The Future is Open

August 16, 2019

This week’s post is about the current state of OpenBehavior (OB) and ongoing efforts within the open source neuroscience community. Next week, we will resume posting about new tools.

Samantha White, Linda Amarante, Lex Kravitz, and Mark Laubach published a commentary in eNeuro last week about how open-source tools are being used in neuroscience. We reported on our experiences in running OB since the summer of 2016, the many wonderful projects that we have posted about over the past three years, two surveys that we conducted on our site and open source tool use in general, and some observations on the mindset that comes from making and using open source tools. A link to our paper is https://www.eneuro.org/content/6/4/ENEURO.0223-19.2019.

The timing of our commentary and the related social media attention that is generated (e.g. https://twitter.com/samantha6rose/status/1159913815393341440) was especially nice as we have been working to expand OB to better serve the research community, and hope to find external support for the project. We would like to address an outstanding problem: it is not currently possible to systematically track the development and use of open source hardware and software in neuroscience research. To address this issue, we would like to to create a database of existing open source projects, characterize them using a newly developed “taxonomy” based on their functions (video analysis, behavioral control system, hardware for measuring or controlling behavior), and register projects using the SciCrunch RRID registry.

If you haven’t heard of SciCrunch, you should check it out: https://scicrunch.org/. Its an awesome project that tracks usage of research tools such as antibodies. RRIDs are citable and, if developed for open source hardware and software, would allow for developers to track how their tools are used in neuroscience publications. This might help provide incentives for sharing and metrics (RRIDs) on tool use and publication.

We are also planning to work with the Society for Neuroscience (SfN) to increase public awareness of neuroscience research by participating in SfN-sponsored advocacy and outreach events, facilitating discussions of open source tools through a new discussion topic in the Neuronline forums (more news on that soon), and continuing to provide curated itineraries on open source tools for attendees of the annual SfN meeting.

 

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