Blockchain, research and scholarly communications

How will research and scholarly communications be impacted by blockchain technology?

A new report by Digital Science  Blockchain for Research – Perspectives on a New Paradigm for Scholarly Communication explores the potential impact of blockchain technology on scholarly communications and research.  In addition, Digital Science is offering a grant of up to $30,000 for blockchain technologies aimed at the scholarly sector.

Research is a collaborative endeavour dependant on the effective exchange of ideas and data across geographical and temporal barriers.  The report explores ways in which blockchain technology might be able to impact several aspects of scholarly communication including transparency, open science, reproducibility, peer review.

The current workflow for research might include any, all or more of the following platforms and processes:

Capturing research data on spreadsheets and lab software, writing articles using collaborative writing tools, submitting articles via a publisher submission system, articles converted to a PDF and HTML, access facilitated by librarians, citations captured in citations databases.

Adopting an open, permissioned blockchain for research could mean researchers working in a completely different way. Blockchain would allow for the creation of a shared infrastructure that would decentralise processes and allow open access to information.

Research data could be automatically uploaded, time-stamped and encrypted, speeding up the research workflow and making it less prone to error.  Another advantage of having research data available on the blockchain is that computational power available within the network could be used for processing, statistical analysis and calculations.

The peer review process could improve through the blockchain and data underlying the published results could be made available.  Innovation can be fostered by the anonymous submission of ideas and hypotheses. 

Blockchain could be used to transform publishing models.  New platforms/tools are being developed that allow micropayments to be used per content use and have the potential to transform the commercial landscape in scholarly communications.

The full report can be downloaded here.

Blockchains for information professionals

Meanwhile, a group at San José State University iSchool is exploring how the library sector could use blockchain tech. The team has launched a website to act as a forum for ideas and conversation on the topic.