“Opening” Up

There has been a great deal of discussion about the benefits of Open Science and Open Notebooks to the advancement of science, increase in exposure of an individuals work, and also the ability to collaborate with a much broader community. I have been an advocate for Open Science for quite some time, I have been talking about it with my undergraduate and graduate students working in my lab, I have added curriculum to my graduate courses that include discussions of Open Science and Open Access, but admittedly I have been slow to actually implement Open Science practices in my own laboratory.

I recently have come to a transition point in my lab, where my research focus has taken a slight turn, but consistent with my overall research interests, and I had complete turnover of students in my group.  I took this opportunity to reflect on lab operations and it was clear that I needed to practice what I preach. This reflection has lead me to develop a more “Open” approach to research practice.

After a few discussions about Open Notebooks I decided to partner with the Open Notebook Science Network to develop the Open Notebook/Open Science pelsuelab.org site that you are presently visiting (I would like to give special thanks to Brian Glanz for volunteering to build the site). I thought for my first blog entry I would take a moment to explain why I decided to “Open” up my lab.

A key turning point in my thinking about Open Access was listening to a presentation by Dr. Michael B. Eisen, and comment he later made on Twitter:

This implied to me that the future of publishing might just be the ability to post any piece of work and its value will be defined based on the content and how it is received and reviewed by experts in the field, if not the broader scientific community at large. This struck me as a naïve view of scientific publishing, but in fact the more I thought about it I realized it was a very advanced approach.  We could actually just provide our methods, data, and results and open up a discussion about its meaning and value rather than presenting it as a complete and defined story as we try to do in peer reviewed journals. While this model does open an individual to greater criticism and exposure—not to mention being the target of anti-science crackpots—but more importantly it could lead to greater discussion and collaboration within the scientific community at large.

I decided to take this idea to heart and not only commit myself to future publishing in Open Access sources (I am presently developing my first manuscripts to submit to Open Access Journals), but also to  Open Up the entire lab and move towards an Open Notebook, such that with the push of the enter button the progress in the lab would be open to all that are interested.

The more I thought about it, I also thought this would benefit my students as well.  I have tried to set up a process that will streamline their notebook recording, as well as my ability to review progress and issues for more immediate input. I also think that more thought might be given to the notebook knowing that others will be looking at their entries. I also envision that they will be able to more readily  convert their notebook into manuscript or thesis formats to increase the efficiency of publishing in my lab (something that has been an issue for me as I am typically the bottleneck in getting manuscripts organized and submitted). They would be able to demonstrate to potential graduate or medical programs, employers, etc.  their specific accomplishments, not just a listing of technical abilities on a resume or a manuscript in a c.v., but the actual data and analysis.

While we have just begun this journey I invite you to check back as often as you wish to see what’s happening in the Pelsue Lab.

The Pelsue Lab is now “Open”.