Oct 05

Lab books exposed

In academia and industry there is still a reluctance amongst many scientist to share the details of their work with the wider community. Science has a long history of publishing results in  peer-reviewed academic journals. However, a growing number of researchers think that there is scope for wider openness and access to more detail of their published work. I will leave the reasons why I support this open-access model to another time as it is really part of a bigger discussion about improving the dissemination of science to related fields and to the public. Shifting from the old model to one based around openness and sharing is a very slow process and requires changes both to the way science is funded and to the attitudes of current scientific researchers. While we are working on new ways to acquire funding in order to run open-access projects, like our soon to be launched crowd funded project, we are also keen to demonstrate ways that researchers can show their commitment to open-access work.

I first came across #showusyourlabnotes via the Open Science federation and Tommy Leung and immediately loved the idea! As a mini-campaign it provides scientist with a way of showing their support for open-science through action rather than just simply agreeing that the principle is sound. So, after surprisingly litter persuasion, the entire department (bar a few people that aren't in) has agreed to show off a random page of their lab-notes in support of open-science.

The lab books shown above (click to show more detail) cover a very wide range of work from optics lab work (Helen) to some pretty heavy algebra (Tom) and even some basic monolayer chemistry (Matthew). What we also hope this shows is that the work done in many fields of science is far from the neat and tidy experiments presented in journals and there is a wealth or techniques and data hidden away in lab books and notes.

N.B. As the department is currently funded by fairly traditional routes the majority of the work we do is protected by confidentiality agreements, so a few of the lab-books might be a little dated. It is a testament to the need for open-science that the fine detail of work that has already been published is still protected under confidentiality agreements!