Open notebook science as an emerging epistemic culture within the Open Science movement

Authors : Anne Clinio, Sarita Albagli

The paper addresses the concepts and practices of “open notebook science” (Bradley, 2006) as an innovation within the contemporary Open Science movement. Our research points out that open notebook science is not an incremental improvement, but it is a new “literary technology” (Shapin, Shaffer, 1985) and main element of a complex open collaboration ecosystem that fosters a new epistemic culture (Knorr-Cetina, 1999).

This innovation aimed to move from a “science based on trust” to a science based on transparency and data provenance – a shift that recognizes the ability of scientists in performing experiments, but mostly, values their capacity of documenting properly what they say they have done. The theoretical framework was built with the notion of epistemic culture (Knorr-Cetina, 1999) and the “three technologies” perspective used by Shapin and Shaffer (1985) to describe the construction by natural philosophers of “matter of fact” as “variety of knowledge” so powerful that became synonymous of science itself.

Empirically, we entered the “open lab” through a netnography that led us to understand that the epistemic culture being engendered by its practitioners is based on a “matter of proof”.