Science as a Social System and Virtual Research Environment

Sergey Parinov, Cameron Neylon
2011 Journal of Artificial Societies and Social Simulation  
The accumulation of gradual changes in scientific landscape and research practice due to the Internet has the potential to enhance the quality of both cognitive and social aspects of science and scientists. New types of research outputs, modes of scientific communication and new circulation mechanisms, as well as enhanced opportunities for scientific re-use and measuring research impact, in combination with new approaches to research assessment and evaluation are all having profound effects on
more » ... rofound effects on the social system of science. To be sure that these innovations will not break the social sustainability of the science community, it will be valuable to develop a model of science as a tool for computer simulation of social consequences from possible innovations within virtual research environment. Focusing on possible social problems related to these new virtual research environments this short paper provides a brief analysis of the current situation in science (challenges, problems, main actors), general views on model of science (landscape, main agents, important properties, etc.) and on areas where simulation can contribute to better understanding of possible futures for the scientific community. Preface 2.1 Research information systems (RIS) offer great opportunities for progress for the community of scientists but may also poze potential hazards for the sustainability of Science as a social system. The development of communication technology, virtual research environments, and the new possibilities in tracking and monitoring research outputs can radically change traditional relations among the main actors of the Science social system including researchers, managers, funders, and publishers. 2.2 One approach to identifying possible social risks for community is to develop simulations of "Science System" behavior under different scenarios representing possible changes within the research environment, including changing circulation mechanisms for research outputs, developments in science communication, changes to the research outputs life-cycle, the monitoring of the impact of research at both personal and organizational levels, changes in research funding policy, and so on. 2.3 The RIS developers' community alongside the social simulation community could build models of the Science social system to analyze the possible social consequences of RIS technical innovations. It will allow the optimization of the efficiency and effectiveness of research virtual environments in effecting desired changes while avoiding the risk of community breakdown. Current situation in science 3.1 The internet is rapidly changing scientific circulation mechanisms, research life cycles, science communication and is starting to change the fundamentals general research practice and motivation. Information technology creates a space for radical innovation in many areas of the science system. It allows research funders and government to focus more and more on how the outputs of research are being applied beyond the research community (Neylon 2009a). At the same time the Open Research agenda ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Open_research;Neylon 2009b) with its focus on enabling and supporting the wider re-use of research outputs is gaining momentum on a range of fronts. Researchers in turn are exploring new approaches of research communication with the aim of increasing the efficiency of communication and the ability for these outputs to reach beyond the research community, yet frequently these non-traditional outputs are seen as "not counting" even when they may have greater impact (Neylon 2010).
doi:10.18564/jasss.1835 fatcat:irre6dhpsrd5rmmtzprx6i7gja