Fostering Open Science Research Collaborations With Opscientia
See how Request Finance enables collaborative research teams around the world to easily manage global payroll in crypto.
Opscientia faced challenges in managing global payroll in crypto, tracking outstanding payments, denominating crypto invoices in fiat prices, and paying on different chains with various tokens.
As the treasurer for Opscentia, Shady El Damaty needed a way to pay salaries and reimburse expenses in crypto for their global team, including freelancers for various tasks.
Opscentia came across Request Finance for the first time when OceanDAO used it to disburse their first grant funding, which helped them bootstrap a community of researchers to form a Neuroscience Data DAO.
The timing was perfect. The Opscentia team discovered Request Finance just as they were wondering how to manage invoices, and keep track of their organization’s crypto payments easily.
Request Finance allowed Opscientia to send contractors a link to a pre-filled invoice with all billing details, making the payment process incredibly convenient.
Whenever someone asks “How do we pay you?”, they simply put that InvoiceMe link in the contract’s payment terms.
Not only is it easy to issue crypto invoices, but having a single dashboard where you can see all of our outstanding payments is great.
Additionally, being able to denominate crypto invoices in fiat prices, while also having the option to choose to pay on different chains, and in so many different tokens is really powerful.
“I like the clean look and feel of the app” - Shady El Damaty, Ph.D. neuroscientist and Co-Founder at Opscientia
The Opscientia team haven’t felt the need to look for alternatives ever since they first discovered Request Finance. Everything was set up and running in 15 minutes after OceanDAO team put together a one-pager on Github for grant claimants.
They love the fact that the app is built on a Web3-native stack, but with a familiar Web2 user interface. It doesn’t feel overwhelming, or daunting to use.
Some features they would love to see in future updates are privacy options to hide certain payments data while still allowing auditability on demand for compliance, and integrations with traditional accounting software like Quickbooks.
“Request Finance simplifies managing crypto payments to and from anyone around the world. Having a single dashboard where you can see all of our outstanding payments is great. Being able to denominate crypto invoices in fiat prices, while also having the option to pay on different chains, and in so many different tokens is really powerful.”
Shady El Damaty, Ph.D. neuroscientist and Co-Founder at Opscientia
There are three essential components of scientific research: access to data, research tools like analytics software, and financial structures that fund the long and uncertain process of producing new, useful knowledge.
Openness is key to both the integrity, and productivity of science. Just as chefs need recipes that can be reproduced reliably, science works best when the data, research tools, and funding are widely available to as many people as possible.
“Individual scientists may, or may not be honest. But science, with its safeguards of peer review and repeating experiment, has scrupulous honesty built into it by design. Science replaces private prejudice with publicly verifiable evidence.”
- Richard Dawkins, The Enemies of Reason: The Irrational Health Service, 2007
But the reality of science today can be a far cry from that ideal. Less than 10% of data collected by publicly funded research in the US is published, and an average 70% of researchers have failed to replicate their colleagues’ work across disciplines like Physics, Biology and Psychology.
The inaccessibility of science hinders technological progress in key areas of research that could produce new life-saving drugs, or develop better machine learning algorithms to augment human labor.
Over the last decade, the open science (OpSci) movement has gained traction thanks to the ubiquity of the internet. But the high costs of big data storage, the lack of universal identity management, and the absence of incentives for data-sharing, are some limitations of Web2 platforms today.
That’s where Opscientia, the OpSci Decentralized Autonomous Organization (DAO), comes in.
Founded by Shady El Damaty, and a team of fellow cognitive neuroscientists in early 2021, the DAO aims to further the OpSci movement through Web3 technologies like decentralized cloud storage and compute networks, open data markets, and decentralized identity (DID) tools.
The Opscientia team has been steadily growing its community by reaching out to scientists working with big data to better understand their problems, and developing Web3 applications with those insights in mind.
For instance, Opscientia’s Open Science Commons allows researchers to easily drag and drop datasets to decentralized file storage networks for peer-to-peer sharing, with permissions management, and programmable incentives to encourage collaboration.
Towards the end of 2021, they also began collaborating with MIT and Dartmouth to address problems in archiving massive neuroimaging datasets collected via the Obama BRAIN initiative. This led to the creation of the OpSci Commons, a data commons for free and persistent archival of large datasets.
Over the past year, the Opscientia team has been focused on developing Holonym, a zero knowledge smart identity wallet. Built to support a universal decentralized identity and reputation directory, Holonym allows researchers to verify their credentials in a privacy-preserving manner. Users of the wallet can also strengthen their credentials by linking additional accounts on Web2 platforms like Github, Open Science Framework, and Twitter.
DeSci Nodes, TalentDAO, vScholar, and LabDAO, have all since expressed interest in utilizing Holonym to support identity and reputation management for peer reviewers, authors, and scientific service providers.
The issues Holonym addresses are not unique to science, and can be extrapolated to many other economic enterprises that have transitioned to primarily digital workflows. The excitement around general use cases for Holonym led to multiple meetings with investors, eventually concluding in a successful $480,000 pre-seed round.
With fresh funding secured and a growing, global team of ten, Opscientia continues to work with various research communities to use Holonym to integrate new Web3 technologies with existing Web2 academic reputation and credential systems.
The team is also eager to design novel funding mechanisms like impact certificates linked to verified academic credentials.
Scientific research in one field can often lead to innovations in other applications.
Similarly, Shady hopes that the applications and primitives developed by Opscientia can not only democratize science, but also change the way organizations collaborate to create value in a digital economy.
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