Exclusivity stops you from diving deep.
An elite group is a group of individuals where some special level of skilling makes these particular individuals eligible to join. An exclusive group is a group that has created a scarcity and manages entry. The group reserves the rights to join. Private clubs can be really exclusive while not being regarded as elite (at least by others). I had this group of friends in second grade who would run together around the playground during recess. We were very careful not to let others join. We were practicing being exclusive. The power to say no to someone was new and satisfying. It was also mean and arbitrary. We thought we were elite. We were just stuck-up. By the fourth grade I was on the outside being told no to. Lesson learned.
Free divers as a cohort can support an elite group among them without needing to consider restricting entry, without becoming exclusive. You want to be an elite free diver? Work at it. Dive deeper. Then dive even deeper. You can achieve elite status on your own.
The Academy is already pretty elite. Only about one percent of humans over the age of twenty-one have a PhD. Only a very small minority of people (with or without PhDs) decide to spend vast amounts of their time exploring unknowns in the universe. This means that the academy has no need to also be exclusive. Like claims for “excellence” (Moore et al, 2017), claims for exclusivity are counter-productive. They announce that science can only be accomplished by a selected few. Selected by whom? Editors at Elsevier? Still, within the cohort of scientists, some are known as really good scientists. These elite scientists are self-selecting. They select how much work they plan to put into doing good science. You want to be an elite scientist? Get really good at doing science.
Open science is an escalator to becoming elite.
Open science will help you to do what you need to do to become and elite scientist: build your knowledge, your craft, and your reach. Share your research work flow so others can offer advice and kudos. Share because sharing accelerates the feedback that drives new ideas in your own work. Share because others will take your data to places you never considered. Open science is the smart way to become elite. Be elite not through some erzatz “journal impact factor” but by sharing your work openly, and by being generous with your colleagues, particularly those few who are struggling with the same object of study you have chosen.
You and a handful of other scientists have somehow been drawn to the same problem, the same phenomenon. Together you can dive deeper into this problem than you can ever go alone. The only impact factor you need is the one that comes in your inbox from a colleague thanking you for solving one of their research pain points.
See Seth Godin’s Akimbo Podcast <https://www.akimbo.me/> Episode 14 on Genius for more on elite vs. exclusive.
Moore, S., Neylon, C., Eve, M.P., O’Donnell, D.P. and Pattinson, D., 2017. “Excellence R Us”: university research and the fetishisation of excellence. Palgrave Communications, 3, p.16105.
Photo credit: Chris Dorward on Flickr. CC by 2.0
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