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Article << Previous     |     Next >>   Contents Vol 59(5)

Open Source Research — the Power of Us

Thomas B. Kepler A, Marc A. Marti-Renom B, Stephen M. Maurer C, Arti K. Rai D, Ginger Taylor E, Matthew H. Todd F G

A Department of Biostatistics and Bioinformatics, Duke University, Durham NC 27708-0090, USA.
B Departments of Biopharmaceutical Sciences and Pharmaceutical Chemistry, and California Institute for Quantitative Biomedical Research, University of California, San Francisco CA 94143-2240, USA.
C Goldman School of Public Policy, University of California, Berkeley CA 94720-7320, USA.
D School of Law, Duke University, Durham NC 27708-0360, USA.
E The Synaptic Leap. www.thesynapticleap.org
F School of Chemistry, University of Sydney, Sydney NSW 2006, Australia.
G Corresponding author. Email: m.todd@chem.usyd.edu.au
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Academic and industrial scientific research operate on powerful and complementary models, consisting of some mix of competitive funding, peer review, and limited inter-laboratory collaboration. Enormous successes have arisen from both models. Yet there are clear failures to deliver results in certain areas, such as the provision of drugs for some of the most prevalent of human diseases. Is there a mechanism of research that is not wholly dependent on funding for its operation nor on traditional peer-reviewed articles for its propagation? Open source methods have delivered tangible benefits in the computer science community. We describe here efforts to extend these principles to science generally, and in particular biomedical research. Open source research holds great promise for solving complex problems in areas where profit-driven research is seen to have failed. We illustrate this with a specific problem in organic chemistry that we think will be solved substantially faster with an open source approach.


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