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Purav Patel

Rishi Technologies, Inc.

Promises and Perils of Research Software Data to Support Metascience

Research processes and products are increasingly digitized and shared on the cloud using specialized software services like the Open Science Framework, REDCap, and Zotero. Each stage of the research process is being modernized, with many new ways to plan, execute, and share projects effectively. These services contain or could contain data that metascientists need to study the structure and dynamics of scholarship. By mining big data, we may more accurately describe the nature of science, provide insights into inefficiencies, and draw attention to disparities. Organizations developing the software may also benefit from analyzing these data to better service scholars and scale more rapidly. But it is unclear how to do so effectively and without violating users’ privacy. To address this, we sketch several possible opportunities to leverage data from real and hypothetical research software ethically. We hope that our suggestions stimulate considerable and thoughtful discussion.