Wednesday, September 01, 2010

Open Notebook Science: Interview with Jean-Claude Bradley

Jean-Claude Bradley is an organic chemist at Drexel University in Philadelphia. As with most scientists, Bradley used to be very secretive. He kept his research under wraps until publication and frequently applied for patents on his work in nanotechnology and gene therapy.

However, he asked himself a difficult question 5 years ago: Was his research having the kind of impact he would like? He had to conclude that the answer was "no", and this was partly a consequence of the culture of secrecy that permeates research today.

So Bradley determined to be more open. Since his collaborators were not of the same mind, he severed his ties with them and, in 2005, he launched a web-based initiative called UsefulChem.

As the name implies, the aim of the initiative was also to work in the world of useful science and, today, Bradley makes new anti-malarial compounds. This is potentially very useful: Malaria kills millions of people each year and, since most of those people live in the developing world, large pharmaceutical companies are disinclined to devote much time to developing new treatments.

And in the interests of openness, Bradley makes the details of every experiment done in his lab freely available on the web. He doesn't limit this to just a description, but he includes all the data generated from these experiments too, even the failed experiments.

He named his new technique Open Notebook Science (ONS).

What exactly is ONS?

How does it differ from Open Access (OA)?

What does ONS mean for researchers?

What does ONS mean for publishers?

What does ONS mean for librarians?

What role do institutional repositories have to play in ONS?

Jean Claude-Bradley answers all these questions and more in an interview published in the September issue of Information Today. The interview is freely available here.