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The Method's raison d'etre

The Method's raison d'etre

Science matters to us.

At The Method, we believe that science is the best way for humans to create new knowledge and to solve humanity's biggest challenges. As we learned more about issues in research access, inclusion, and rigor, we found a community of scientists who shared our concern. We also learned about innovations, new approaches, and ideas that could improve science. Since 2014, we dedicated our time to conversations about the scientific method. We discussed topics of concern for scientists, librarians, funders, and other stakeholders. Over time, we started to feel like these conversations were stunted and siloed.

Science deserves better conversations.

We realized that we were often speaking in an echo-chamber of well-meaning scientists with similar worldviews to ours. New perspectives were not added and our assumptions were not challenged. If anything, we were solidifying our opinions before even including everyone in the conversation. This is not good for science. We can do more with a better conversation.

The Method hopes to improve our conversations about science to make them more inclusive, more productive, and better quality. We want to build an open process of contribution, review, moderation, and reuse that encourages more diverse engagement. We want to enable continuous, living conversations that can build in specificity and quality over time. We want to support honest and personal contributions that promote understanding with people who have different worldviews. We want to not only paint a more complete picture of the scientific method today, but to enable us to imagine a more complete picture of what science could become.

We want to resist bubbles through open conversations.

The Method is not just about making a podcast. We want to illustrate that openness has value beyond code and data. We need processes that resist the bubbles we have built for ourselves through social media. This is a proof-of-concept that others can use to connect, reflect, and resist echo-chambers through open conversation. Open conversations are needed today to solve complex problems in an increasingly polarized and fragmented world.

"If everyone isn't at the table, then the table is not set." - Elizabeth Yeampierre

There are few processes in our lives that bring us perspectives from those with different worldviews. The naturally occurring conversations we have are not inclusive. We are talking to people who think like us and that value the same things that we do. Not only are these the conversations we are exposed to, they are the conversations we seek out as they confirm our biases. When we are having conversations about complex issues such as access to research, our core beliefs continue to guide who we invite to the table, whose voices we value, and what solutions attract us. Not everyone is at the table for our conversations about science. 

Not that we expect this to be easy.

One challenge will be balancing the uniqueness of the challenges and solutions within scientific disciplines while avoiding the attraction of piecemeal and overly customized solutions. It is not uncommon for disciplines to disregard innovations initiated outside their discipline. At AAAS this year, a panelist dismissed a model of the peer review of protocols currently used in some psychology journals because his discipline was “very different”. This tendency is understandable, but has to be balanced to ensure we are learning from each other.

Another challenge will be to build consensus about solutions in science that are not biased towards those who are already rewarded by the current system. There is an increasing support amongst some scientists to only accept solutions that improve scientific impact and efficiency, and dismiss solutions that improve inclusivity and equity in science. For example, a workshop about the future of scholarly commons culminated into recommendations for different online platforms. At the end, the only scientist in the room from a Global South country mentioned that none of these solutions would work for him because internet was too unreliable. Those that have been successful in the existing system will be more concerned with efficiency and impact than access, sexism, or racism. However, for science to serve and include everyone, we need to build consensus without reinforcing the status quo.

The world's first open source podcast (probably).

The Method is an open source podcast. The fact that it is open source is not intended to be a gimmick or an add-on. The Method was inspired by how open source has enabled quality code through openness. An open source podcast means that all materials, including the releases, raw and edited content, and reviews, are licensed CC-BY or CC0. Calls for contributions are open. The processes we build will be openly documented and evaluated, and reuse of the processes will be encouraged and supported. Openness is at the core of how The Method has been developed, how it is being created, how it will be shared, and how it will allow us to imagine better science.