Blockchain for research: a new paradigm as decentralization and participation for EOSC community

Jul 27 2018

An interesting aspect to be explored in EOSC is the role of the Blockchain communication protocol that identifies a technology based on the logic of the distributed database with the data stored on multiple machines linked together, considered as nodes. This methodology could play an important role in research inside EOSC at beyond the current paradigm of scientific communication understood as it is today. Platforms like Ethereum and hyperledger3 allow developers to build applications on a blockchain infrastructure.

The technology of the Blockchain has the potential to be able to solve some of the most important issues that are currently affecting scientific communication, such as those related to costs, the opening of content in the various stages of referral processes and in relation to the accessibility of scientific outputs in their different configurations related to typologies and versioning. Blockchain research could have a huge impact on the way researchers build their reputation and are recognized. Adopting the Blockchain technology for research would mean for researchers to work in a completely different way from the current one. Its potential covers almost all phases of the research workflow. A world where all transactions are saved and available to all members of the community by solving critical aspects of current scientific communication such as trust, credit, access to data - where required - anonymity, which can still be safeguarded.

A blockchain could for example provide a "notarial" type function allowing a researcher to publish a text or a file with ideas, results or simply data. These time-stamp registrations would allow researchers to request information or ideas, if necessary in an anonymous form, potentially replacing the function of patent offices.

The concept of Blockchain is based on the concept of "trust" understood as a new concept of Trust that accompanies its services within "community" areas (which can be closed or open) and which, according to some, could have a value for certain "political" aspects. For this reason, when we talk about Blockchain we talk about a new generation of Internet that is based not only on the Internet of transactions, but looking beyond it can represent the Internet of Value as well as the transaction processes in the Blockchain in the digital world, four fundamental concepts interact: decentralization, transparency, security, immutability.

The application of blockchain technology concerns sectors such as biomedical, health and government, but also for example the ways of managing copyright in the digital environment precisely because it is configured as a new model for transactions and transfers of ownership. One area that could be involved is that of scientific publishing, transforming scientific communication and research processes in general into "value" transactions by granting members of a community scores based on more or less important actions, on the model of social networks. , increasing its visibility, and contributing to the credit and the scientific positioning of the participants. There is a lack of visibility and recognition, for example, for reviewers who deal with peer-review reviews, a challenging job that goes largely unnoticed. Together, the increase in the number of manuscripts presented to magazines and a subsequent need for multiple reviewers, leads to an increase in difficulty in finding suitable reviewers.