Open Source Science

Microsoft billionaire Bill Gates aims to keep important scientific research open and in the hands of the people who need it most.

While donations from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation have funded research on eradicating polio and HIV/AIDS, a next-generation condom, and other medical, social, and developmental endeavors, the latest donation came straight from Gates himself.

Gates' latest philanthropic vision is to help fund ResearchGate, a research and social network created in 2008 for doctors, biologists, engineers, chemists, physicists, and others. Gates, Tenaya Capital, Dragoneer Investment Group, Benchmark, and Founders Fund are also helping to finance ResearchGate in an effort to keep scientific information accessible to the public. 

Full-scale studies are often held under a publisher’s copyright, meaning that if you want to examine the studies, you'd better cough up a hefty subscription fee.

2.9 Million Researchers, United

ResearchGate's 2.9 million members believe that the search for and examination of knowledge shouldn’t be kept behind a pay wall, but rather available free for the betterment of humanity.

“Our goal is to free knowledge from the ivory tower, to digitalize it, and make it accessible for everyone in order to accelerate scientific progress,” Ijad Madisch, co-founder and CEO of ResearchGate, said in a press release

They want all data—from both successful and failed experiments—to be open and the results made available in real time so that research isn’t kept from peer-review.

It’s an important counterbalance to measures now affecting the research community. A bill currently before Congress would remove the peer-review process at the National Science Foundation, the government arm of scientific research. 

Organizations like ResearchGate that believe in open, transparent, and verified research further the idea that not only science, but society as a whole, will benefit from greater access to scientific findings.

“To ensure everyone has the possibility to lead a healthy and productive life, science has to come up with new solutions to eradicate diseases and spread new knowledge quickly and effectively. We are building the digital infrastructure to make this happen,” Madisch said.

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