Author and Article Information
Author infoShoko Mori
PublishedNov 19 2014
CitationMori S (2014) A thought to “Science for Generation Open”—Hope and concern to the future of science Science Postprint 1(1): e00037. doi: 10.14340/spp.2014.11E0002
SPARC Japan seminar [1–3] on October 21 set the keyword of “Generation Open,” which was based on the theme of Open Access Week 2014 by SPARC that focused on young scientists and students as key people to reform the world of science .
These days, there is a movement of a huge reformation on the world of science which changes science from only for academism community to science also for citizens. We might exactly say the movement as “science of the people, by the people, for the people.”
However, the movement itself is not new at all. Since ancient era, science was thought to be very close to religions, philosophy and art as a root of the people life and social recognition, e.g., Aristotle and Leonardo da Vinci. Therefore, the present reformation movement could be thought as a sort of going back to the root.
The turning point of the world of science to this movement is the development of internet and social media. By the development of the internet, science became more accessible for citizens. By development of social media, anyone can share information easily and can reply immediately. Sharing interesting academic article through twitter or blog and sharing scientific research through video posting site illustrating it in a comprehensible and attractive way are becoming very popular in Japan and followed by a huge number of people. Most of the senders of such information are young researchers, students, or “bio-hackers” who aspire biology research without any support by large enterprises or research institutes. The young generation, main user of social media, has become key people of making science easily accessible for citizens. Now citizens are beginning to “consume” science as an entertainment.
On the other hand, it is true that citizens’ enthusiasm itself, and citizens who have interest and concern about science are still limited. For instance, the term “biodiversity,” which is a key word to talk about global warming and environmental change is known only by 16.7% of Japanese people and 52.4% have never heard about it . This result was very shocking to me as an ecologist, but that explains well a gap of understanding between researchers and citizens. In such situation, researchers’ alert is very hard to reach to citizens. The gap exists on all fields of science. It is expected that young researchers of “Generation Open” further strengthen their sending ability to fill the gap between researchers and citizens in terms of the baseline of knowledge to discuss the problem in order to reach informed decision.
Reliability of scientific information on social media is another thing to remember. One of the advantage of reporting scientific information through social media is in its convenience. It can be a torch of hope to break researchers’ cooped-up feeling who used to have only a way to share their research achievement via publication in academic journals with strict peer reviewing. However, distributing outcomes without peer reviewing means information reaches citizens without filtering and certification of a level of research integrity given by peer reviewers. Surely, that does not mean all of the peer reviewed articles should be trusted in any circumstances. Even in the articles that have passed peer review, mistakes of contents are found through development of science, and miss writing or miss-understanding may be found regardless of their maliciousness. Still, since peer reviewing has played an important role to guarantee the reliability of articles, citizens will face necessity to make informed decision, judging scientific information not only by their interest or enthusiasm, but also by its academic reliability and democratic social requirements before very long, given the fact that sharing scientific information is accelerated through social media.
In the future, citizens will be required to have enough science literacy to reach objective informed decision not to be manipulated by uncertain information. It is not just about science, but also a problem of social media literacy as well. School education and lifelong learning will go long way toward such literacy, which enables people to sum up a range of science information and make selection. The ability will become a basis of hopeful future in which researchers and citizens equally share the wonder of science, which will surely result in the science development for us living creatures and the earth.
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