I've noticed a few articles and resources around open research in the last few weeks. Last week, when I was visiting my parents in Florida, I noticed my Dad's copy of Scientific America had an excellent article called Science 2.0 -- Is Open Access Science the Future? that talks about the advantages and disadvantages of carrying out science in the open, on the web. The article suggests advantages such as a better dialog with people, and more opportunities for collaboration. The article points to the OpenWetWare project at MIT, which is a a wiki for biology researchers.

Another excellent resource is the podcast interview by Jon Udell of Jean-Claude Bradley. Jean-Claude is a professor of chemistry at Drexel University who started to make the scientific process as transparent as possible by publishing all research work in real time to a collection of public blogs, wikis and other web pages. He coined the term Open Notebook Science which he describes as: "... there is a URL to a laboratory notebook (like this) that is freely available and indexed on common search engines. It does not necessarily have to look like a paper notebook but it is essential that all of the information available to the researchers to make their conclusions is equally available to the rest of the world. Basically, no insider information."

I really like the idea of 'no insider information' - to put all your successes and failures, every experiment, every bad result out there for everyone to see. Your lab notebook is open for the whole world to see.

Jean-Claude has a presentation that outlines how they use Open Notebook science at Drexel, that is pretty interesting (albeit, quite focused on chemistry). They use a Wiki to serve as the lab notebook. They rely on the automatic versioning of the wiki software to maintain track of edits, so they always know 'who did what' and 'when'. This addresses some of the concerns Elias raised about making the research record be permanent. They will then use their blog to highlight interesting results or questions.

To me, this is all pretty interesting, especially for the Music Information Retrieval community. The MIR community has lots of disciplines: musicology, signal processing, machine learning, library science, text IR, coding, user interface, and on on. No one can know all there is to know in this field, so anything that can help increase the opportunities for sharing ideas can really push forward the whole research community.

There are already a number of MIR researchers that are putting their research on line. ( Mark Godfrey Yves Raimond to name just a couple). I suspect that more researchers would work this way if the tools were available and the advantages were laid out. Perhaps this would be a good topic for a panel at ISMIR this year. Since Jean-Claude Bradley is at Drexel there could even be an opportunity to have Jean-Claude sit on the panel to serve as the 'expert'. This panel could be about how to do 'open notebook science' with some feedback from folks who are already doing that in the MIR community. I, myself, would find this panel to be very interesting.

Of course, we are way past the time to submit panels to ISMIR, so there may not be any chance to have such a panel, but it doesn't hurt to try .. so if enough MIR folks express some interest to me (just add a comment to this post or send me an email), I'll talk with the ISMIR organizers to see if this would be possible.


[Trackback] Mad Hatter suggests an Alternative Careers blog. I like the idea a lot! I've been spending some time on FriendFeed, especially in the Life Scientists room. Cameron explains how it works. Dave Winer (who brought us blogging software, RSS and...

Posted by A Blog Around The Clock on June 22, 2008 at 09:14 PM EDT #

Hello Paul!
I would be really glad to contribute to such a panel!

Posted by Yves on June 23, 2008 at 05:19 AM EDT #

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