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What is DeSci? Will it improve scientific research

04 Aug 2022 By : Sudeep Saxena
Southeast Asia’s Lar

Over the years, blockchain has managed to provide solutions for many problems across different genres and sectors, including finance, ownership, logistics, and many more. DeSci is another such solution that the Web3 culture and the blockchain technology have proposed in the field of scientific research.

While still in its infancy, DeSci aims to revolutionize science and decentralize the process of research, publishing, and funding. DeSci then aims to solve the issues of funding bottleneck, silos, and access to research.

What is DeSci?

DeSci, or Decentralized Science. In simple words, it aims to decentralize the field of science and research with the help of blockchain-based tools like smart contract and web3.

DeSci is essentially an intersection between two remote trends 

1)Efforts within the scientific community to change the funding, collaboration, and sharing process.

2)Efforts within the crypto and blockchain culture to shift the ownership to the community rather than a centralized entity. 

In this case, the centralized entity is the publishers. DeSci aims to shift the power dynamic away from profit-hungry intermediaries like publisher conglomerates and enhance collaboration within global science communities.

DeSci is a trustless ecosystem in the scientific community that is focused on changing how things work. DeSci on the global scientific space will streamline the funding process, and the knowledge will no longer be hoarded in silos.

What is the need for DeSci?

The academic world's outdated funding model has started to hinder scientific development. A massive chunk of the researcher's time is wasted applying for grants, yet there is a low chance that they will get the proper funding. A researcher's credibility also plays an essential role in securing funding and published work in access to the grants. 

Another issue the current scientific community faces stems mainly from the overreliance on intermediaries like publishers. As a researcher, if you want your work to be considered seriously by academia, you need to publish your work in a reputed scientific journal. The researcher sometimes needs to pay heavily for their work to be published. These journals also create a paywall for the readers, generally with subscription models. This restricts the flow of knowledge, creating more hindrances in the educational process.

DeSci was introduced as a solution to these two problems; bringing the power back to researchers will help streamline the process so that researchers can focus on their research. Other than solving the above-mentioned problems, DeSci has several features that are quite lucrative. 

The role of DAOs in DeSci

DAOs are an alternative to centralized organizations; these Decentralized Autonomous Organizations, as the name implies, are decentralized and community-centric, where all the key decisions are made by voting by DAO members. DAOs are transparent, and hence every decision taken by DAOs is publicly auditable; hence, a trustless system is developed with the help of smart contracts. Let us look at how DAOs can help DeSci.

A permissionless and trustless iteration of science

DAO and its members are enforced by essentially a bunch of code; if any changes are to be made, it needs to be voted in by the members. For taking an entry into one of these organizations, the candidate does not (generally) need to be highly qualified; instead, they just need to own the bunch of said tokens. This low-requirement entry environment helps reward scientists for their achievement and work instead of rewarding reputations. DAOs rewarding model further helps bar unnecessary gatekeeping and bureaucracy. 

Shifting against the trends

Many diseases are very rare yet dangerous, and a few thousands of new cases are detected yearly; pharma companies with sophisticated R&D will probably not focus their capital on these diseases. Since they are neither popular nor in demand, meaning even if there is a chance to cure these diseases permanently, the current funding system will not favor these research R&Ds.

DAOs are a ray of hope for such diseases since they are based on a reward-based model and are not profit-centric 

Removing redundancy from scientific research

The lack of fairness and transparency in the current scientific publishing environment is creating a redundant and monotonous ecosystem that incentivizes scientists to publish significantly novel results. This is because the process of publishing is costly, and creating credibility in the community is the first preference for young and bright scientists. Publishing negative research can save both time and money for other scientists since they will already know how the setup for certain methods and protocols won't work. 

The rewarding nature of DAO and DeSci will appreciate such negative results, which will further save researchers years of time and capital. 

Some of the major use cases of DeSci

IP ownership

Intellectual property or IP is a problem that many researchers face in traditional finance, from being claimed by institutions and universities to not knowing how to monetize the data. Blockchain has been proven to be notoriously well when it comes to ownership and claiming of digital data, and with Web3, the process can be streamlined with high accessibility and usage. 

For example, NFTs can pass revenue for prospective transactions back to the creator of the NFT; a transparent value attribution pipeline can be created that awards researchers, DAO, and test subjects.

Data storage and accessibility

Supported distributed ledger makes data storage safer and more accessible. With a distributed ledger, data is catastrophe proof since a blockchain network is distributed worldwide. To promote less redundancy and censorship resistance, different parties who are verifiable and trusted should share critical information. 

Funding

The standard funding protocol involves individuals writing applications to the concerned parties. Then the funding agency issues a grant committee that will decide which set of researchers to issue grants to. Then there is a tedious set of paperwork which is highly time-consuming and high waiting period which could even span for years. Multiple studies show that grant committees do not always select the best candidates for funding; in fact, different grant committees have come out with widely different outcomes.

DAOs and Web3 have the potential to fix the broken funding model with a wide range of new protocols. By leveraging the power of DeFi and DAO, it is possible for scientists to come together to launch a sustainable funding model for research. DAOs can also help create self-sustainable self-funding models that are both effective for funding and profitable.

Conclusion 

Blockchain has the power to create disruptions in almost every trend and field. It is changing the finance world for good, and DeSci could probably be the next big thing in blockchain and Web3. The DeSci culture, surprisingly, is supported by many reputed and experienced individuals in academia. It brings transparency and accessibility to the system and gives power to the researchers because, ultimately, science should prevail.

A Web3 and DAO-based DeSci model promises a bright future where funding is not very time-consuming, nor is the bureaucracy. Many pioneering researchers are looking at DeSci to help form an academic utopia.

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