What prevents getting scooped?
Thinklab encourages a completely open model of scientific research. Because of this it's reasonable to be concerned about having work stolen or scooped. In a certain sense, it's actually what we want! We want others to be able to immedietly learn from and build upon your ideas. The important thing is, of course, you get credit.
To make sure you get credit we assign DOIs to proposals and all ongoing updates and discussions. Thinklab projects are conducted in the open with participation from multiple scientists around the world. Ask yourself this: if you saw an open research project on Thinklab would you try to steal the work and "publish it first", arguing that Thinklab isn't a legitimate form of scientific publishing? Or alternatively, might you instead choose another project to work on and perhaps contribute your ideas to the existing Thinklab project, earning some money along the way?
Won't introducing money into science corrupt it?
Money is already in science. The simple fact of the matter is scientists need money to do their research. And with a limited supply of funding there is always going to be a strong incentive to do what it takes to get funded (or hired). So yes, money creates a strong incentive -- but there are already strong incentives in science. Publish-or-perish is no joke. The important question is: are the incentives in the system creating behavior that's aligned with the values of science?
We believe the current academic reward system, which compels a singular focus on publishing papers, is no longer producing behavior that's aligned with the best interests of science. Thinklab aims to fix this broken system by distributing money in a way that realigns incentives with scientific values. We believe that having scientists work together openly over the internet is clearly something that's in the best interests of science.
Won't people try to game the system?
Yes, they likely will. But we've carefully designed things so that gaming the system essentially amounts to figuring out how to add the maximum value to science through your contributions. Yes, people may figure out ways to cheat, but our team has substantial experience with algorithms and we are confident we'll be able to handle any issues as they arise.
Finally, please keep in mind that if we define 'gaming' as individuals taking action in their own interests at the expense of the greater good, then we can see that the current system is massively gamed. Everytime a scientists doesn't share their data, doesn't share their methods, or chooses not to help their peers when they know they have valuable feedback, it's gaming the system. It may be the behavioral norm but we should see it for what it is. So even if there is some gaming of Thinklab, we expect it would still likely be a huge improvement over the status quo.
Doesn't the fact that Thinklab is a for-profit company interfere with the mission of supporting open science?
No, we don't think so. The important thing is that the science is open. If we look at some of the "evil" for-profit journals, the reason they are evil is that their business model fundamentally conflicts with the values of science. They make their money by restricting the flow of scientific information. Thinklab's business model is to help science funders get the most from the money they give to scientific research. This might be a problem if we were working for corporate funders but it's our explicit intent to work for organizations that are funding science for the public good. That means our incentive is to do whatever we can to increase the efficiency and effectiveness of our scientific system. And finally, we're not just doing this to make money -- we're doing it to create a better world!
Why isn't Thinklab itself open source?
Open sourcing Thinklab at this point would be creating an unnecessary existential risk to our business. We want to gain adoption from scientists and science funders and build a sustainable business. We believe we are solving a problem that requires a level of innovation that would be extremely difficult to accomplish and sustain as a non-profit. In the future as Thinklab becomes more established we may consider open sourcing the Thinklab code (or parts of it) if the community feels it is important.