Okay I’ll voice the seemingly unpopular opinion here. I got a PhD in astrophysics from a less-prestigious university just earlier this year, so I’m pretty qualified to speak on this. BOTTOM LINE UP FRONT - large teams of scientists will work much faster and harder than less-supported individuals, who will end up getting unintentionally screwed. Getting time on telescopes like Hubble or JWST is incredibly competitive. You have to write an extremely clean proposal, detailing exactly how you plan to accomplish a research goal, proving that the observations you requested will provide meaningful data, and that the work you’re doing will advance the field. These proposals take weeks to write and edit. It’s very hard to get time on a big telescope, I think the numbers I was hearing were around 5-10% acceptance rate for Hubble. JWST is probably even lower. In the rare occurrence that your proposal gets selected, that’s only the first part of the effort. Then you have to actually do what you promised you would do and that takes even more time, and this is where this equity really comes into play. At my university there were probably 20-30 grad students getting PhDs in astronomy/planetary science/astrophysics/cosmology, all falling under 4-5 professors. Most grad students were the only person at the entire university working on a specific project, or sometimes you might have had groups of 2-3. Compare that to bigger departments like Harvard or ASU that have dozens of professors and legions of undergrads/grad students/post docs. There are entire teams collaborating on projects that have orders of magnitude more time and resources available to them that an individual student would have at a smaller university. It’s not unrealistic at all to think that even unintentionally one of those larger research groups could easily steal someone else’s research. You spent three weeks writing the strongest proposal to observe the atmosphere of a system of exoplanets, and you’re the first person from your department to get observation time in the last decade? Well guess what, a group of 30 top-notch scientists from MIT found the observations just 2 days after they were made public and they’ll publish 5 papers off it before you submit one. Not out of hatred, just because publishing is what scientists do, and they have no idea what your research plans are. That’s why the 12-month buffer exists. All data goes public eventually, and 12-months really isn’t too long on the timeline of academic research. Anyone who has taken a complete research project from initial proposal to published paper will agree with that. I fully believe that the 12-month buffer is a good thing for enabling equity across research teams of various sizes and funding levels. Maybe it’s a little worse for casual citizens to see beautiful pictures of the cosmos, but you will see them eventually, and they’ll still be just as stunning.


I'm the PI of a JWST cycle 1 GO proposal (12 month proprietary period), and I'm at a small institution with limited resources. I'm also involved and/or in contact with other JW teams, leading/working with ERS and GTO results (data public from moment zero). The GTO and ERS teams are being scooped mercilessly. Needless to say, I would be scooped too without the protection of the 12 month proprietary period.


Yeah, why bother writing a proposal if it's highly likely you're going to be scooped on the final publication?


I spent a considerable amount of time refining the proposal, tinkering with the exposure time calculator, checking with Co-Is, checking the literature, and constantly making sure the project was "big enough" to warrant time on JW, the world's premier IR facility. That time is harder to justify in an environment where I can do no work ahead of time, roll out of bed, and download the data from a different team.


What does scooped mean in this context? Is that the term for someone unintentionally stealing your work?


I wouldn't say "stealing your work". In this context, it means they published the same results with the same data, but earlier than you. I've been scooped before on publishing Kepler planets. I had 40 planet candidates and 3 new confirmed planets, but a paper came out right before I was about to submit discovering all but 14 of the candidates and 2 of the 3 confirmed planets. It sucked. (I was lucky that they missed the 3rd planet in the same system though.) For reference, Kepler posted all their data publicly right away (after the first few months). As an early grad student at the time, I couldn't compete with discovering new, normal planets with the older grad students (who didn't have classes or teaching responsibilities) or post-docs, so I had to refocus on niche areas of Kepler data. Just by nature of how JWST and Kepler are used, most JWST observations that currently have proprietary periods would not be very useful for looking at "niche" areas (and wouldn't be the subject of the proposals they wrote).


So can the solution be: prestige and author rights are shared with people who collected the original data?


Maybe if the research showed exactly what they were hoping to find, but what if they find something else? The people who found it would say thats unfair, it wasn't what they were looking for. Meanwhile the person who took the observations would say, how do you know I wouldn't have figured that out too once I had enough time to look at the data?


I think you’ve nailed the issue: that the spoils come from publishing, not from all the work involved. For an industry that is obsessed with clout-as-currency, it seems to have a short, limited memory for the actual contributors’ respective contributions.


The comparison with GTO & ERS programs is not really relevant or accurate. GTO teams have a year of EAP unless they volunteered to waive that (which some did). They are not “being scooped mercilessly”, they chose to make their data public immediately to get results out faster. ERS programs were selected on different criteria than GO programs, with zero EAP the default. they were meant to showcase the observatory’s capabilities over a range of research areas - there is so much science in the ERS data, even if some other teams are publishing alongside there is no lack of great science to get from these data. I don’t think these comparisons are pertinent to this discussion (congrats on your cycle 1 time though!).


How about... the person(s) whose proposal generated the data have to be listed as LEAD author on any paper using it which is published in the first 3(?) months, regardless whether they helped write it. Named author in the first 12 months. Thoughts?


Thank you for the well thought out and written response. I came here to say something similar, but could not hope to say it with your eloquence.


Fellow PhD in astronomy here. Everything you said is true, and that doesn't even cover all the reasons why a 12-month proprietary period is good.


I'm on to all you PhDs banding together to get a 12 month head start on aliens!!


Not to mention, after the initial 12 month delay, its a regular cadence of access. Its like JWST launching and becoming operational 12 months later.


Proprietary periods make coordinated observations more difficult for time-domain targets. There is an opportunity cost to the archival quality of many targets.


Can you explain? Wouldn't the data be the same?


Observations from other observatories and instruments can provide complementary data -- different wavelengths/bands, spectra, etc. But these are often more useful when taken contemporaneously. If the proprietary user doesn't announce that the object is doing something interesting (or hasn't even looked for themselves until months later), others won't know to take additional data.


This is some insight that I didn't think of. It sounds like a bit of a rock and a hard place. They should go with what accomplishes the best science overall. Whatever that is.


Great post! Those same better funded & equipped teams will still have the ability to work on the data & produce papers after the delay. There's often plenty of discoveries to be found in a particular dataset, once the proposal that won the observation time in the first instance has had the time to publish their data. This is such a powerful set of instruments that there will be many novel discoveries buried in an observation and both the telescope operators & the data analysis teams are learning on the fly how to make the best of it. Hubble has had many instances of that.


Just to add some perspective to this, I attended a talk by someone whose proposal was accepted and whose team has been pouring through the data they received to find what appears to be the most distance galaxies found yet (they haven't published yet though), this search for the most distant galaxies sounds like such a competitive field alone that the team who put in all that work to get the proposal accepted would probably not have been the first ones to find and publish this ground breaking data since there are so many teams chomping at the bit for that data.


Great perspective. It's vitally important that we regular people understand how these fields work when we make collective decisions about resources and rules for information sharing. Making publicly funded research results free to the public is an important policy goal that has become more and more popular as people pay more attention to it, and in my opinion rightly so. It is understandable in that climate to want to rush to saying, "Let everything be free, go go go go go!!" Maybe it is even virtuous. But... even virtues must be tempered, in this case tempered by an understanding of what actually also drives successful research. And how best to meet other, competing public research goals such as supporting a wide variety of actors in a field instead of allowing a few institutions to dominate. This is a great example of why we as citizens need to educate ourselves on these topics and understand how to make public choices that best balance the tradeoffs. Let me add my thanks to the chorus, u/woodswims, and also my encouragement to you to write for a broader audience if you aren't already doing so. You have a gift for this.


pbs spacetime had a recent video that outlines a rough tldr of exactly what you are talking about: [https://youtu.be/kw-Rs6I2H5s?t=357](https://youtu.be/kw-Rs6I2H5s?t=357)


More or less the only person in this thread that has a clue what they're talking about.


Well I would as astronomy student have some competence also. Problem is /u/woodswims already said everything that needs to be said. Soooo ehhh up vote and I concur message? Maybe only thing other might be: Astronomers have decades relied on the archival data becoming available and enabling their studies from observations not made by them. As such we have *zero* interest and tolerance for data hoarding and proprietary data others can't use. As such, please listen to us when we say: this is bad idea, the 12 month *embargo* is there for a reason. Finally second addition I would say is, it is there also to improve quality of the papers and research. Since if there is no 12 month embargo for benefit of the original Primary Investigator, well that potentially leads to hasty bad papers. They will be constantly thinking "what someone swipes my data and snipes the paper submission from underneath me. Slap the paper together as soon as possible, submit it, so one has the best chance to get the paper out before it gets swiped from underneath them". Thus leading to hasty papers, doing the bare minimum, no time for extra checks or additional looks to improve the quality of the paper. that 12 months gives that freedom of time of "I can take the extra week to make this paper better, I have still 6 months of the embargo period left." Evey telescope all around the world outside of the survey telescopes (which don't take observation submissions, but always do the same observations set up on their survey program) does the 12 months embargo. It is "industry standard" and for a good reason. Also if there is risk of observations getting swiped, well what is the incentive to go through the process of submitting observation proposal or atleast good one. Just sit waiting on the same group of sharks as everyone else waiting for the data releases as soon as the observations happen. Again lower quality science. Since someone might have new original research and observational idea beneficial for the field, but well whats the point "I'm not in one of the big labs, I don't have the resources to pull of first publishing, so no point spending time making proposal". Ohh ooopsie, it seems i had things to say on my soap box. welll.


>It’s not unrealistic at all to think that even unintentionally one of those larger research groups could easily steal someone else’s research Would the reverse also be a possibility? Say MIT invests all the resources and time to write the proposal, get the telescope time, find the data. Could a smaller university grab that data and publish their own papers with it as well?


It’s possible, but much less likely. The main reason for research getting scooped is one group working much faster than another, which usually comes down to computational resources available and number of people working on it. Bigger groups with more money will have both. Although it is not impossible for a particularly brilliant and lucky individual to scoop a group, I would assume it happens 100x less often.


Also differences in teaching load and functional work. MIT or CfA folks do not have the same loads as people at small liberal arts colleges; that's one of the main draws of those top institutions for researchers. It's much easier to win a footrace without trying to juggle 15 other things at the same time.


Thats great info. Thanks for offering your perspective. Im sorry this is such a blow to the academic community.


Well they certainly would be able to swoop in and produce a lesser quality paper of the findings. Maybe they just had a quick look and wrote a paper based on their first guesses of what they are looking at. Maybe they are correct and get all the credit. Maybe they are dead wrong and cause the media to write a ton of misleading headlines for years to come. Either way I see no alternative where the scientific community benefits from the release.


Thank you for spelling this out for people. I feel most of this conversation comes from sensational headlines that don't show the whole picture. If the data goes public immediately it just openes the door for research getting stolen from the people who are doing the hard work.


Mind that opens the door that everyone is "an astrophysicist", you know, like Kelly McGillis. Jokes aside, I recall only having 10 colleagues in my MS physics department, maybe 5 PhDs in a top 10 school back in 1997, so 20-30 grads in a small uni, wow, I'm impressed that the field has recovered!


The idea to me that research can be 'stolen' from another group simply because a larger group was able to work through data faster than a smaller group is laughable. But then again that sort of 'it's not fair!' whine is very on-brand for Academia. The real issue here isn't making the data available. It's the fact that this concept of competition between publicly funded research using publicly funded data collected by a publicly funded telescope even exists in the first place. Perhaps more could be done to foster collaboration rather than competition.


Thanks for sharing your perspective, this makes a lot of sense and I completely agree with you. Clarifying unintended consequences as clearly as you did is a rare skill, keep doing you because the marks you make will be bold. Good luck with your future plans


This doesn’t really have anything to do with the topic but my father helped create and plate some of the parts on the Hubble. It always amazes me when I see what it’s accomplished




Thank you for this! At first I was like thats fucking dumb just make it public, but this makes so much sense! Thank you for the easy to digest explanation on why this is done!


Wow, you made that make sense to someone who has no idea, thanks!


> All data goes public eventually, and 12-months really isn’t too long on the timeline of academic research. Indeed. It's not like the stars are going to shuffle around in that timeframe!




I would say yes, but the argument against that would be that people are more willing to invest effort into coming up with good proposals if they will be given access to the data first. In that way, it can help maximize the amount of thought and care put into every minute of observation time that the JWST gets.


Adding to this, it isn't like those bigger think tanks aren't doing anything while the data isn't available, they're just working on other projects that they DO have data for. So you get the small university that gets to produce the paper they based their proposal on, and the big university spends their time on other data. If the information is available instantly and gets used by the big university, the little one loses out on their data and loses funding, meaning that all you have left after a while are the big ones. Which means less people in science, and less discoveries made.


You also need a healthy astronomical community. With no proprietary period, young researchers will never be able to publish because they'll be scooped by older, more experienced researchers, which means the next generation of astronomers fizzles and dies. Also, nobody will want to spend months to write a proposal (with a 5% acceptance rate) if it's highly likely they'll be scooped. If nobody writes high quality proposals, you're not going to be doing the best science.


But the end result is not the data, it's the scientific analysis of the data. That is something we can only do when we have the data, and in good science you do it carefully. That takes time. Imagine there's something interesting happening, but there's a small chance further analysis will show it to be spurious. That further analysis, however, will mean that Professor I Wrote A Big Paper And Now Have Fifty Grad Students Competing For Approval in Oxvard will scoop you. So now you have the choice: publish, and risk polluting the academic record, but boost your career; or wait, get scooped, and have to go find another job. So, in the end, not only has this choice caused completely unnecessary stress to individual people, it also incentivizes bad science.


To add to other responses: We have exclusivity on medicinal advances but it’s often for many, many years, theoretically to allow the companies who put in the time to research to recoup those costs. The practical downside of course is very expensive medicine for years and sometimes decades before generics can bring the price down to levels normal people can afford. So I get your concern. But in this case, nothing as significant as people’s health is on the line, and I think 12 months is fair, especially for a smaller team with fewer resources. It does appear to provide a positive balance between equity and data access.




Ignoring in the first place that hurting astronomers in the long run will obviously result in less people willing to train to be astronomers, this hurts astronomy as a whole. Running an experiment is extremely difficult and time consuming. If you don't have any incentive to actually do this, and you can just produce an analysis without doing any work into actually running the experiment, then the only people that will ever manage to produce analyses are people that don't run it. Then no one is willing to run it unless they have no other options, so you get the worst of the worst. Then the experiment is obviously run worse. Then the people that use the data from the experiment don't know how the experiment works, so they don't know what can reasonably be improved. And the people that know how the experiment works don't use the data so they don't know what needs to be improved. So the experiment never gets better. So you just end up in a race to the bottom with no one being willing to run it, the people running it not being competent and no one able to improve it.


TL;DR: Why should I become an astronomer if I can't make a living off it? And obviously, if the old boys' club is the extent of astronomy, it's not good for astronomy.


1. No young researcher will ever be able to write a paper from JWST because older, more experienced researchers will be able to scoop them. That's how you kill a field; no new people coming through the pipeline. 2. Who would want to write any proposals, which take months to write, if they're very likely going to be scooped?


Would you bother going hunting if all your kills were going to be poached by a huge tribe? Probably not. You're not going to consistently eat by hunting, so you'll have to figure out something else to put food on the table. Now the the only people who eat are those who were poaching the kills and they aren't exactly letting many new members into their tribe. In fact, they think it's great that they have all of the lands to themselves.


Astronomy is an intangible thing, the astronomers (the real, tangible people doing the work) are what bring us discoveries. If we don’t enable equity across astronomers then we aren’t enabling equal access to astronomy itself. The same reason why any scientific field is hurt if you only allow a certain group of people to practice it.


I'm not clear on how this enables equity. Won't the teams with more resources still get recognized first? This just means people outside of professional astronomers don't even get to try. This sounds like a plan to prevent a chance of scooping by removing access, when access is the more important issue (unless you're one of the people who benefit from locking everyone else out of it).


With the 12 month embargo, the team the came up with the idea of what to look at gets to publish their paper on their idea, and get credit for that idea. Then the big team, which didn’t write the proposal or come up with the idea, will get the data and get to look at it and might find some more important things. But it means that the people who put in the work to get the imagery get first crack at it. As for people outside of professional astronomers, they, and the professional astronomers outside of the group that wrote the proposal for the imagery all get equal access after 12 months. The only thing the 12 month limit does is stop bigger groups from scooping the smaller groups that put the work in to get the imagery.


Everyone gets access after 12 months already. The embargo just allows the team that came up with the experiment enough time to look at their data. Without the embargo, a better staffed and funded institution can actually publish the results faster than the team that designed the experiment can parse all the data they've been given, because the larger institution has more computational power and more people to throw at analyzing the results. All it takes is one or two scoops and a researcher at a smaller institution might lose their job, as they can't justify their funding and salary if their university isn't getting anything in return.


Because what you get is all the work coming out of a few universities. The result is concentration of resources. Science needs lots of diversity in people, ideas, and resources to actually be overall useful. It wouldn't be good for the long term careers of, lets say a PhD student who somehow gets time on JW, just to have their work stolen and the credit taken - for them that means they have to switch projects, but for many, not getting a phd at all will be the result. Sometimes a phd student only needs one good set of data and will work on that the entire time theyre working towards their degree.


It will hurt the astronomy academic establishment, not necessarily astronomy. I am of the opinion that academia is an incredibly toxic and unhealthy working environment and really the opposite is true of bulk research: that we need to move away from individual researcher focus and more to institutional/organizational focus to pool resources and talent together which can be accomplished with more open data.


"Why should I put loads of work in coming up with a good target to observe (and the right parameters to observe it), when I can just piggyback off other people doing it for me?" Competition for observation time is a way of ensuring only the most valuable targets are selected for observation with the limited time available to that telescope. Remove that incentive to compete, and worse choices will be made.


>is incredibly competitive > >larger research groups could easily steal someone else’s research. This is the actual problem. One could assume it would be in humanitys best interest to let our brightest minds work unified towards a common goal, instead they are divided and research can be "stolen". How can something be stolen that you never owned in the first place?


Honest question: why should we care about whether anybody has enough time to publish results based upon data from a brand new incredibly expensive publicly funded telescope? Holding up data because a paper was the only reason somebody submitted a proposal? I don't get it.


For those who have read the article, it's clear the issue isn't as black and white as it seems. If you're not giving proprietary time for astronomers to work with their data (e.g., anyone can access their data at any point), an environment is created where everyone can access and publish everyone else's data, leading to a situation where the focus is on who can publish first, not on doing good science. This is because we as humans are motivated by recognition for work we've done. If you're guaranteed time with your own data, you no longer have to worry about this, and the focus becomes doing good work and not cut corners. Regardless of whether this change is good for astronomy as a whole, getting rid of this proprietary period disproportionately affects newcomer astronomers, as more than likely their work can get scooped by parties with more resources or more overall time to spend on research. Whether you care about who publishes or not is subjective, and currently NASA seems to care (and supports measures to enable newcomers). EDIT: It's been a while since I made my post, and I've read a lot of discourse by people who work in the field as well as quite a few armchair experts. Dislcaimer: I'm no expert either. I've decided to agree with the people who are most knowledgeable about the subject: astronomers, astrophysicists, and the people who would be most affected by this. Demanding data be made public immediately on the basis that they are funded by tax dollars ignores any time and effort spent on these topics and does little to support new generations of astronomers. An analogy that I can give is that of public parks. If a city allocates tax dollars towards a park, would it make sense for them to drop uprooted trees, pipes, piles of mulch, etc. onto undeveloped land and open it to the public? It would make much more sense to give time to the company that the city contracted to actually build the park. Demanding they open immediately on the basis of the park being tax dollars completely ignores everything else that goes into it. Extending this analogy, if smaller companies have to compete with larger companies in this undeveloped space, these smaller companies would get pushed out, and only the larger companies remain. Instead, it's fair to give whoever the city chooses time to do what they have to do before anyone else interferes.


>This is because we as humans are motivated by recognition for work we've done More than just motivated, the recognition (in the form of citations in others' work) is tied to hiring, promotion, future grant proposals, and people's willingness to collaborate. A lot of people seem to think it's just vanity which is frustrating.


That's right. I should've probably worded my original comment to say this.


Astronomer here! I will agree with this headline- this is the equivalent of letting the entire world see your lab notebook as you put entries into it if you were a chemist. Let me detail some things here so others are aware. - JWST telescope time is allocated via a proposal system, where the telescope time is *extremely* competitive (~5x more time requested than there are hours to give). Proposals take weeks to write and thus have to be very good, and are evaluated by a bunch of other astronomers. Anyone in the world can apply for this time. - Traditionally once you get telescope time you get 6-12 months proprietary time to analyze it. **All data is then public after this period.** NASA (and frankly any telescope I know of) does this, especially public ones. So it's not like this data is never public, the intention behind the proprietary period is to give the scientist who proposed time to analyze their data. * That said, for this first cycle of JWST time, because it was so competitive several teams waived their right to a proprietary period, banking instead on speed to get results out before being "scooped" by the public. You know what's been happening as a result? A *massive* increase in shitting over the mental health of junior people in particular in some collaborations, with insane hours the norm. I know of students who have decided to leave the field because of their experiences on these first JWST papers, one who has even resorted to self harm. So think of all the bad stuff you've heard about with grad school/ academia and what a pressure cooker it can be, take this JWST stuff, and it's like adding napalm to the fire. When every new paper is a career maker in a prestigious journal, and people who are just a few days slower get no prize at all, what do you think is going to happen? Personally, I don't see why this should happen in my field and I do not think this is a thing astronomy wants. - The above point btw is similar to what has happened in the past with other telescopes where data became immediately public- gamma-ray burst (GRB) physics was notorious for this infighting and backstabbing a decade or two back. We also know from this that it doesn't mean the science is *right* it just means it's *first.* Should science stop giving a shit about who's first if the second guy does a better analysis a few months later? Of course... but on a practical level, that's not the world we have, so you can't just wish it into existence and be all surprised Pikachu face when this happens. It's also bad for young people in the field in particular- we know from Kepler (where all the data was immediately public) that a lot of the discoveries were written up by faculty and postdocs, even if a student discovered it. Why? Because students are learning, and take a little more time to write a paper. You know what you don't have time to allow if you're about to be scooped? Allow a student to learn. Better to give them some credit as Nth author on the paper than no credit because someone scooped them. There are more issues I have with this- for example, why would I ever bother the onerous process of proposing again if someone who doesn't propose gets my data at the same time? But honestly, what it comes down to me is I have seen people hurt who are junior in the field, and are ousted for arbitrary reasons that have nothing to do with their ability to do science. I am also in a field rife with mental health issues already, and don't see any discussion on how this would destroy vulnerable people. Which I know a lot of Reddit will disagree with me on this... but I hope if y'all have been reading my comments here for such a long time, some of you will respect my opinion here as well as a practicing astronomer who's seen a lot of shit.


Thank you for being a voice of reason. It's sad to see so much ignorance in this thread coming from people who know absolutely nothing of how astronomy research is done.


People on this thread have no idea how astronomy research is done. A proprietary period on the data is necessary to ensure that good science is being done and that no result is rushed.


It's very interesting reading the comments here, it is immediately apparent which commenters have conducted research before, and which are just science enthusiasts. For those having trouble seeing what the issue is here, try putting it in the context of another field. I did ecological research for my degree, so I devised a hypothesis, and spent months in the field collecting data. After that I spent a few months learning the proper statistics to analyze the findings and then published the results. Now nothing that I researched physically belonged to me. It was public land, and my equipment was owned by the state. According to some commenters here, that means the raw data should have been made public immediately. If so, another scientist could have easily swooped in published the results first. True the world might have gotten the "knowledge" slightly sooner, but it also would have likely killed my potential career.


The actual error, which is not *your* error but rather a systemic issue, is that you should have received credit for the solid research work you put in *before* the final results were published. You should get that credit even if the field work was never completed, or was done by someone else. Scientifically speaking it would be better if the hypothesis and experiment setup were published prior to any data being collected, not only so credit can be allocated fairly but more importantly to eliminate the bias which comes from only publishing experiments with certain expected or otherwise "interesting" results.


Already seeing some pretty bold dismissals of this concern, I'm curious who of any of those work in science or have been in academia. Coming from an environmental science background, if I had to immediately release field data that I spent days, weeks of time collecting outdoors and a couple months of planning for someone to swoop in and just take and publish it and screw me that'd be messed up. Many fields are focused on novelty - once someone beats you to the article, you're out of luck. My concern with this would be hasty research so a team that plans an observation can rush to publish. The data becomes public - after a waiting period that lets the planners of the observations take time to responsibly write their results.


I also wonder if everyone complaining has read the article? I’m not in academia and have only a layman’s interest in space exploration. I went from rolling my eyes to being persuaded by reading the article. The explanation makes a lot of sense to me.


Yeah the title is very lazy to post in a big sub like this. Glad the mods removed it because I think folks thought that the data wasn't public already, just with the delay. In a lot of fields including mine open data and code is an evolving issue which has some generational divides.


Yeah, I do wonder if the loss of temporarily exclusive access to data by researchers who designed an observation would lead to more rushed/sloppy science out of fear of being scooped. We could end up seeing a lot more retracted papers in astronomy if this becomes the norm. It’s not a question of whether the data should be made publicly available. They obviously should. But I can see some shortcomings of releasing it immediately.


The only benefit to the public is seeing a headline for an article be pushed for a few days to a week. No one wins expect the “Now now now now now!” People


Yeah I was gonna say, you can clearly tell most of the people in this thread are not in academia. The reason for the waiting period is to improve quality of work and to not have to fear getting scooped. Some people here are like "reputation is getting in the way of human knowledge" or something, like, I care about human knowledge but astro isn't exactly priority number 1 for saving the planet, and I need to feed myself


Astronomer here. There's been a lot of uproar about this among astronomers, and I have yet to hear from **a single person working in the field** that thinks ending the EAP is a good idea. Literally not a soul.


Not a scientist but I’m married to one. I would say the issue is not with the data but the incentive system that only rewards novelty in science. It’s absurd that research has to be motivated by novel discoveries as opposed to the immense value that all scientific work holds, novel or not. Making publicly funded data freely available to the public seems like a no brainer and might even help to break the monetization of scientific research being above good science.


The novelty motivation frustrates me too. Some fields have a serious reproducibility crisis as high quality journals aren't interested in verification studies. But to be clear this data is made public, just with a delay.


Immediate thought: hmm yeah seems reasonable, free the info! Post reading from people in the field: hmm yes it does make sense that quality will decrease if this is normal, hold the info for a reasonable time!


As a scientist, what a load of bs. This won’t hurt astronomY - it will hurt astronomERS that expect exclusivity of data. And by hurt, I mean inconvenience slightly on rare occasions.


The data goes public after 1 year anyway. This 1 year period gives the people who did the hard work to get the observations time to publish their findings. The data going public immediately forces them to rush or leave the door open to others stealing their work. Getting a spot for JWST is a HUGE task that's takes ALOT of work. They deserve 1 year exclusive rights.


As an experimental scientist (which I highly doubt you are as I have never met any that support immediate open access of data), what a load of BS. This will hurt astronomy. Ignoring in the first place that hurting astronomers in the long run will obviously result in less people willing to train to be astronomers, this hurts astronomy as a whole. Running an experiment is extremely difficult and time consuming. If you don't have any incentive to actually do this, and you can just produce an analysis without doing any work into actually running the experiment, then the only people that will ever manage to produce analyses are people that don't run it. Then no one is willing to run it unless they have no other options, so you get the worst of the worst. Then the experiment is obviously run worse. Then the people that use the data from the experiment don't know how the experiment works, so they don't know what can reasonably be improved. And the people that know how the experiment works don't use the data so they don't know what needs to be improved. So the experiment never gets better. So you just end up in a race to the bottom with no one being willing to run it, the people running it not being competent and no one able to improve it.


Astronomer here- yes. All of this. It's like allowing access to a chemist's lab notebook to allow data to be immediately public. There are also examples of missions where data was immediately public, like Kepler, where often faculty and postdocs would write the papers because students (who are still learning) would not be able to write the paper fast enough before the discovery got "scooped," *even if the student made the discovery.* Just not enough time to train them.


Astronomer here cosigning this. It's a huge disincentive to design the research program in the first place, and it's an especially large disincentive to write proposals for high risk/high reward programs. It will drive science towards safe, bread and butter science and away from observations that could give potential breakthroughs.


It’s much more serious than that. Data are typically embargoed for 6 months before being released to the public. It gives the scientists who dedicate their entire lives to a particular mission time to analyze first and report findings before others get a chance. The embargo is a small thank you to the people who made the mission happen. Imagine a journalist having to make all their source info available as they get it, before they have a chance to put their story together. They should have a chance to tell their story before getting scooped. That 6 month embargo goes by very fast and scientists already have to work at light speed to keep the mission going while also trying to publish before the embargo ends. Making the data public immediately absolutely hurts the scientists, without whom these missions wouldn’t even exist.


I agree with this. A lot of data will just be used by news sites to get advertising clicks with tons of pseudo-science. Titles like “omg we found a worm whole that scientists dont understand”


Astronomer here- it frankly won't come to that, because it's not like anyone can just waltz into JWST data and analyze it (except for maybe some imaging). Most data are in the form of things like spectra, and they take literally years of training to learn how to understand what it shows (I mean hey, they award doctorates for this!). Instead what happens in practice is it's other astronomers coming in trying to scoop you, and junior scientists end up with mental health crises because of the 100 hour weeks they're under pressure to be under so they don't get "scooped."


Or privately funded scientists can scoop the publicly funded scientists who helped put the mission together.


Privately funded really doesn't exist in astronomy! Everyone is on public grant money or at a university. I suppose you could argue the university ones are "private"... but in my experience are just as busy if not more so. For example, I have a friend who teaches at a liberal arts college so 2 courses a semester, meaning she has no time for research outside the summer. As such, there is 0% chance she'd publish her data before someone else does, unless it's *very* luckily timed.


But on the whole freer access to information will be a massive net benefit for astronomers and the public.


> Without a proprietary period during which the astronomers who proposed given observations have exclusive access to the data, those researchers will have to work very quickly in order to avoid being scooped. Seems like he is not mad about data dumps from routine observation, but from astronomer led proposed observation. I have no dog in the fight, but the article is a little more insightful than just astronomers being mad that everyone gets access to the large amounts of data that JWT will provide.


This is correct... This isn't an issue about releasing 'general' data to the public. The researcher is concerned with having developed their OWN hypothesis, gathered the resources to test that, and then not getting the reward for that novel work. This would be akin to a drug company sinking funds into research and development of a promising dug/treatment and then having to disclose the formula publicly right as it goes to clinical trials. Like you, I don't have a dog in this fight and general want data to be 'free'. But, it doesn't seem unreasonable to let someone have some time to analyze data THEY commissioned/gathered before releasing it to the wider world.


As u/Tekwardo is suggesting your analogy is not equivalent. The JWST is a massive public works project, paid for by tax dollars. The information is not the scientists, it's public. His novelty lies in how he treats the data. Maybe a better equivalent would be getting the CDC to give you reams of data on disease states, but asking them not publish them until you've made your conclusions, all while you use a NSF grant to do the research. The researcher wants public support for the risk, without public reward.


>Maybe a better equivalent would be getting the CDC to give you reams of data on disease states, but asking them not publish them until you've made your conclusions, all while you use a NSF grant to do the research. Yeah, this has problems too... In THAT case, the data already exists. In the JWST case, the telescope is only looking at \[thing\] because a researcher proposed to a governing board that they should allow the telescope to be used for \[thingspotting\] because \[reasons\]. The data doesn't exist... It's being generated \_because\_ a researcher has shown that gathering has merit. And that is an investment of time/effort that is non-zero. It's skin in the game. The point is there really isn't ANY good analogy since this is a relatively unique case. The closest I've been able to think of since I've been reflecting on it is a car company using public roads to test their vehicles. Again, I'm not saying that immediate public disclosure is the wrong path. I am sympathetic, though, to the case the researcher in the article is raising. No matter who funded the telescope, the issue is a real one.


I'm not sure how it's different from say a NHS funded study at a public hospital. It's using public funds to do research with public equipment. While the results and the data eventually become publicly available, they aren't made so in real time. I don't see why this shouldn't work the same way. Make everything public, but give the researchers time to do their work and write their paper. If we want people to do this work there needs to be rewards for doing so.


>This would be akin to a drug company sinking funds into research and development of a promising dug/treatment and then having to disclose the formula publicly right as it goes to clinical trials. This is actually exactly how patents work. The whole point of a patent is you have to publicly disclose it but then you are the only one who can make it for a period of time.


I don’t think that’s a good analogy. Drug companies spend R&D and it isn’t as if someone that doesn’t have access to a lab or the compounds needed can just show up with data and ‘scoop’ them, plus drug formulas are generally protected under patent and copyright laws. The universe isn’t under patent or copyright laws, and that telescope was paid for by tax payor monies and none has a copyright or patent on the universe. I get *why* there are people upset, but this is data that *should* be open source and accessible.


I agree the analogy breaks down because of copyright, but it was the clearest parallel I could think of (maybe because I work in basic sciences research). And, of course, I think the pharma market and pricing is broken anyway. So, yeah. But I still think it has some merit as a parallel. If a Chinese company had advanced access to the formula for a promising drug being tested by a major drug company, you can bet that they could sink the (relatively minor) cost into manufacturing knock-off to saturate the market. While laws in the US and other western countries protect the company, it still has an impact. But, that's OT. To the point here, while the telescope is paid for by taxpayer dollars, there's still a SUBSTANTIAL investment of time and effort by the researcher to get the TIME on the instrument to gather that specific data about their hypothesis. While the data should CLEARLY be open-sourced (and quickly), I can understand that giving the primary researcher behind its generation SOME reasonable window for proprietary analysis. \*shrug\*


Nobody is arguing the data should be exclusive. It’s a delay of fully public release of a few months so that the people who put in the work, energy, and passion that resulted in the very scarce resource of that allocated telescope time, then have time to publish their results. To immediately universally release the data just lets other countries and organizations swoop in to grab the it which is only going to push good minds out of the field. A few months for them to conclude their research isn’t much and would set up a very similar release schedule after the delay for other people and organizations to utilize the data as they want to.


No but it takes a long time to come up with a detailed and strong proposal in order to get time on one of these telescopes. That is a lot of work to sink in to then just have someone else who has a larger team use that data and publish before you. The exclusivity period is to give time to the people who put the work in to get the project off the ground. Society can handle waiting a year for the data to be public. Science doesn't move that quickly anyways and a year is nothing.


It will remove the incentive for researchers to come up with novel proposals and research goals. What’s the point if you sink weeks into a proposal only to be beaten to the publication because you had some bullshit teaching obligation that prevented you from focusing on the publication as soon as the data was made available


^a sign that academia needs to change more than anything.^ journals/publishing are super messed up systems.


I agree the papers shouldn’t be behind a paywall if NASA funded the research. But the astronomers should still get a chance to actually DO the research first.


Maybe any research completed from the results should reference the team that initially requested the data.


That is a possible solution, the problem then becomes enforcement. The main article talks about this as a possible way forward, too.


Society needs to change for that to happen. Until people no longer need to worry about earning enough money to at least live without worry academia, just like any other industry, will be mainly motivated by $$$.


I don't think academics are mainly motivated by $$$, but a basic amount of $$$ is necessary to live a reasonably comfortable life and to pursue the research which is an academic's main interest. Nobody enters academia for the $$$.


Astronomy is actually one of the few fields way ahead of the curve on publishing, every single astronomy article is free at https://arxiv.org/archive/astro-ph. Journals with paywalls STILL have the articles posted for free here. And it goes back *decades*. The research is publicly available outside of paywalls and has been for 30 years. I don't know anyone below the age of 70 that even looks at the journals themselves anymore, we all just read astro-ph and check if a paper has been refereed or not yet. What the parent commenter is alluding to instead is the incentives for early career researchers who *need* publications to continue to have a job. If they get scooped on an idea they spent time developing (instead of spending it writing papers scooping others) then they could very possibly not be able to find a permanent job and end up needing to leave the field. Most people end up needing to leave the field anyway. There aren't that many permanent positions. There are lots of problems with the way academia runs, but ending the exclusive access period will make them **worse** not better.


As a scientist, I completely disagree with you. The [current top comment](https://www.reddit.com/r/space/comments/zd7rej/comment/iz0bobz/?utm_source=share&utm_medium=web2x&context=3) on this post does a good job of describing the problem. I don't see why one year of exclusivity is a problem and it certainly helps even the playing field for scientists in smaller labs. It will also lead to scientists rushing to publish results rather than taking their time to do the work correctly. In my opinion, as someone who frequently reviews articles, rushed results are already a huge problem and this only exacerbates the issue.


As a PhD in astronomy, this would hurt astronomy and astronomers.


What’s your take on u/woodswims argument then?


Also as a scientist, if every time I ran an experiment all my raw data for published before I even had time to fully analyze it, competitors with slightly more resources would be jumping the gun to misinterpret the results. This proposal is insane. A privacy period is necessary to assure that scientists that propose experiments get the time to complete them. It's like starting a sentence and allowing the rest of the world to finish it before you can. It's your thought, you should get to see it through before others do.


And why, might I ask, is hurting astronomers a good thing? Does hurting physicists help advance physics research? Or should we fuck over doctors in order to advance medical research?


Acronyms, initialisms, abbreviations, contractions, and other phrases which expand to something larger, that I've seen in this thread: |Fewer Letters|More Letters| |-------|---------|---| |[CC](/r/Space/comments/zd7rej/stub/iz32dqh "Last usage")|Commercial Crew program| | |Capsule Communicator (ground support)| |[CSA](/r/Space/comments/zd7rej/stub/iz0cm0e "Last usage")|Canadian Space Agency| |[DoD](/r/Space/comments/zd7rej/stub/j00l8ge "Last usage")|US Department of Defense| |[ESA](/r/Space/comments/zd7rej/stub/iz0hds7 "Last usage")|European Space Agency| |[GRB](/r/Space/comments/zd7rej/stub/iz0jh9q "Last usage")|Gamma-Ray Burst| |[GTO](/r/Space/comments/zd7rej/stub/iz38602 "Last usage")|[Geosynchronous Transfer Orbit](http://www.planetary.org/blogs/jason-davis/20140116-how-to-get-a-satellite-to-gto.html)| |[HST](/r/Space/comments/zd7rej/stub/iz16ieu "Last usage")|Hubble Space Telescope| |[ITS](/r/Space/comments/zd7rej/stub/iz0gvcp "Last usage")|Interplanetary Transport System (2016 oversized edition) (see MCT)| | |[Integrated Truss Structure](https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Integrated_Truss_Structure)| |[JPL](/r/Space/comments/zd7rej/stub/iz29frm "Last usage")|Jet Propulsion Lab, California| |[JWST](/r/Space/comments/zd7rej/stub/j55mjaa "Last usage")|James Webb infra-red Space Telescope| |MCT|Mars Colonial Transporter (see ITS)| |[NAS](/r/Space/comments/zd7rej/stub/iz1dwme "Last usage")|National Airspace System| | |[Naval Air Station](https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Naval_air_station)| |[NDA](/r/Space/comments/zd7rej/stub/iz213s4 "Last usage")|Non-Disclosure Agreement| |NRHO|Near-Rectilinear Halo Orbit| |[NRO](/r/Space/comments/zd7rej/stub/j00l8ge "Last usage")|(US) National Reconnaissance Office| | |Near-Rectilinear Orbit, see NRHO| |[NSF](/r/Space/comments/zd7rej/stub/iz3htld "Last usage")|[NasaSpaceFlight forum](http://forum.nasaspaceflight.com)| | |National Science Foundation| |[SAR](/r/Space/comments/zd7rej/stub/iz1rhnb "Last usage")|Synthetic Aperture Radar (increasing resolution with parallax)| |[SEE](/r/Space/comments/zd7rej/stub/iz0f1g2 "Last usage")|Single-Event Effect of radiation impact| |[SLS](/r/Space/comments/zd7rej/stub/iz3lwaj "Last usage")|Space Launch System heavy-lift| |[TS](/r/Space/comments/zd7rej/stub/j00l8ge "Last usage")|Thrust Simulator| |Jargon|Definition| |-------|---------|---| |[Starlink](/r/Space/comments/zd7rej/stub/iz5zvrf "Last usage")|SpaceX's world-wide satellite broadband constellation| ---------------- ^([Thread #8392 for this sub, first seen 5th Dec 2022, 15:46]) ^[[FAQ]](http://decronym.xyz/) [^([Full list])](http://decronym.xyz/acronyms/Space) [^[Contact]](https://reddit.com/message/compose?to=OrangeredStilton&subject=Hey,+your+acronym+bot+sucks) [^([Source code])](https://gistdotgithubdotcom/Two9A/1d976f9b7441694162c8)


In no other research field do we ask scientists to immediately make all of their data public. The whole premise of this is absurd.


12 months to publicly get the data really isn’t that bad tbh. Considering the vastness of space and the challenge of finding interesting things to observe, I’m fine with giving some time to the person who set up the observation to get time with the data before it becomes available openly. Should it be reduced to 6 months? Maybe, but a few months to a year seems fair, I bet it takes way longer than that to set up an observation on JWST. Seems like a misleading click bait title


I wouldn’t say it’s click bait. The article is an opinion piece that completely revolves around the premise of the title.


Pretty clear that most of the people commenting in this thread haven’t read the article. “ITS MY TAX DOLLARS SO I WANT THE DATA NOW!” It’s great that your tax dollars helped us get this JWST data. But do you know what else helped us get this JWST data? The telescope time proposals from scientists who have spent years researching their subjects, scientists who need to be able to justify their jobs by publishing well-researched papers on their findings. If there isn’t a proprietary period, it gets much more difficult for those scientists to write and publish those papers before others beat them to it, rushing through papers to profit off work they didn’t do. You want the return on investment from your tax dollars, and I understand that. I want that too. And you’ll get it! It’s all still being released publicly! But someone needs to know how to “operate” the telescope we paid for, and at a high level, those someones are the scientists who propose these observations. Let’s keep those scientists in a situation where proposing observations of high interest is advantageous to their careers, so that we can all benefit from their findings. Because in most cases, there’s nobody who will be able to interpret the observation data better than those who proposed the observation in the first place. (Plus, just imagine all the sensationalist clickbait that would come out of tabloids and clickbait YouTubers writing about shaky conclusions drawn from misinterpreting raw JWST data by random people. If a random dude writes online about finding aliens in JWST data, you know people are gonna take it and run with it, and there necessarily won’t be any peer-reviewed papers available yet to refute them)


> will make research less fair and equitable Bold stance claiming more access to information, faster will make things less fair


Are you familiar with the research proposal process and telescope time?


I’m not OP but I’d like more info. Please elaborate


Researchers have to dedicate real time and resources to get telescope time. Time is so precious on an instrument like JWST that every second is fought over. A researcher might spend months or sometimes years coming up with a proposal which has to demonstrate why that idea is worthy of time, what scientific question its going to answer and how that benefits scientific knowledge. These proposals are huge and involved and if the results are made public immediately all that work is essentially for nothing because you have been scooped by a rival that didn't have to do that work. That is laid out in the article but apparently no one here with VERY STRONG OPINIONS bothered to read what SA said.


And the hold is to let said researchers analyze their experimental data and publish their papers. Once they publish, then the data becomes public.


It's much better than that. The proprietary period is whatever is shorter, publishing the data, or one year, and that's it. Nobody will be sitting on terabytes of secret JWST data in a decade's time.


So this change would take away that hold? Yea idk about that, seems like if someone put years of effort and work into something it only seems right to let them have first dibs, publish their results, then let the community in for peer review (how it normally works).


Yeah, this is exactly the issue. The [current top comment](https://www.reddit.com/r/space/comments/zd7rej/comment/iz0bobz/?utm_source=share&utm_medium=web2x&context=3) on this post does a great job of describing the problem.


This is right on. I’m in a very different field, but there’s increasing pressure to make all of our data freely available. Like, fuck no. Ask me nicely, say why, and I’ll probably be down to share and collaborate. But I spent years getting this stuff, and put a lot of thought into what data to collect and how to get it done. You bet your ass I want first dibs on analysis and publishing.


And who paid for it?


Exactly. I'm in a field with lots of physical fieldwork, and the idea of immediately putting my data up for grabs after a field season which took months of proposal writing and planning and weeks of physical labor to collect is wild. I'm happy to share it if someone wants to collaborate or verify my findings.




The fact of the matter is those with larger teams, more resources and therefore more money will be able to pump out papers the fastest and therefore be the only ones able to compete in publication. So yes it makes it far less equitable


Not really a bold stance to say that making things equal will not necessarily make them equitable. That's why they're two different words.


In the old days, people who reviewed proposals for telescope time were able to see the names of the people who submitted the proposals. This meant big name, famous astronomers and programs tended to get more telescope time, because the reviewers were more likely to pick their proposals. As it stands, proposals on where to point the JWST (and some other telescopes) are based on a blinded review process that has been widely praised for increasing fairness. Now no one can see the names of who made the proposal, and more proposals from other people are getting approved, even if those are people who are unknown or come from little known universities. If the data is released to the people who made the proposal first, they will get the chance to write and publish papers on it first. Even people from small programs, or students, or others can have a chance at publishing a novel paper based on their own ideas coming off of JWST. All they have to have is a great idea that gets approval telescope time. They don't have to have a big name, or lots of resources, they just have to be good astronomers with good ideas. But if all the data goes out immediately, then suddenly it's the big names and big programs that have the advantage. Now you can't be from a small program, or be a single researcher with a good idea, or be a student, and have a good chance of publishing novel research with JWST data. Because whenever the data collected because of your proposal gets taken, it's going to immediately hit the internet where any big institution can analyze it and write up a paper saying what you wanted to say long before you get the chance to do so.


I keep a pallet of canned food in my garage, I’m helping to fight world hunger


I’m helping wipe butts in need with my tp horde.


Yes, releasing the data immediately would make things less fair. It would mean that bigger or more experienced groups would steal other's people research and publish the results themselves.


This thread has confirmed that I should unsubscribe from this sub. The article makes a very good point. I thought we had good discourse but it’s obviously mostly amateurs living in their moms basements that have zero respect for the hard work of real scientists (read: spent 10+ years obtaining an advanced degree). This just shows that “the death of expertise” applies even to the people who frequent a space subreddit. If people here don’t respect experts, they are no better than religious zealots or those that practice astrology. These people put as much work into obtaining their PHD as medical doctors, and yet earn less money each year than I did when I was an inexperienced new engineer with a bachelors degree. Those comments saying “get over it, my tax dollars pay you” might as well be talking to an elementary school teacher being asked to work 60 hours a week with no additional pay. Both are publicly funded positions. You can still have some respect.


I didn't know much about this topic, read multiple comments from people actually working in the field and immediately understood the issue. The fact there's so many people arguing with actual scientists, saying they're "hampering the progress of knowledge for the masses" is mind-boggling. In an environment where there is no equal access to resources, you're not making anything fairer by completely dissolving any protection for intellectual work. It'd be like ending all copyright for art and telling the small creators who could now potentially have their ideas and work stolen and monetized by big companies to "get over it, ideas are free". No they're not, and even if you paid for the project in tax dollars, that doesn't mean the person actually doing the work and research shouldn't be rewarded for it. People getting paid in tax dollars are not your slaves, they must have their professional interests protected just like any other employee group. And the data will be publically released eventually - a year is nothing in the grand scheme of things, but it can make or break a paper or someone's individual career.




Totally agree. My favorite argument in this thread are the people who wouldn't even know how to download the raw data complaining that they don't have access to it a year early


I'm an experimental physicist. Never looked at this reddit before, was linked to it by one of my colleagues laughing at the amount of ridiculously ignorant BS in the comments.


This sub has really gone downhill with the comments. I recently left r/science, as nearly every comment was just garbage.


Well put. Rarely have I been so disappointed by the comment section. I was actually skeptical when I saw the title, but I read the article and was very much in agreeance with the author. And I don't even work in research or science.


Why would anybody spend months of their career writing a proposal if someone else is probably going to be able to scoop you on the final paper?


I agree with the authors - some period of data embargo is really critical to ensure that data may be used by the scientists who made the project possible.


STScI was supposed to do a poll in November of astronomers to get an idea of the actual opinions of astronomers about proprietary time on JWST. Would be nice to know if that poll actually happened and what the results were.


Just post it on Facebook and let everyone there decide its scientific meaning and voracity. Been working quite well for everything else.


I was extremely skeptical when I read this article but the author does make some relevant and compelling points. This feels like a solvable problem though, couldn’t nasa simply give people the ability to request a short grace period when they submit their application for time?


You just described the current system.


The reason this will hurt astronomy is that the incentives to do research will be removed. It's the same as patents. Why should anyone be allowed to not let anyone use your invention or be charged to use your invention if it helps humanity? The answer is that the patent incentivizes the process of inventing in the first place. I understand that JWST is publicly funded so this becomes trickier, but if you criticize this without providing alternatives, then your criticism is unhelpful.


People here who are whining about “public funding means public data” are missing an important point about incentive effects. It’s not just that people might be less willing to invest time in proposing novel discoveries (I don’t personally believe that’s true, but it’s a common argument in favor of proprietary embargoes). It’s that releasing data immediately encourages a free-for-all competition for publications where speed matters more than quality. This leads to a number of negative research outcomes which absolutely harm science and, to the extent that astronomy or any science matters to society, the public. When people move fast over any other concern, they make sloppy mistakes. They waste research effort by competing to essentially publish the same paper and findings. They waste reviewer and journal editor effort by forcing them to review multiple versions of the same paper. They might even resort to sabotage or other unethical behaviors. It’s less about scientists not working and more about scientists working inefficiently and in ways that may not further scientific inquiry. The public funds scientific data collection because we gain insight into the world around us via its collection and interpretation. Real-time release of that data without embargoing for analysis hurts science without any counterbalancing meaningful social benefits.


Great read, and I totally agree with the points; this is pretty much why patents are a thing too even though they can be used and abused but it's important someone has the ability to gain recognition over their work and it's not easily picked up and swiped by someone else simply because the data became available. As long as it's eventually released within a reasonable timeframe, that's all that really matters.




Did you even read the article? All the data becomes freely available. The issue about proprietary periods. The author makes a compelling argument.


Iirc, exclusivity for those who required that specific observation allows them to calmly analizing data and calmly come to not-rushed conclusions. Otherwise, scientists (probably also for the pride of having their names on published papers) would rash to avoid scientist from the opposite side of the world “steal” their conclusion


Its not pride… Published research is literally your resume, work and paycheck. If you can’t even finish/get credit your own research whats the point of even starting it if it won’t matter for you. Its a underpaid field thats not done out of altruism. Who cares if you have to wait a year. Its just going to be a headline for a few days to a week and we’ll move on. Its stupid to rush things if the only result is “oh neat” for the public.


All I can see is that if the people who collect it don’t get time to review it, it’s harder for them to get attention/reputation (in the current scientific landscape). So it’s a disincentive to spend lots of time collecting lots of quality data. Obviously incentivizing the collection to be freely shared would be good.


I could see unqualified people drawing premature conclusions that waters down the field and confidence in the endeavor.


100% this. It gets monetized by news sites and advertising jumping to conclusions.


That's your own dumb ass fault for listening to them then


Let’s get down to brass tacks here. If you aren’t reading the actual papers-and you aren’t-you don’t get to have an opinion. End of discussion.


I know very little about astronomy. In layman's terms can someone please explain what is going on?


Currently an astronomer can come up with an idea, develop it, have time with the JW telescope allocated and then have a year of exclusivity to analyse the data and publish the findings. NASA's proposal would release the data to the public straight away so someone else could see the data, guess the idea behind it and publish earlier. This incentivises the originators of the idea to rush the analysis to avoid being scooped, leading to worse science.


TLDR: it will make other scientists steal your work easier, before you had a 1 year dibs on whatever project you where working not anymore


Someone has to put in the effort and create a valid reason to be granted time on the telescope. This person then gets a year to analyze the data they requested and publish or do whatever with the results. Following that period it becomes public and any other scientist can use the data. Basically it's an incentive for those who put in the time and effort to find something of value to look at as opposed to letting everyone go ham on it right away. It also allows for more accurate results since there's much less rushing


Save it til it'll hurt astrology as well please


I have a question, why is NASA going to let Hubble crash and burn? Now I understand that the JWST is bigger and better, but so what? When I was in JR high we used simple, relatively, cheep, microscopes and I'm told electron microscopes are much better, yet there is much that can be done with simpler stuff. Does not that same concept work with Hubble? Yes, I know it has a broken 'hip' and it is old and temperamental, but are you saying it has no use? Why you wonder am I asking this? Well it is up there; getting the things made and up there are the expense parts.


I don’t know very much at all to properly conclude how I feel about this because im just an amateur science enthusiast—no researcher by any means. However, if I can add anything to this conversation, it’s that in his book A Life Decoded I read Craig Venter faced some issues with release of data and research and the argument of making all data publicly available vs keeping it under a paywall to encourage innovation and proper research… yeah and that’s as much as I think I know


I'm seeing a lot of comments about how much time and work it is to request and get JWST time, and how people spends weeks writing proposals that don't make it through. Wouldn't it be more efficient to have an advisory board just set up a series of observations for the JWST, make the data public, and give everyone access? Then we don't have PhDs wasting weeks writing proposals that get thrown away.


While I agree wholeheartedly with the sentiment here, the authors may have a point. Success or not in academia is almost entirely determined by your publication record. This motivates scientific research, and it also means that research data is typically kept secret until it’s published in a peer reviewed journal. Moreover, the threat of being scooped motivates rapid turnaround. As such, researchers are motivated to do pioneering research and publish it as fast as possible to become successful. If you force a researcher to make public their results before they’ve had a chance to publish their findings, then it’s entirely possible that someone not burdened by the experimental design and execution will be able to analyze and publish the findings before the original researcher. That simply isn’t fair - it’s almost like expecting someone to work for free - and as such, it will demotivate researchers. That’s bad for everyone.


I'll probably be buried because I'm late to the party here, but... Heliophysics (the field formerly known as Solar Physics and Space Physics) has long since adopted a strategy of short or no proprietary period on our space data, and the new hotness of the DKIST 4-meter ground-based solar observatory also has no proprietary period on most data. We've been doing business this way basically since the era of SOHO (launched 1995; instruments all went "open" around 1998). The downsides described in the editorial are largely paper tigers. "Scooping" of campaign data has not turned out to be an endemic problem, or even something that is not extremely rare. I currently lead a NASA heliophysics mission ([PUNCH](https://punch.space.swri.edu)) and we're pushing all our data out to the world as fast as possible, with no proprietary period at all.


Along with the other comment. Do you make any distinction between photon limited and non-photon limited astronomy?


What a fantastically horrible idea. “Hey, let’s not make this data the public paid for available to, you know, the public, until some researcher has had a chance to go over it for ~~several years~~ 6-18 months and pad his resume with a few scientific scholarly articles. You know, for science.” Screw off. Edit; happy now?


Be me. A professor. Working on a research project. Finally land a bid with JWST! Months go by. Finally it’s my window. Data comes in. Oop teaching obligation to attend to. Gonna take a bit longer to publish my research project that I’ve spent years on. Aaaaaand someone else published my research because they have access to the data that I spent countless hours of my life trying to make happen.


Worse, it’s a low quality publishing with lots of holes. It’d be a race to the bottom, 6 month embargo on data so one can research it deeply is good.


finally someone who sees the real problem with this


>several years Omg the number of people not reading the article and not having a clue is disgusting.




I can see the need for a reasonable time period. If it becomes available after 6 months, that is fairly reasonable. If it is immediately ready, it will allow scrupulous researchers the ability to "jump" the process by focusing on analysis prep and quick publishing.


Did you read the article? Probationary periods stretch from 6-18 months then the data becomes public.


$10billion / 331million Americans means we each paid roughly $30.21 for this. Give us what we paid for.


Are you personally reviewing the raw data as it comes out of the telescope? No? Then this really doesn't affect you. Giving a 6-12 month exclusivity period to the teams who write the proposal so that they can be the first to review the data isn't TAKING anything from you.


This ^^^ Those teams likely spent months writing proposals at just a chance at even getting the data, letting them exclusively have it for 6/12 months hurts no one. Why else would you even want the data before that buffer except for the reason of ‘I might find something in someone else’s stuff and want to beat them to it’


You get what you paid for by encouraging quality research on a research instrument. You *don’t get it* in a free for all. Quite the opposite actually. And learn a bit about how the discipline works because it’s like someone talking with authority about an alternator in a neighbor’s car, someone who never saw a car before. That’s you. You never actually knew anything about what it takes to get time on JWST, or any other competitive observatory or research instrument (particle accelerator experiments for example). You want to change policies based on what… nothing. You got nothing whatsoever other than “my money” argument. You and me paid that money so that people who actually know their shit can do their work for benefit of us all. You propose to shit in their breakfast. And lunch. And dinner. Is that the best use of your money? To shit on people?


You do get what you paid for, the data isn’t held exclusively forever. 12 months later, hey look, the data is available


It’s not just for Americans.


I didn't say it should be. NASA wasn't the only country's space agency involved, just the largest. Everyone should have the data.


Research institutions rely on the name recognition of their scientists and the research they do, in order to get the external grants and business partnerships which fund the bulk of the facilities and research activities. But many of those institutions are *also* funded in part by taxpayers. Don't those taxpayers have a stake? Reducing the incentive of those institutions to bother with the expensive part of research doesn't sound like much of a solution. It's a crappy system, and it does need to be changed, but change is hard. In the meantime, embargos are the cheapest and easiest way of keeping shady publishers and rival institutions (e.g. foreign diploma mills) from undermining the field any more than they already do. But sure, give Joe Taxpayer terabytes of raw observational data about a distant star in another galaxy *right now* instead of waiting 12 months. Surely *he'll* advance the field of science better and faster than that vain, CV-padding Poindexter who figured out how & what to gather in the first place. /s


After having it explained, yeah the embargo makes sense, I wouldn't want some random internet guy or research team discovering something, after having a very limited window to gather the data I need to do my own research.


The real reason they delay it is to hide all evidence of the dyson swarms at the center of the galaxy.


Can someone mark this thread 'Solved' ?


They need to grow up. It’s not about your reputation, it’s about the advancement of human knowledge. You don’t own the data if it was collected with a public resource. I think this is fantastic for the advancement of science.


Like fuck it is. Human knowledge doesn't get radically advanced because the data goes public a year earlier than normal. But the people who put in the effort to put together a novel proposal do risk getting stomped over by more established collaborations. So they have to rush things, and that can't be good for science. There's nothing so vital in astrophysics that a year's embargo will cripple the advancement of human knowledge.


Except the entire reason why people spend so much time developing their theories so that the telescope can even be used in the first place, is for their reputation in the field. There is less incentive to do this if other scientists can look over the proposal that got you the telescope time in the first place, wait for your data to become public, and then beat you to the punch in analyzing and submitting a publication on it.


Then shouldn't the solution be to adjust the publishing standards in the astronomy community? How about, "only the person who submitted the JWST time request gets to publish a paper with that data within 1 year of the data being released." Just make it part of the accepted scholarly standards. Make publishing using someone else's telescope data before a year passes no different than falsifying data, a massive career-ending violation of community norms.


Removing a 12 month wait on the data isn't "advancing" anything, it just means you lose the ability to claim your own discoveries. This public equipment would equally be worthless if we didn't have researchers telling us where the hell to point it. "Grow up" he says, as though people sacrificing the credit owed for years of their own work is a "maturity" problem. It's disgusting how generous you are with other people's time and effort.


As long as there are enough people willing to devote years of their lives to developing a hypothesis worthy of telescope time and people willing to fund those years of research with absolutely no protections for their ROI then you're right. I have less faith in humanity than you do though.


The world doesn't work like that kid.