Open Source, Open Access, Open Science!
Universal access to the world of science is no longer a distant dream. With the opening up of plans and blueprints for physical research equipment, freely downloadable state-of-the-art scientific analysis packages and the sprawling establishment of open access journals, today good science can definitely be done on a limited budget. For example, instead of purchasing the widely used scientific analysis software Matlab, which can easily exceed 1,000 USD for a single user licence, why not just use the free and open source Python, GNU-R, or even the dedicated open Matlab clone GNU-Octave? Similary, why buy things like electrophoresis chambers or basic light microscopes when you can just build them at home for a fraction of their cost based on freely available building instructions from the internet?
Want to learn more?
History and Philosophy of the open source movement:
- If you are looking for more information on the beginning of the open source movement, read the excellent book “The Cathedral and The Bazaar” by Eric S. Raymond.
- “The Open-Source Everything Manifesto: Transparency, Truth, and Trust” by Robert David Steele makes a provocative point on how humanity can only benefit from being more open in all spheres.
- Check out the open source hardware association page for definitions and best practices on OSH.
Repositories, information hubs, and walk-throughs:
- The page appropedia.org has a lot of interesting projects related to environmental sciences and sustainability.
- For more resources on open source/open access projects/journals related to neuroscience, check out openeuroscience.com.
- PLOS has a collection on open source hardware.
- Hackteria.org has a lot of resources for using household items and e-waste to create lab-equipment.
- Have a look at Open-labware.net, our spin-off page containing our OSH projects for science.
- The github repository https://github.com/symbiolab/bio-labware has a very nicely written description and comparison of commercial and open source alternatives of common lab equipment used in biology labs.
- CERN/Geneva, Switzerland/France (2016). Attendance and presentation at 1-week conference on Open Hardware (GOSH2016).
- Addis Abeba, Ethiopia (2015). 2-week course on 3-D printing and Electronics. Sponsored by VolkswagenStiftung.
- Durban, South Africa (2015). Conference Symposium on Open Source, Society of Neuroscientists of Africa (SONA).
- Durban, South Africa (2015). 1-week course on 3-D printing and Electroics. Sponsored by IBRO.
- Nairobi, Kenya (2014). 1-week module on the use of Open Hardware for Research using Drosophila. Part of Behavioural Neuroscience course organised by N Patel. Sponsored by IBRO and others.
- Dar es Salaam, Tanzania (2014,5). Several sessions on the use of Open Hardware for Research using Drosophila. Part of TReND’s annual Neuroscience courses. Sponsored by IBRO, ISN, COB, Cambridge in Africa and others.
- Ishaka, Bushyeni, Uganda (2011-2013). Several sessions on the use of Open Hardware for Research using Drosophila. Part of TReND’s annual Neuroscience courses. Sponsored by IBRO, COB, Cambridge in Africa and others.
Why it is important
The Open Source revolution presents a real opportunity for anyone, independent of financial backing, to partake in the production of human knowledge. Widespread adoption of these possibilities can lead to a true democratisation of science, where once more ideas, not funding, determine research success.
Why it is unique
By teaching about the benefits of sharing blueprints, resources, access, and how easy it is to build your own equipment, we hope to demonstrate that development is better reachable through collaborative, distributed science that is independent from big grants and “high-profit” driven companies.
Who we target
African researchers at the graduate or post-graduate level.
Because the information is freely accessible, everyone can adopt Open Science at their own pace! We hope to speed up adoption by showing the benefits and giving a starting tool-set to researchers. This way they can readily join this game changer movement!
Just look of the Open Source all-time success story: Linux! It already runs on the vast majority of the world’s phones (Android) and is actually by far the most widely used platform for supercomputers! Why? Not just because it’s free, but because it’s better than any commercial alternative! By going massively open, Linux could draw on the vast user community to make it what it is today – the most tested and thus most stable and efficient operating system around.