Monday, October 31, 2011

Researchers with Open Data or Open Source are more likely to be cited

At the ETAP2 (Experimental and Theoretical Advances in Prosody) conference a strange thing happened while I was presenting my poster. A guy came over and spent about a half an hour talking to me about Open Data and Open Source. I got the sense that he was recruiting for something, but I assumed he was probably a professor looking for grad students.

After looking him up on the internet I discovered Heather Piwowar a PostDoc in Data One, a project sponsored at NASA to encourage researchers to keep their data (and their research) open and available. From what I can see they have some publications which show that if you keep your data open, and your source open, you're far more likely to be cited, which makes sense, people can open your data and look at it. By opening your data, you bring interest to your data and your research.

I'm trying to put my finger on why we as linguists are not completely confident in opening our data. I think one part of it is that we think someone else will publish our results as their own. For example, a friend of mine recently discovered that a rather famous researcher on their topic who was also a reviewer of their NSF dissertation grant, submitted a NSF grant proposal one year later, coincidentally to do fieldwork in the exact same city, on the same dialect and the same phenomena as their as yet unpublished dissertation.

Contrary to what we might think, putting our data online is actually one way to prove that we "discovered" it first. There will always be a server with a time stamp that shows that we published the information first. We feel like the only way we own our data and our work is by publishing it in a peer reviewed journal, but when it comes down to it, putting it online in a reputable open source repository like GitHub or open science repository like Open Wet Ware works like dating a copyright. For sure the data and findings needs to be published in a peer reviewed journal so others can cite you, but web links to your data can spread the word pretty fast, some times faster than a peer reviewed journal.

It was really exciting and validating to find out that there are projects and people out there helping us and encouraging us to keep our research as available as possible, and in fact those that engage in open research have more chance of getting tenure because they will indeed get citations and publications resulting from their open data.

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