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Call For Open Science

February 4, 2010

Science and human knowledge need urgently to be opened up to the global public if we are to head off the six major crises that overshadow the human destiny in the coming 40 years.

That’s the message of a new book “Open Science: Sharing Knowledge in the Global Century”, released this month by CSIRO Publishing.

Open Science is about how we address the profound challenges which now confront humanity ““ resource scarcity, the food crisis, climate change, pollution, pandemic disease and poverty ““ through science communication.

It calls for the sharing of scientific knowledge among billions of humans on a scale never before attempted.

Written by science communicators Julian Cribb (Australia) and Tjempaka Sari (Indonesia) the book explores the reasons we need to unlock human knowledge more urgently than ever before ““ and practical ways that researchers, scientific organisations, governments and innovators can do this.

The book argues that the knowledge to solve many of the challenges confronting humanity already exists or is being developed ““ but it is poorly disseminated, leaving large parts of humanity without the knowhow or technology to tackle problems such as water scarcity, energy shortages, hunger, pollution, disease and environmental degradation.

Production of human knowledge now doubles every five years ““ yet much is kept secret, withheld as intellectual property or is simply never communicated outside of science.

“A vast gap has opened between the creation and the sharing of knowledge. Because of this, a significant part of the world scientific effort is effectively stillborn, or fails to achieve its potential. The intellectual effort, time, money and human genius that is invested in research is lost because of a failure to effectively transmit the fruits of science to the people and places where it is most needed,” the book argues.

Open Science goes on to offer practical ways to communicate science in a highly networked world where billions of people still have little or no access to advanced knowledge or technologies. The authors describe low-cost, effective means to transfer knowledge to target audiences in industry, government, the community and to the public at large.

The book features sections on good science writing, practical advice on how to develop communication and media plans, ways to measure communication performance, how to manage institutional “Ëœcrises’, how to deal with politicians, the media and public on complex issues and much more.

It outlines a new technique for assessing the likely public reaction to major new technologies with the power to affect millions of lives, to avoid the growing phenomenon of “technology rejection”.

The issues raised in Open Science are explored in an ABC Radio National FutureTense program today (February 4, 8.30 am). Details: http://www.abc.net.au/rn/futuretense

They will also be discussed in a major panel session on open science at the Australian Science Communicators National Conference at the Australian National University on Tuesday, February 9, at 4.15pm at the RSC Lecture Theatre, Building 36.

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