Open Notebook Series: Core Features of an Open Notebook

August 20, 2012 | Posted by Anthony in Research |

This is the fourth in a series of posts by Anthony Salvagno about open notebook science.

An open notebook is supposed to enhance the workflow of the researcher. It helps to maintain a log of experiments, and provide a complete record for others to follow and verify. Ideally, an open notebook would read like a well run blog: updated regularly, easy to follow, and contain a focused theme.

Hopefully I’ve convinced you of the merits of becoming an open notebook scientist throughout this series of posts, and you are deciding what to use as your platform. If that is true, then there are some features you should keep in mind while notebooking. Features such as access, time commitment, community, and versatility are helpful, and if leveraged appropriately can provide a powerful tool for open notebook science.

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The Reproducibility Initiative

August 14, 2012 | Posted by Team in Research, Science Exchange News |

Palo Alto, California – August 14, 2012 – Science Exchange, in partnership with the open-access publisher PLOS and open data repository figshare, announced today the launch of the Reproducibility Initiative ( – a new program to help scientists, institutions and funding agencies validate their critical research findings.

“In the last year, problems in reproducing academic research have drawn a lot of public attention, particularly in the context of translating research into medical advances. Recent studies indicate that up to 70% of research from academic labs cannot be reproduced, representing an enormous waste of money and effort,” said Dr. Elizabeth Iorns, Science Exchange’s co-founder and CEO. “In my experience as a researcher, I found that the problem lay primarily in the lack of incentives and opportunities for validation—the Reproducibility Initiative directly tackles these missing pieces.”

The Reproducibility Initiative provides both a mechanism for scientists to independently replicate their findings and a reward for doing so.  Scientists who apply to have their studies replicated are matched with experimental service providers based on the expertise required.  The Initiative leverages Science Exchange’s existing marketplace for scientific services, which contains a network of over 1000 expert providers at core facilities and contract research organizations (CROs). “Core facilities and commercial scientific service providers are the solution to this problem,” said Dr. Iorns. “They are experts at specific experimental techniques, and operate outside the current academic incentive structure.”

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Re-Evaluating The Academic Post-Doc

August 9, 2012 | Posted by leah in Research |

The role of the post-doctoral scholar is facing considerable uncertainty.

The past decade has seen a significant rise in the number of PhD graduates, a rise not matched by any concomitant increase in tenured positions. This has resulted in a kind of education inflation, where the odds of a PhD graduate obtaining a STEM-related faculty position have dropped to 27:1. This is amidst a tighter funding climate, which continues to reward grants on the number of publications and citations awarded.

It has consequently become difficult for an individual post-doc to compete in such an environment. It takes much longer for post-docs to advance to the next stage of their careers, with many young scientists having to complete two or more post-doc positions to produce a competitive portfolio for funding. This has caused the average age of scientists receiving independent funding to dramatically increase in the past twenty years, which combined with the basics of supply and demand, means there are a lot of academic post-docs… going nowhere.

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Improving Transparency in Scientific Research

August 7, 2012 | Posted by Elizabeth in Research |

Academic scientists today face considerable barriers to transparency and access to research. Investigators are often pushed to publish positive results, with little support to publish null or negative results, or even the raw data upon which a publication is based. The sharing of data within or between labs is equally disincentivized, due to the competitive nature of publishing “first”, and the increasing competition for grants in a tighter funding environment.

The outcomes of such an environment in turn serve to stall the progress of scientific research, and play in contrast to some of the big science initiatives of the past decades. The Human Genome Project itself was an multi-institutional initiative with scientists participating at research institutes across the US, UK, Japan, France, Germany, and Spain. More recently, the FlowCAP Project demonstrated the power of open collaboration in science, where scientists all over the world were working on algorithms for flow cytometry analysis, combing their data to produce more robust systems of analysis.

It would seem apparent then that progress in biological research has relied, and will continue to necessitate, notions of transparency and collaboration. Leroy Hood, president of the Institute of Systems Biology notes that as biology is an informational science, it requires “holistic, high-throughput, integrative” approaches to big science developments. Transparency in scientific outcomes is necessary to provide investigators with a basis to build off earlier successes or learn from past mistakes. Collaboration through transparency provides efficiency in the development and interpretation of results, especially in a research climate of increasingly specialized expertise.

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Q&A with Barry Bunin, CEO of Collaborative Drug Discovery

August 1, 2012 | Posted by Team in Research |

The following is an interview conducted by Science Exchange with Barry Bunin, CEO of Collaborative Drug Discovery (CDD). You can find more info on CDD at:

Collaborative Drug Discovery Logo

Q: What prompted you to create CDD?

A: First we saw a need to broadly empower scientists with self-explanatory technologies for scientific data and decision management.   I especially noticed in academia there were brilliant scientists lacking the infrastructure and software tools that industry has to accelerate research and development.

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