A big few weeks for open (notebook) science
So while I have been buried in the paper- and lab-work there has been quite a lot of interesting stuff going on. Pedro Beltrao has started an Open Notebook style project at Google Code which he describes in a post on Public Ramblings. This in interesting, because once again someone is using a different system as an Open Notebook. We have Wiki’s, Blogs, TeX based documents, and now, software version repositories being used. As Jean-Claude Bradley has said and we have discussed we have a lot to learn from exploring different systems, both in terms of understanding the benefits and limitations of specific systems on the way to designing and implementing better ones, but also from the perspective of what this tells us about how we do our science, and how this differs from discipline to discipline. Indeed, there already seems to be a place where this discussion has started in Pedro’s system. It is great to see this going forward and also great to see other members of the community, including Bill Hooker and Michael Barton already getting in and getting their hands dirty. I only wish I could contribute a bit more on the science itself.
Also good is the publicity that Open Notebooks and Open Notebook Science are getting. An article in Chemistry World, the member’s journal of the Royal Society of Chemistry, features UsefulChem, and discussion from Peter Murray-Rust, Steve Bachrach and others. Our efforts at Southampton even get a mention! What is good about this is not so much the personal publicity but that the mainstream ‘industry’ journals are increasingly starting to pick up the story. Not so long ago there was the article in Wired; Chemistry World has also recently discussed the issues associated with openness in a reasonably balanced manner (see also Peter Suber and Peter Murray-Rust’s commentaries).
In addition there is good coverage on the web. Rosie Redfield’s lab pages got featured by David Ng on World’s Fair on Science Blogs which was also picked up at BoingBoing (thanks to Neil Saunders for bringing this to my attention). Momentum is building as Neil says. The issues are becoming mainstream and the benefits are starting to flow through in specific cases. This is how things start to change. The challenge is in maintaining this forward momentum as it builds.