Understanding Decentralized Science, one of the latest DAO trends

Understanding Decentralized Science, one of the latest DAO trends

Earlier this year, VitaDAO made the headlines after closing a $4.1 million funding round with Pfizer Ventures and several others. The DAO, which funds research projects in the field of longevity science, is but one of several other decentralized science (DeSci) initiatives that have recently received funding from investors.

The concept of decentralized communities has been touted as the future of several industries, slowly disrupting sectors like finance, arts and entertainment, and even corporate management. One area that has so far been overlooked but rapidly gaining traction is decentralized science.

According to Ethereum.org, DeSci is “a movement that aims to build public infrastructure for funding, creating, reviewing, crediting, storing, and disseminating scientific knowledge fairly and equitably using the Web3 stack.

To understand the importance of DeSci and how decentralized communities are pioneering a shift from the status quo, let’s start by exploring the current state of things in the scientific research field.

The Problem

There will be no need for a solution or improvement if there was no problem. Like many traditional setups, the scientific research industry has its fair share of shortcomings, including the lack of transparency, inefficiencies, and gatekeeping. Examining the DeSci Ecosystem, DAO aggregator ThePass explained in a recent Medium post that “funding [was] a sharp pain point” for scientists. Notably, they linked a researcher’s ability to access funding to his/her h-index, “which is used to quantify the impact of scientists’ publications.”

Under pressure, scientists tend to chase after fresh hot topics to attract attention.

A second problem, which has already been mentioned is data-gating, which essentially involves restricting access to data and research materials. ThePass asserts that “a large amount of scientific data is only published in paid content in journals or kept in some private databases.

Challenging the Status quo

We’ve already witnessed DAOs and blockchain in general challenge existing structures. NFTs, for instance, are empowering a new wave of creators. DeFi lending has removed middlemen from the transaction chain. The emergence of decentralized science organizations (DeSci) has promised to address some of the issues raised above by using blockchain technology and decentralized networks.

At a rudimentary level, the primary goal of DeSci is to create a decentralized, transparent, and efficient platform for scientific research. For one, DeFi tools can be used to solve the funding challenge. There are already a plethora of options in this regard, such as decentralized crowdfunding and NFTs.

DeSci can also eliminate the need for middlemen by directly connecting researchers, peer reviewers, and funders. Scientists currently rely on intermediary platforms like journals to publish or access peer-reviewed research. Some of these major publishers charge over $10,000 per publication. However, using smart contracts can eliminate these expensive intermediaries.

Existing players in the DeSci space

It may interest you to know that science-based blockchain efforts can be traced back to 2015. However, a large-scale movement did not begin until 2021, amid the NFT frenzy. ThePASS was able to compile a total of 102 DeSci-related organizations, categorized as DAOs, BIOTECH Research, Communities, Decentralized Funding of Science, Institutes, NFTs about DeSci, Publishing, and Protocols & Data.

Of all the categories, DAOs controlled the largest share, accounting for 29% of the market distribution. ResearchHub is presently the highest-ranking asset of DeSci DAO, with a total treasury size of more than $6 million. That said, some of the top players in the space include VitaDAO, Valley DAO, Molecule DAO, Neura DAO, BREAKER DAO, Cure DAO, Psy DAO, Hair DAO, Athena, Lab DAO, and talentDAO.eth.

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