Enough Players to Hand Out Medals
I blogged last August about the first and second Provenance Challenge, in which the creators of systems for tracking scientific data and workflows were given sample problems, then asked to have their tools answer a variety of questions. (Results from the first were reported in Concurrency and Computation, but ironically, those articles are not openly available; the third challenge will kick off soon.) Chasing down one of those references again, I came across the Open Notebook Science Challenge, which "...calls upon people with access to materials and equipment to measure the solubility of compounds (aldehydes, amines and carboxylic acids are a priority) in organic solvents and report their findings using Open Notebook Science". This isn't quite the same thing as automatically tracking data provenance; instead, it is "...the practice of making the entire primary record of a research project publicly available online as it is recorded". There are lots of interesting research questions for computer scientists here, ranging from privacy and security issues to notification, peripheral awareness, ontological engineering, and more --- for example, see Cameron Neylon's latest post synthesizing discussion about using OpenID to identify scientific researchers and their contributions.