Jean-Claude Bradley (notebook)
Gus Rosania (notebook)
A public laboratory notebook makes it convenient to cite the exact instances of experiments used to support arguments in articles. For example, in a paper on the optimization of a Ugi reaction, three different batches of product are used in the characterization and each spectrum references the specific experiment where each batch was used: EXP099, EXP203 and EXP206.
Without further qualifications, Open Notebook Science implies that the research is being reported on an ongoing basis without unreasonable delay or filter. This enables others to understand exactly how research actually happens within a field or a specific research group. Such information could be of value to collaborators, prospective students or future employers. Providing access to selective notebook pages or inserting an embargo period would be inconsistent with the meaning of the term "Open" in this context. Unless error corrections, failed experiments and ambiguous results are reported, it will not be possible for an outside observer to understand exactly how science is being done. Terms such as Pseudo or Partial have been used as qualifiers for the sharing of laboratory notebook information in a selective way or with a significant delay.
The second argument advanced against Open Notebook Science is that it constitutes prior publication, thus making it impossible to patent or publish the results in the traditional peer reviewed literature. With respect to patents, publication on the web is clearly classified as disclosure. Therefore, while there may be arguments over the value of patents, and approaches that get around this problem, it is clear that Open Notebook Science is not appropriate for research for which patent protection is an expected and desired outcome. With respect to publication in the peer reviewed literature the case is less clear cut. Most publishers of scientific journals accept material that has previously been presented at a conference or in the form of a preprint. Those publishers that accept material that has been previously published in these forms have generally indicated informally that web publication of data, including Open Notebook Science, falls into this category. However this has not been tested with a wide range of publishers. It is to be expected that those publishers that explicitly exclude these forms of pre-publication will not accept material previously disclosed in an open notebook.
The final argument relates to the problem of the 'data deluge'. If the current volume of the peer reviewed literature is too large for any one person to manage, then how can anyone be expected to cope with the huge quantity of non peer reviewed material, of which some, perhaps most, will inevitably be of poor quality, that could potentially be available. A related argument is that 'my notebook is too specific' for it to be of interest to anyone else. The question of how to discover high quality and relevant material is a related issue. The issue of curation and validating data and methodological quality is a serious issue and one that arguably has relevance beyond Open Notebook Science but is a particular challenge here. ....