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New Year’s Resolutions 2009

1 January 2009 4 Comments

Sydney Harbour Bridge NYE fireworksAll good traditions require someone to make an arbitrary decision to do something again. Last year I threw up a few New Year’s resolutions in the hours before NYE in the UK. Last night I was out on the shore of Sydney Harbour. I had the laptop – I thought about writing something – and then I thought – nah I can just lie here and look at the pretty lights. However I did want to follow up the successes and failures of last year’s resolutions and maybe make a few more for this year.

So last year’s resolutions were, roughly speaking, 1) to adopt the principles of the NIH Open Access mandate when choosing journals for publications, 2) to get more of the existing data within my group online and available, 3) to take the whole research group fully open notebook, 4) to mention Open Notebooks in every talk I gave, and 5) attempt to get explicit funding for developing open notebook approaches.

So successes – the research group at RAL is now (technically) working on an Open Notebook basis. This has taken a lot longer than we expected and the guys are still really getting a feel for what that means both in terms of how the record things and how they feel about it. I think it will improve over time and it just reinforces the message that none of this is easy.  I also made a point about talking about the Open Notebook approach is every talk I gave – mostly this was well received – often there was some scepticism but the message is getting out there.

However we didn’t do so well on picking journals – most of the papers I was on this year were driven by other people or were directed requests for special issues, or both. The papers that I had in mind I still haven’t got written, some drafts exist, but they’re definitely not finished. I also haven’t done any real work on getting older data online – it has been enough work just trying to manage the stuff we already have.

Funding is a mixed bag – the network proposal that was in last New Year’s was rejected. A few proposals have gone in – more haven’t gone in but exist in draft form – and a group of us went close to getting a tender to do some research into the uptake of Web 2. tools in science (more on that later but Gavin Baker has written about it and our tender document itself is available). The success of the year was the funding that Jean-Claude Bradley obtained from Submeta (as well as support from Aldrich Chemicals and Nature Publishing Group) to support the Open Notebook Science Challenge. I can’t take any credit for this but I think it is a good sign that we may have more luck this coming year.

So for this year – there are some follow ons – and some new ones:

  1. I will re-write the network application (and will be asking for help) and re-submit it to a UK funder
  2. I will clean up the “Personal View of Open Science” series of blog posts and see if I can get it published as a perspectives article in a high ranking journal
  3. I will get some of those damn papers finished – and decide which ones are never going to be written and give up on them. Papers I have full control over will go by first preference to Gold OA journals.
  4. I will pull together the pieces needed to take action on the ideas that came out of the Southampton Open Science workshop, specifically the idea of a letter signed by a wide range of scientists and interested people to a high ranking journal stating the importance of working towards published papers being fully supported by data and methodological detail that is fully available
  5. I will focus on doing less things and doing them better – or at least making sure the resources are available to do more of the things I take on…

I think five is enough things to be going on with. Hope you all have a happy new year, whenever it may start, and that it takes you further in the direction you want to go (whether you know what that is now or not) than you thought was possible.

p.s. I noticed in the comments to last year’s post a comment from one Shirley Wu suggesting the idea of running a session at the 2009 Pacific Symposium on Biocomputing – a proposal that resulted in the session we are holding in a few days (again more later on – we hope – streaming video, micro blogging etc). Just thinking about how much has changed in the way such an idea would be raised and explored in the last twelve months is food for thought.


  • I certainly enjoyed the presentations where we were both physically present in 2008. Hopefully I’ll see you at many more this year. Based on your plans it is clear that momentum continues to build in a positive direction…

  • I certainly enjoyed the presentations where we were both physically present in 2008. Hopefully I’ll see you at many more this year. Based on your plans it is clear that momentum continues to build in a positive direction…

  • Great post and wishing you best of luck with these resolutions! –S

  • Great post and wishing you best of luck with these resolutions! –S