DeSci: Blockchain in Sciencе


Decentralized science, or DeSci, is an emerging trend that seeks to utilize blockchain and other distributed ledger technologies to address some of the most pressing issues the scientific community faces today. 

Problems in science

Science has always been one of humanity’s most important tools for improving people’s lives. Countless scientific discoveries and technological breakthroughs throughout human history have allowed us to expand our understanding of the universe, drastically extend the human lifespan, increase our production capabilities and bolster our creative impulses. To put it simply, our advances in science have had a profound impact on virtually every aspect of our lives. Yet, the scientific field is currently facing a number of challenges hampering the ability of researchers and scientists to produce meaningful results.

One major issue is the limited access to scientific knowledge, which stems largely from the overreliance on publishers. In order for a research paper to be taken seriously in academia, it needs to be published in a scientific journal. This not only limits the availability of information but also creates a paywall for the reader, as journals typically employ subscription models. In addition, some publishers charge hefty fees for publishing papers, which places a heavy financial burden on researchers.

The limited information access hinders the scientific community in a number of ways. It limits collaboration between researchers, which is one of the core tenets of the scientific method. It also fuels misconceptions about the scientific method which sows mistrust in science among the general public.

Finding funding for scientific research constitutes another major problem. More specifically, the current system leaves scientists scrambling to meet fairly rigid criteria in the hope of securing grants. This limits the scope of what projects are funded, prompting scientists to flock to certain types of research and leaving other important, but less flashy, fields neglected.

How decentralized science can help

The advent of blockchain and its rapid evolution has inspired a new movement aimed at tackling those issues – decentralized science. The technology’s disruptive potential is already being utilized in major industries like manufacturing, healthcare and pharma, so the ongoing effort to extend the blockchain revolution to the realm of science comes as no surprise. Especially, when so many of blockchain’s properties and features seem tailor-made for addressing the issues discussed above. Here are some of the ways in which the implementation of blockchain technology can bolster the scientific process.

Democratizing information access and knowledge sharing

One  of the core missions of blockchain technology is to eliminate the need for intermediaries and centralized oversight. This makes it the perfect tool to aid the ongoing quest for free access to academic papers and other scientific knowledge. Blockchain networks could power decentralized repositories for information, providing public access to a wealth of scientific research. At the same time, thanks to their immutability and cryptographically-secured consensus mechanisms, distributed ledgers could be used to guarantee the veracity of research papers, which would inspire greater confidence in science.

New funding mechanisms

Blockchain opens up a whole new world of fundraising options for the scientific community. Token sales provide one such option and some scientists have already experimented with sales of NFTs. In addition, various DeFi tools and strategies like staking could also be utilized to provide continuous streams of funds for scientific projects.

Lastly, we also have DAOs, which have introduced us to a new approach to crowdfunding. Setting up DAOs focused on financing specific projects, as well as the broader field, could be the key to having a fairer allocation of funds.

Greater collaboration and cooperation 

Speaking of DAOs, their utility goes well beyond mere crowdfunding. Where DAOs truly shine is in fostering vibrant communities around shared causes. DAOs offer the necessary infrastructure and governance mechanisms to facilitate seamless cooperation among like-minded people.

Beeyond DAOs, blockchain technology could be utilized to encourage cooperation within the scientific community in other ways. For example, it could be used to incentivize the peer review process, with scientists receiving token rewards for reviewing academic papers. 

Existing DeSci projects

There are already a number of DeSci initiatives today that aim to incorporate blockchain technology into the science industry. Such initiatives started in 2015 but transformed into an official movement in 2021 with the rise of more science-oriented DAOs, research groups auctioning NFTs and the formation of the term DeSci. Some of the leading biotech DAOs include Molecule – a decentralized funding ecosystem built on intellectual property NFTs or IP-NFTs for biotech IP and patents. IP-NFTs act as proof of ownership over intellectual property or patent that lives on a blockchain and help eliminate risks for investors.

Molecule stores immutable data on a blockchain, meaning that disputes related to patent ownership or invention credits are simple to resolve. 

Another example is VitaDAO – a funding community for longevity research and a drug development DAO that utilizes VITA tokens. Together with Molecule, VitaDAO realized the first IP-NFT transfer for funding novelty longevity therapeutics. Others like LabDAO, PsyDAO and SCINET are also contributing to the adoption of blockchain in science.


Blockchain may have the capacity to solve a lot of problems in the science community today but the state of the technology and how it is incorporated into the sector is still a far way from full sophistication. By decentralizing and opening up the scientific world, blockchain offers anyone access to projects and scientific data. This could create quality issues and disruptions in quality assessment. To eliminate such risks, some level of governance may be required. 

In addition, existing DeSci protocols may not have the capacity to fully understand previous scientific work. For science to progress, it’s essential to create protocols that are able to take into account historic scientific findings and stimulate progress. 

The road ahead 

By utilizing blockchain, decentralized science has the potential to create solutions and enhancements in the scientific world that could completely reshape the way research is conducted and findings distributed. However, to become truly decentralized and to avoid risks of compromising the quality of scientific discoveries, DeSci organizations will need to find ways to ensure scientific quality, some form of governance and the ability to upgrade the existing scientific process. As blockchain technology continues evolving, it will be exciting to see what else it can bring to the scientific table.