by Peter Lincoln 24 Jun, 2014 in
The Department of Energy recently issued its latest Open Government Plan, and the document recognizes the DOE Office of Scientific and Technical Information (OSTI) for advancing open government and the principles of transparency, participation, and collaboration by making scientific and technical information (STI) publicly available.
On his first day in office in January 2009, President Obama signed the Memorandum of Transparency and Open Government, which called on agencies to provide “an unprecedented level of openness in government” and instructed the Director of the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) to prepare a directive to “establish a system of transparency, public participation, and collaboration” throughout the federal government. The Administration’s open government directive subsequently issued by OMB required each executive departments and agency to prepare and issue an open government plan in 2010 and every two years thereafter.
OSTI grew out of the post-World War II initiative to make the declassified scientific research of the Manhattan Project as freely available to the public as possible, and throughout its 67-year history, OSTI has built very large collections of energy-related STI, emanating primarily from the work of DOE and its predecessor agencies. Today OSTI makes these STI collections available through sophisticated web products, and its R&D results are accessed more than 400 million times annually.
The DOE Open Government Plan 3.0, published June 1, 2014, included four OSTI products. Featured as new collaboration...Read more...
Turning points in history – things or events that define lasting change in the world we know. The industrial revolution, Henry Ford’s automobile, penicillin, Einstein’s theory of relativity, firsts in aviation and space, the discovery of electricity, and the digital computer invention were some of these turning points. The landmark observation of the long sought Higgs-like particle or boson in July 2012 is such a turning point.
The Higgs had been the last undiscovered particle predicted by the Standard Model, a theory that describes the fundamental particles of matter and the interactions that work between them. Using massive amounts of data from the Large Hadron Collider, international collaborations announced in March 2013 that new evidence strengthens the case that scientists have discovered a Higgs boson and appears to confirm that a Higgs field really exists. Understanding the mysteries of our universe - why particles have mass and why we and everything about us exist - is just beginning with this discovery. Physicists now have a direction for exploration of the Standard Model and if it should be changed.
Read about the Higgs boson experiments, new accelerator designs, and further explorations in Dr. William Watson’s latest white paper ...Read more...
DOE OSTI recently hosted a graduate student from the University of Michigan (UM) School of Information (SI) for a week in our Germantown offices. The student, Ryan Tabor, was participating in the UM SI Alternative Spring Break (ASB) program, which matches graduate students with professional-experience projects identified by host organizations. Ryan's graduate school specialty area is human-computer interaction. That, coupled with his undergraduate degree in psychology and his work experience on IT Help Desks, created a great match for OSTI's project -- a usability study of DOE R&D Accomplishments.
Ryan tested and evaluated the site via various methodologies and reported his findings and recommendations. He provided some valuable insights which will result in an even more user-friendly website. This collaboration was mutually beneficial in that Ryan gained experience by working in a professional environment doing professional-level work and OSTI gained from having a 'third-party' review and feedback about one of its core products.
Mary SchornRead more...
My mother died in March 2010 after a 15-year battle with Alzheimer’s, so I pay particular attention to news about this dreadful disease. A recent New York Times article caught my eye: “Sharing of Data Leads to Progress on Alzheimer's.”
How did sharing data lead to progress on Alzheimer’s? A collaborative effort, the Alzheimer’s Disease Neuroimaging Initiative, was formed to find the biological markers that show the progression of Alzheimer’s disease in the human brain. The key was to share all the data, making every finding public immediately – “available to anyone with a computer anywhere in the world.”
Alzheimer’s research is an enormous task with limited returns. Dr. Michael W. Weiner of the San Francisco Department of Veterans Affairs said “Different people using different methods on different subjects in different places were getting different results, which is not surprising. What was needed was to get everyone together and to get a common data set.” Numerous entities were willing to shoulder the burden and work together on the project, sharing their information for the good of all.
According to Dr. John Q. Trojanowski, an Alzheimer’s researcher at the University of Pennsylvania, “It’s not science the way most of us have practiced it in our careers. But we all realized that we would never get biomarkers unless all of us parked our egos and intellectual-property noses outside the door and agreed that all of our data would be public immediately.” The National institutes of Health served as an “honest broker, between the pharmaceutical industry and academia.”
by David Kaiser (MIT) and Luis Bettencourt (LANL)
For some time, we and OSTI have been interested in the question of how new scientific ideas spread. What does it take for the "next big thing" to leap from one person's head to an active community of researchers? Do those shared ideas or techniques bind the community together more tightly than before, perhaps even helping to define a new research field that didn't exist before? And if so, how might we detect and measure such shifts in the space of researchers and ideas?
One interesting possibility is to study changes in the structure of collaboration networks over time. For example, imagine that Alice writes a scientific article with Bashir. Some time later, Bashir writes a different article with Carlos, while Alice writes a new paper with Dwayne. Those four authors are now connected by co-authorship links: Alice directly with Bashir and Dwayne, and--thanks to Bashir's separate article with Carlos--Alice and Carlos are connected, too. We may call that collection of nodes (authors) and links (co-authorship ties) a collaboration network.
We might expect that the pattern of change over time in these collaboration networks would vary widely with scientific field or discipline. After all, articles in theoretical physics tend to have far fewer co-authors than do articles on biomedical topics. Fields also have different average rates at which researchers write articles in any given year. And yet we have found some surprising regularities lurking beneath what otherwise appear to be rather different modes of behavior.
We have published some of these findings in a recent paper--L. Bettencourt, D. Kaiser, and J. Kaur, "Scientific discovery and topological transitions in collaboration networks," Journal of...Read more...