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The institutions of science are in a state of flux. Declining public funding for basic science, the increasingly corporatized administration of universities, increasing “adjunctification” of the professoriate and poor academic career prospects for postdoctoral scientists indicate a significant mismatch between the reality of the market economy and expectations in higher education for science. Solutions to these issues typically revolve around the idea of fixing the career "pipeline", envisioned being a pathway from higher-education training to a coveted permanent position, and then up a career ladder until retirement. In this paper, we propose and describe the term “ecosystem” as an appropriate way to conceptualize today’s scientific training and the professional landscape of the scientific enterprise. First, we highlight the issues around the concept of “fixing the pipeline”. Then, we articulate our ecosystem metaphor by describing a series of concrete design patterns that draw on peer-to-peer, decentralized, co-operative, and commons-based approaches to creating a new dynamic scientific enterprise.
We have updated and streamlined text in response to feedback from public review. This included adding references Lazebnik 2015, Casadevall & Fang 2012, changes to text in boxes 2 and 5, fixing of some typographical errors, and update of acknowledgements.