Mini-success for open notebook science

I’ve been talking to a lot of non-open scientists lately and I can tell they are really intrigued by what I do (as far as openness is concerned). My friend John is beginning to see the power in open access and so are a few others. This is a success in my book because every little bit helps.

But lately I started to date someone (Jacqueline) who immediately was turned on by the idea of open notebook science. She thought it was really cool but said there was almost no way her advisors would let her do it.

Anyways, Jacqueline just started a rotation in a molecular biology lab at the UNM Cancer Research Facility (which I just found out has no mention online, so sorry no link) and she is being trained to do transformations of E. coli, PCR, ligations, etc. To help her get an understanding of the experiments she will be carrying out I showed her my OpenWetWare notebook which houses all my molecular biological information.

I told her it’s all open so she should feel free to browse around and I explained how I set my notebook up to help make her navigation a bit easier.

The next day Jacqueline approached me and told me how useful my notebook was for her in understanding the experiments and to understand the setup. She then told me the most beautiful words I’ve ever heard…

“I want an open notebook.”

And of course I told her she could have one, and that I would explain how I’ve come to use various media to record information. A crash course in open notebook science if you will. And I’m extremely excited to teach the lesson, and I’m sure she is equally excited to learn about it.

But this little anecdote reminds me of an important issue. At ScienceOnline 2012, it was asked in my ONS session if there should be a site that is dedicated to open notebook success stories. The point would be to show people the benefits of open notebook science so there would be less hesitation to join the fun.

I agree that something should be set up and I’ll need to speak with some people that I met at the conference as well as other leaders in the field to try and establish some success stories (both big and small) that would be worth mentioning. I think at the very least, there should be a comment type setup, where people can just leave their own success stories. That would be very powerful. A shorter version of the story above would be an excellent candidate.

Brian Glanz of the Open Science Federation (got it right this time) had a brief discussion about it with me at the conference and he mentioned it on a post of mine here. Let’s brain storm this idea and get it off the ground!