Monday, December 29, 2008

Posting our research principles on OpenWetWare

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Welcome to my research blog! If you've read any of my teaching or science blog, you may know that I made the highly questionable decision of having three separate blogs. So far, this decision is bothering me, and not a single post has fallen nicely into any of those areas. I'm still hoping this isn't a big deal or too annoying to any readers I may have.

This research blog has been the hardest one to start, because I am still wrestling with issues of open science. Being partially open is difficult (and this time consuming and distracting difficulty is a big argument in favor of being completely open). But I am still concerned about taking a full-on dive into open science. I truly feel that my main worries are the risks it presents my students and (and to a much lesser extent, my collaborators). This risk arises because the students' careers are tied strongly to the success of our lab. So, any risks to our publications, and particularly our funding directly impact the students (and of course my career). It's actually not a fear, but I think it's a consciously planned precaution. My instinct, actually is to just say "f it" and to immediately put everything into the open--my gut tells me that this would actually lead to much more and quicker research success. I think my students would mostly agree too. However, I think this may add risk to our lab's success. My students are already taking a big risk working with the new un-tenured, un-funded I'm hesitant to pile on extra risks. Thus is my justification for our open science baby steps.

Given that sort of thought process, I thought my first blog post here could be about our research lab principles (including thoughts on openness), as opposed to directly about the science we are pursuing. To do so, I posted on our public wiki an old (very old by web standards) early 2007 draft of a lab philosophy that I have had posted on our private wiki. I'm hoping it can evlove into a set of principles that more than just me try to improve on.

I always cringe when I re-read something I've written some time ago (so I guess I should group all of my blogs together into one called "Steve Koch Cringes"). This draft of our lab principles is no exception. But I'm resisting the urge to edit it now and I've just posted it as is. If nothing else, it's a good snapshot of what was going through my mind as a new, confused, but concerned professor. Now I am a rapidly aging, still confused, still concerned professor...whose having a lot of fun with all of the great students he has.

I feel like it's a waste or confusing to copy over the entire post to this blog entry. I also fee like it would be difficult to relink everything, so if you're interested, please do follow this link.

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