Science Online New York (SoNYC) encourages audience participation in the discussion of how science is carried out and communicated online. To celebrate our first birthday, we are handing the mic over to the audience so that anyone who would like to participate will get five minutes to show off their favourite online tool, application or website that makes science online fun. To complement the celebrations, we’re hosting a series of guest posts on Soapbox Science where a range of scientists share details about what’s in their online science toolkits. Why not let us know how they compare to the tools that you use in the comment threads?
Anthony Salvagno is a biophysics PhD student at the University of New Mexico and a graphic designer for IheartAnthony. His research is the perfect mixture of design and science and he publishes his findings in real-time in his open notebook. He is an open science advocate and educator.
figshare and Open Notebook Science – the perfect marriage
I am an open notebook scientist, which simply means that I share all of my research online in an open format in real-time. I share everything about my research that I can including: ideas, project plans, methods and protocols, raw data, interpreted data, and conclusions. I publish my notebook using WordPress and use a slew of online tools to handle whatever WordPress cannot. figshare is one of those tools.
figshare is an open access data repository designed to publish data that normally would never see the light of day. A lot of work goes into a research project and a lot of data is collected. Unfortunately most of that data doesn’t make it to publication. On top of that many researchers have small side projects that may never get published nor will the data that is acquired from those projects. And that doesn’t include failed experiments.
figshare allows researchers to change all of that. By providing a platform that can handle multiple file types and allowing scientists to publish those file types, scientists can now get credit for all of their research. Once your data is uploaded and published you receive a handle that allows you to cite your work in publications or on the web and you can then track your “impact” on the scientific community.
I host my data on figshare, although I don’t do it for the perceived impact (although that is a nice benefit). I do it to add to the already vast library of human knowledge. As an open scientist, I realize that tools like Google, Youtube, and Facebook (just to name a few) have allowed for such exponential development over the past 10+ years that it would be silly to not contribute scientifically via the same methods. figshare is indexed by search engines and allows for social network sharing, which means that people all over the world has access to my data and will continue to do so long after I’m gone.
figshare allows me to link information from my notebook to my published datasets. With each published dataset I typically include links to: an experiment background, the experimental setup, notes about the raw data (on days the data was taken), and follow-up thoughts. This allows both my notebook and my figshare data to contain complete records of the information contained.
I study water isotope effects on living organisms. My first sets of data for these experiments are trying to repeat data from 1960 taken by Crumley et al (link to figshare/notebook). I have data that both agrees and disagrees with their findings and that is all shared on figshare. I have shared the original raw data, which is in the form of pictures of tobacco seed growth (see image below), along with some charts and spreadsheets (via Google Docs) of seed germination over time. One of the experiments was a complete failure because of non-ideal lab conditions. That data is uploaded to figshare as well. In the spirit of open notebook science, I keep a complete record of my research, and to not do the same on figshare would be a breach of my own personal ethics.
Pictures of tobacco seed growth in 99.9% deuterium depleted water hosted on figshare
I’m also teaching a Physics electronic lab. In this course I’ve setup an open notebook community for the students and have encouraged them to keep detailed accounts of the labs and how they accomplished the goals of each lab. There have been a few experiments that require data acquisition and for these experiments the students used figshare to host the data, which they linked to via their notebooks (as well as hosting any code they create on GitHub). Their final project for the class is to develop something using Arduino, and part of the project is to test their device and share the data from the tests via figshare. Ultimately they will create an Instructables manual and link to the figshare data from their post, which will allow other users to see how reliable their device is.
To me it is clear that open access to research is the future of scientific discovery. figshare is the gateway tool to this end and I continue to use and promote its use to all who come across my path. Who knows what may be discovered in 20 years? New discoveries are being made, not just by performing experiments in a lab, but by searching for and linking datasets that already exist. By contributing my research to the web I hope to make the same kind of impact even long after I’m gone, and figshare is how I hope my impact remains.
You can follow the online conversation on Twitter with the #ToolTales hashtag and you can read Mary Mangan’s Tool Tale here, Dr Peter Etchells’s Tool Tale here, Alan Cann’s here, Jerry Sheehan’s here, Boris Adryan’s here, Daniel Burgarth and Matt Leifer’s here, Zen Faulkes’s here, Jenn Cable’s here , Mike Biocchi’s here, Susanna Speier’s here, Derek Hennen’s here, Musa Akbari’s here, Benedict Noel’s here, Chris Surridge’s here and Gerd Moe-Behrens’s here.