What do universities, journals, and government need to do to stimulate breakthrough scientific discovery?

Answer by Rishabh Jain:

The biggest change that needs to occur is researchers need to be able to more easily access relevant, actionable insights from work that has already been done.
This means that discovering/accessing results and experiments either from publications or from the dusty lab notebooks of grad student needs to be much easier and faster. This will enable the greatest leverage on researchers time: They will be able to quickly do the experiments that matter and not spend a ton of time reproducing results that are already known.
There are 2 critical components to making this possible:
  1. Making results accessible and machine readable
  2. Developing methods to parse existing data to derive actionable insight
1) Making results accessible and machine readable: Currently only PLoS enables open access via an API to their articles for both access and machine readability. We need to go several steps further. We definitely need at least all journals to make their data available via an API, even if we can't get them to open access.
Importantly, we need to figure out a way to have the results that are unpublished available to others in a structured manner. It is too well known that 99% of research results don't make it into the journal article. To get there, research needs to be documented in a structured manner and then needs to be made available when the researcher sees fit. In fact, this is part of the core mission of my startup, OpenLab, where we enable researchers to store and share data in a highly structured easily searchable fashion within the lab. So at the very least you can learn from your own past work and your labmates' work. 
However, to get to the end goal of truly open data sharing will require government agencies and universities to start imposing open access of not only the publications, but also the full body of work that goes along with the research. The NIH and the Gates foundation are leading this charge with their policies. The role of the journal must be to enable greater access and machine readability. Functionally, they can continue to act as the article repository, and in addition to the SI, provide a  link to the structured full data set (wherever that may be hosted).
2) Developing methods to parse existing data to derive actionable insight: Once we have all of the data available to us, the real question is how to do we make use of it in a meaningful way. In order to do this universities and governments should sponsor programs to develop parsing algorithms so it is easy for the researcher to find and discover relevant work that has already been doe in the past. This will essentially be a recommendation engine for research, not unlike google now is for consumer goods and services.
We need a future in research where we can leverage researchers time at least 10 – 100x, and thus equally increase the odds of greater number of breakthrough discoveries. The beautiful thing is the information already exists to do so. We just need to make it actionable!

What do universities, journals, and government need to do to stimulate breakthrough scientific discovery?

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