scientific community. … We have an opportunity to change the way knowledge is constructed.

You can download the chapter 1 as PDF (https://web.archive.org/web/20120525040623/http://press.princeton.edu/chapters/s9517.pdf?), and you can also watch the videos of two of his recent presentations: TEDx Waterloo (https://web.archive.org/web/20120525040623/http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DnWocYKqvhw?) in March and Science Online London (https://web.archive.org/web/20120525040623/http://river-valley.tv/keynote-solo2011/?) in September.

The book uses examples from science and related disciplines – e.g. programming or chess – to examine both the opportunities and challenges of doing Open Science. The book is good reading, because Michael is aware of the many challenges that we face before science can be done differently. One example for this is the peer-reviewed journal article as the main currency to evaluate researchers. Until scientists are also rewarded for producing or curating data, programming scientific software, etc., we will not be able to start a new era of networked science.

Highly recommended reading.

Timo Hannay has also written a review of the book (https://doi.org/10.1038/nphys2109?) for Nature Physics, and I’m sure we will soon see many more.

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