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Digital Science Report Pushes Blockchain for Research

A new report from Digital Science explores blockchain technology and its potential to solve problems in scholarly communication and research. In related news, the company also launched a grant of up to $30,000 to help fund proposals designed to apply blockchain technology to a research context.

The report's authors explain various challenges facing the academic research and communication community, such as reproducibility, the inflexibility of journals as vehicles for communication, credit, commercial interests and issues with peer review, such as a shortage of reviewers, gender or other biases in selection of reviewers and manipulation or fraud, among others.

These problems can be solved, at least in part, according to the report, by overhauling the system and replacing it with one built on blockchain technology.

By making larger parts of the entire research process more transparent, for example, a blockchain-based system would open more of that process up to correction and might thus help to address issues around reproducibility that some disciplines have been experiencing recently. Since blockchain ledgers record each interaction, the report notes that a research process based on one would allow for greater flexibility in uploading timestamped materials, including files, suggestions or other notes or data. Similarly, a record of interactions might allow participants, such as reviewers, to get more credit or even some compensation.

"Blockchain technology has the opportunity to positively impact scholarly practices and, for example, could even change the role publishers play in the scholarly ecosystem," said Joris Van Rossum, Digital Science's director of special projects, in a prepared statement. "The potential extends to solving urgent crises in scholarly communication, such as around costs, trust and universal accessibility to scientific information. This report for the first time digs deep into this promise with a look towards the future."

The full report is available at Visit to learn more about the company's blockchain grant.

About the Author

Joshua Bolkan is contributing editor for Campus Technology, THE Journal and STEAM Universe. He can be reached at [email protected].

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