Open notebook science is simply the practice of making your entire research project available online as it is recorded. This online location is known as an open notebook and is the online analog to the paper notebook most scientists keep in their lab. It is the storage center for project plans, experimental protocols and setups, raw data, and even unfiltered interpretations. An open notebook can be any kind of website, as long as it suits the needs of the scientist and is available publicly (some useful notebook platforms).
Open notebook science (ONS) was first coined in 2006 by Jean-Claude Bradley (Drexel University), to clarify a subdivision of open science (which at the time was known as open source science) and to avoid confusion with the term open sourced software. The term itself is an umbrella for several types of notebooks that are classified by publication time, from immediate to delayed posting, and content, ranging from all research content to some content.
Ideally, every scientist would maintain an open notebook in real-time which would encompass all aspects of their research. But many fears about dealing with complete open access, conflicts with intellectual property and publications, and online data overload hamper this movement. To combat this, practitioners encourage any form of open notebook science, even if that means uploading some information for a project from many years ago that never saw the light of day.
The goal of this practice is to enhance the scientific process. Through open notebooks, scientists would no longer need to repeat experimental errors made by colleagues. Access to raw data and published analyzed data would be provided. There would be no need to search through old handwritten notes from past lab members or past projects.
The benefits of ONS are numerous, not just personally but professionally as well. What’s more, many of the fears and drawbacks are actually misconceptions and don’t interfere with traditional scientific culture. To learn more about the misconceptions of dealing with open access and the benefits of pursuing open notebook science continue reading:
- What is open science?
- Why should you keep an open notebook?
- The effect of ONS on intellectual property.
- Open notebook platforms.
- Open notebook practices.