Science has a transparency problem. Some scientists are turning to DAOs

The major academic journal says DAOs are coming to science — and should be embraced by researchers

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The major academic journal Nature Biotechnology has published an editorial this week arguing for some of the potential benefits decentralized autonomous organizations (DAOs) could offer to science.

The article points out two main selling points for the research world adopting DAOs –  easier funding and greater transparency — and argues that scientific communities would ultimately be strengthened by adopting the DAO form.

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“So far, the DAO model seems to work best with projects that tackle a difficult problem or a traditionally underfunded area of research,” the editorial reads, pointing to VitaDAO, which funds life longevity research, alongside ValleyDAO and AthenaDAO, which focus on environmental sustainability and women’s health, respectively. 

Through DAO governance, researchers can collectively vote on whether to fund projects, and Nature suggests DAOs could mint the resulting intellectual property as an NFT. The DAO would own the resulting pseudo-patent.

The article additionally points out that DAOs could let patients in medical trials own their treatments, as is the case with hair-loss treatment collective HairDAO, where DAO members govern funding and get first access to sign up for new treatments.

Beyond funding decisions, Nature thinks DAOs can create stronger scientific communities. In the scientific world’s current system of academic peer review, feedback mostly happens in private, and a lack of accountability regarding research methods has led published scientific findings not to replicate

But with DAOs, the article notes, research processes could move on-chain, meaning funding, feedback and study results would be transparent and public.

So far, the integration of DAOs into scientific research is limited. But VitaDAO, which Nature calls a “flagship” science DAO, has already minted several projects as “IP-NFTs,” with most securing DAO funding allocations in the hundreds of thousands of dollars.


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