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A Digital Collaborative Revolution? Digital Tools and Practices of Collaboration

A Digital Collaborative Revolution in Science? Digital Tools and Practices of Collaboration are introduced.
© This work by Clemens Blümel is licensed under CC BY 4.0.

According to some promotors of Open Science, at least some of these challenges and problems in scholarly collaboration can be overcome. With the sciences becoming more digital, expectations have risen that this would result in a new collaborative revolution, leading to a more intense, holistic and professional culture of collaboration by means of practices emerging from the Open Source communities (Fecher & Friesike, 2014).

Open Source communities in the IT industry have established novel infrastructures, values and organizational settings that allow for intense interaction and the development of commonly accessible tools addressing a wide range of different problems (Aversano & Tortorella, 2011).

They have also established mechanisms and procedures to continuously improve the quality of the processes leading to these common infrastructures (Spinellis et al., 2009). Ideas and values of the Open source communities are present in debates about Open Science, such as in the context of Open Data.

It is hence no wonder that transfer of practices from the Open Source communities to scholarship was demanded. Already in 2009, scholar Michael Nielsen asked during a TedTalk: “Can open source principles be applied to change the way we solve problems in science”? In his book, published in 2012, he argued that digital technologies and processes adapted from software development could change collaborative culture in science (Nielsen, 2012).

Data intensive collaboration for finding novel solutions could take place on common accessible scientific infrastructure. Moreover, it was imagined that the organization of work and division of labor in science could be improved by using digital tools that allow for more intense and professionalized collaboration.

The vision was that digitalization would lead to a more vital, efficient and intense culture of scholarly collaboration and knowledge production across the globe. Similarly, Caroline Wagner expected a novel age of collaboration in academia driven by electronic infrastructures crossing the boundaries of current knowledge production systems (Wagner, 2018).

© This work by Clemens Blümel is licensed under CC BY 4.0.
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