Ideas about ONS spawned from #scio12 conversations

…that I plan to expand upon in future posts.

Talking with everyone about open science face-to-face is super exciting. It’s one thing to hear all the activity online, but to see that others are as excited about this stuff as I am is sheerly amazing. And from this excitement many ideas have come to surface. Not all of them are hashed out, but they are all worth mentioning and hopefully expanding upon. Here are some things that have been mentioned:

  • Making ONS viable for the common scientist is a pretty big hurdle. Not only is it already challenging to get PI’s to allow young scientists to go open access, but it is overwhelming to get into with all the options available. The viability of ONS is extremely important to me and I think WordPress is going to be key.
  • An overlooked key aspect of ONS is the fact that every part of a project is traceable. From the data you can discover the methods to how the data was acquired and analyzed. How many scientists look at a figure and wonder how a researcher reaches those conclusions? I’m guessing a lot, and ONS removes the question marks.
  • Signal to noise… posting all data and methods creates a lot of information in one location. How are others supposed to find the meaningful results in the sea of data? This is one of the reasons that I wrote the post about effective design and navigation in a notebook. If users can’t find the information they need immediately, then the information is almost useless. Curating and organizing this data takes time, but in the end is worth it and makes you a much better scientist!
  • I think citizen science can be incorporated into ONS. Why should notebooks contain only science done in labs? Why can’t notebooks be used to engage not just the scientific community, but also the local or global community?
  • Engaging the scientific community, in general, is a major obstacle. Why do people frequently comment on blogs and websites, but scientists refuse to leave comments on peer reviewed papers or fact based web pages? What is the barrier and how can it be removed?
  • Mark Hahnel (of FigShare fame) suggested a site that lists the success of ONS. onssuccess.com anyone?
  • And as an umbrella to that, why isn’t there a site that is a repository for all the open notebooks in the world. A live feed of posts from these notebooks seems very feasible and could be a way to organize the movement of open notebook science. opennotebook.org could be a thing…
  • Curating notebooks is a major concern to me. Scientific data is obviously important, and the internet is a very dynamic place. Trusting that resources will be around long term is a concern and even more so for the self-hosted guys (like myself). Can there be a place that guarantees the longevity of notebooks? Talking with Brian Glanz of Open Science Foundation has revealed that business seem to have more sway in universities than understood, because otherwise why wouldn’t libraries take up the cause?

I’m sure there is a lot that I’m forgetting, but these were the biggest ideas that I can think of.  Some of this stuff is in need of a solution. This will come in time, but I hope to be part of the solution.

In addition to that, the spirit of the conference has given me two very interesting ideas:

  1. An unclass about open notebook science. The idea of the unconference is to spark discussion amongst peers and I think in the context of ONS this can be done in a class. Right now there is no wrong way to do an open notebook, so the first unclass will have to be a discussion about what are the core values of ONS and open science in general. The students would then be given complete freedom to choose the notebooking medium that they want, and classes would engage discussion about what are the benefits and downfalls of their chosen medium. Discussions would then evolve into problems with ONS and successes of it as well. This could be really awesome since there would be a mini community of notebookers and they could all learn from each other. It would be a small scale case study of the proliferation of notebooks! I think I’ve convinced myself to do this now!
  2. A class or two on effective communication in science. A lot of this notebook is geared toward inclusive information, and by that I mean I always explain things as simply as possible so that anyone can understand what I mean (or at least I try to). I would like to talk about principles of design and writing that I’ve learned over the years from being a graphic designer and a blogger and apply them to the scientific setting. Teaching this to the next level of scientists will ensure that the future of science is in good hands. In much the same way that journals brought a change in scientific culture over 400 years ago, these principles can take science to a whole new level. Everyone here at ScienceOnline gets it, why doesn’t the rest of the scientific community?

As always feel free to leave your thought below. I completely encourage criticism of any sort!

  • Brian Glanz

    *Federation, thanks. opennotebook.org, opennotebooks.org, and popular variations are taken. We might not have the right name yet, but open domains include opennotebookshelf.org and onsshelf on Twitter, opennotebooknetwork.org or onsnetwork.org and the Twitter onsnetwork are available. Not that you need another Twitter handle necessarily :) but worth a check.

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