Blockchain: Changing How We Do Science | Nix

By: Rebecca Clinton-Floyed

6, November, 2019

Categories:

Blockchain -

  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  

Blockchain is changing the world as we know it. With blockchain, data can be managed in new and innovative ways that provides a level of security and privacy previously unavailable. Perhaps the most surprising factor is that all of this is available without an overarching central authority due to blockchain’s self-regulating nature.

Science is one area where blockchain technology has made significant inroads. Three pillars of blockchain technology include decentralization, transparency, and immutability. Within scientific circles, aside from the initial experimentation phase, all other parts of the research cycle can take place within a blockchain system.

Being able to provide an accurate representation of information and data found during research efforts opens the doors for scientific knowledge sharing. In addition with publication and attribution in a secure ecosystem, data will be more comprehensible and provable. Currently, data provided by scientists needs to be checked for veracity upon completion of the study. This can significantly extend the time required.

With blockchain, however, data can be verified during the course of the study itself. Science by definition is the systematic study or replicable steps. Self-correcting science uses objective processes that include updates regarding new beliefs and information regarding the world.

How is Blockchain Changing the Way We Do Science?

Funding for Research

Funding for research purposes has always been challenging to establish. Blockchain allows research funding to be transparent and more efficient than ever. This new and improved, way of funding projects provides a list of grants from around the globe, which makes it easier to compare grants and make the best choice based on the specific needs of the current project.

If you’re interested in the bounty-based funding, blockchain also provides a public ledger that contains information regarding available open projects and their payments. Even better news, both traditional and bounty-based funding options support replications.

Managing Data

Data management can be difficult, especially when it comes to reproducibility. Scientists need to be able to reproduce data and validate results. Collective reporting, rushing to finish reports, and inadequate or improper use of statistics makes the replication of this data difficult. Continuously changing protocols is also a culprit for the difficulty of replicating.

Blockchain platforms help with bringing information together and managing them. While the occurrences of scientists falsifying data are fortunately small, they do still happen. Blockchain helps scientists detect data faking by allowing them to validate all reported analyses.

Another critical feature that blockchain offers is the ability to combine data sets and reuse data. These data sets can bed used to provide answers and solutions to new questions that arise. Blockchain offers different perks, including apps that archive data when it’s collected. In addition automation through the use of smart contracts within blockchain ensure that data is managed and shared correctly.

Review and Publication

Peer review occurs when a colleague or professional in the same field views and sometimes edits your work. The science content is edited and assessed before being published in a science journal. This approval and publication process is long and drawn out, however.

Blockchain is a significant game-changer in the peer and review process because it makes this entire process transparent and trustworthy, which is something it’s never been. Blockchain helps save money by creating a public record of the publication process. Academic journals for blockchain are also available. This innovative feature gives its submitters two essential factors; trust and security.

In addition, reviewers can be compensated for their time and effort while scientists can also receive compensation for their work. This provides an incentive to both parties which can only improve the scientific process.

Attribution and Credit

The citation index for science was created in the 1960s, and it measures a researcher’s performance. This index can be a gift and a curse, depending on how you view the facts. The index structure is far from perfect. Although researcher performance has become more influential, it’s more controversial than ever as the index primarily measures journal output versus the quality of the work itself. This often means that work focused on validating research results does not receive the same level of attention or value.

Our partners in the US – blockchain-based platform for scientific and academic research, ARTiFACTS – have proven that leveraging distributed ledger technology can improve this process, however. They have demonstrated that researchers can not only demonstrate ownership of work through blockchain but also improve access and understanding through this medium. With researchers compensated for new work and other scientists being compensated for validating the quality of work, they are helping to increase the body of scientific knowledge.

What Are the Solutions Blockchain Can Offer?

Editing Visibility

Using the blockchain platform offers editing visibility. Each edit that is made can be viewed and tracked permanently, which allows everyone to be more productive. When the blockchain is used for research purposes, the activity of its users is stored automatically, which means analysis, review, and data edits are always available and transparent. One of the biggest perks of using blockchain in this situation is fraud prevention.

Workflow Transparency

Once the editorial board approved the content, publishers can make the content available to a variety of academic communities. With the use of different online platforms, there are large academic communities that have quick access to new content.

Digital rights management is also improved. This management is useful and straightforward, but blockchain enhances digital rights management by simplifying complicated instances, including royalties, permissions, and reusing different complex variants. When smart contracts and central databases are combined, this results in a wide range of benefits.

Content use can be closely followed due through the use of blockchain also. Currently, content and research information can be downloaded and shared on different platforms, but the usage of the content can’t be tracked. Popular platforms include PubMed Central and Research Gate. However, with blockchain at the heart of content distribution, these platforms could be bypassed providing a higher level of oversight.

The Tokenization of Science

Currently, publishers take information provided to them for free from scientists and then charge the public for access. This is something that can be changed and adjusted with blockchain. As scientists gain the ability to take a greater level of ownership of their data, they can also receive a larger proportion of any revenue gains. A further prospect is creating a cryptocurrency around the scientific blockchain. This directly adds economic weight to the blockchain.

What’s in Store for the Future of Blockchain in Science?

Over the years, science has evolved many times and will continue to do so as time progresses. The continuous advances in technology will change the way people involve themselves with science and the different ways everyone can implement technology in science to get desirable results.

The world of online publishing and academics will continue to be a challenge for all parties involved. The transition process in any situation is challenging, but the transition to blockchain promises to be the most challenging. Success in this instance will depend upon how well blockchain is implemented throughout its entire process and how well the involved parties understand how the blockchain process works. The question is, how can blockchain change science? Blockchain has a chance to be successful in science, but it will take a lot of hard work from its users to understand how it works and how it should be used to redeem the most benefits.

Before anyone considers using blockchain for their business, they need to consider the different ways using the platform will benefit their business and the initial costs of implementing this platform in their company. Potential users of blockchain need to be prepared to perform several trial-and-error processes to determine how blockchain can be used to benefit the entire company, not only one department.

On November 14, NIX, together with a blockchain platform for scientific research, ARTiFACTS, will make a presentation based on the shared experience of developing a blockchain platform for academic research, highlighting what challenges we have faced and what conclusions we have both drawn. Come by at 3:40 pm to the track Blockchain for Business to learn more about blockchain application in science, and to listen to President at ARTiFACTS, David Kochalko, and Senior Business Analyst at NIX, Halyna Tsymbal, talking about what we learned while building a Blockchain platform for scientific research.

Join us for the Blockchain Expo North America 2019 Make sure to register for your tickets here #BlockchainExpo