Ars Technica has a very nice long profile of the Rising Star project by Lydia Pyne: “Rising Star found a new species—now it wants to find a new way for paleoanthropology”.
I very much appreciate this article for the number of voices involved in the project that it includes. The emphasis is on the way that the process of science is changing in human evolution. The discoveries are exciting, but to me what is more lasting will be the way that the mode of scientific work has become distributed across broad collaborations by using open access methodologies.
Open access isn’t free, as many champions as well as critics of Rising Star’s approach to data accessibility point out. The question of where data is stored, how it can be accessed, and who can use it depends on the scientists that generate it. But the success of open access also depends on the institutions and grants that fund research and whether journals require data openness and transparency with the publication of peer-reviewed research.
“The success of Rising Star’s policy of open access means that it will be harder for paleoanthropologists in the future to not be more open with their data,” Throckmorton said. “They might not be open to the same level as the naledi project, but they will be more open. There’s been a shift in expectations about publishing fossils.”
This is a thoughtful article and gives a lot to think about.