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Disclosure or secrecy? The dynamics of Open Science

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  • Mukherjee, Arijit
  • Stern, Scott

Abstract

Open Science is a dynamic system of knowledge production that depends on the disclosure of knowledge by researchers as an input into knowledge production by future researchers. To analyze the conditions supporting Open Science, we develop an overlapping generations model that focuses on the trade-off between disclosure and secrecy. While secrecy yields private returns that are independent of the actions of future generations, the benefits of disclosure depend in part on the use of disclosed knowledge by the subsequent researchers. We show that Open Science and Secrecy are both potential equilibria, and that the feasibility of Open Science depends on factors such as the costs of accessing knowledge from prior generations and the relative benefits to private exploitation under secrecy versus disclosure. In parameter regions where both Open Science and Secrecy can be supported, Open Science is associated with a higher level of social welfare. The analysis has policy implications for a number of areas, including public support for research training, appropriate design of formal intellectual property, and the role of scientific norms and institutions (such as an effective peer review process) in maintaining Open Science over the long run.

Suggested Citation

  • Mukherjee, Arijit & Stern, Scott, 2009. "Disclosure or secrecy? The dynamics of Open Science," International Journal of Industrial Organization, Elsevier, vol. 27(3), pages 449-462, May.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:indorg:v:27:y:2009:i:3:p:449-462
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