The OpenBehavior project organized a workshop on open-source tools on November 10 and 11 as an official satellite event of the annual meeting of the Society for Neuroscience. The workshop was held at American University in Washington DC, with additional support from the Center for Neuroscience and Behavior at American University. During the first day of the workshop, we welcomed 70 attendees, with whom we shared ideas and discussed the status of open science as a whole. Additionally, we had the pleasure of welcoming the developers of some of the most widely used open-source tools. The developers of these packages shared the current status of these projects, as well as plans and improvements to their tools. A highlight of the workshop was a discussion led by Sean Bradley from the NIMH Behavioral Core on how to integrate programs and devices into existing laboratory setups. Sean’s talk and others in the session on tool integration raised a lot of discussion about the challenges faced by many users in learning about, setting up, and using new devices and programs in research projects. The second day of the workshop consisted of a hands-on workshop, held at our Design & Building Lab (DaBL), where 20 trainees were taken through some of the basic principles behind the application of Arduino-based microcontrollers for data collection and how to use 3D printing methods.
An important issue that emerged through discussions at the workshop is the need for more communication between users and developers of open-source tools. The absence of a common platform for discussing how to make and use currently available tools is limiting our capacity for collaboration. Many of the projects involved in the workshop host online forums to enable communication between the developers and their users. However, a more general place to talk about open-source methods and technical aspects of neuroscience research in general is lacking. Therefore, we are launching an OpenBehavior Discord server. Attendees of the pre-SfN workshop will be invited to join the server in early January and we plan to open the server to the broader community later in 2024. Please stay tuned for news on the new server in 2024 and have a great rest of 2023!