OpenWetWare (http://openwetware.org) is an effort to promote the sharing of information, know-how, and wisdom among researchers and groups who are working in biology & biological engineering. OpenWetWare provides a place for labs, individuals, and groups to organize their own information and collaborate with others easily and efficiently. In the process, we hope that OpenWetWare will not only lead to greater collaboration between member groups, but also provide a useful information portal to our colleagues, and ultimately the rest of the world.
We are soliciting monetary and in-kind donations from individuals and businesses to support OpenWetWare. These funds are critical to OpenWetWare’s continuing success. Donations will be applied toward OpenWetWare operating expenses including but not limited to:
- Hardware needs.
- Software development to support community needs and functions.
- Community development activities such as help sessions, documentation, and content organizing.
- Administrative costs such as Steering Committee support.
In donating to OpenWetWare, you will:
- foster a community dedicated to the open sharing of information in biology and biological engineering.
- contribute to the growth of an invaluable online information resource including educational materials, research protocols and documentation of ongoing research.
- be acknowledged on the site (http://openwetware.org/wiki/OpenWetWare:Support) as a sponsor.
- To develop new tools and technologies to enable the digitization and dissemination of knowledge in biological research.
- To foster a community dedicated to the open sharing of information among researchers.
- To incentivize the free sharing of information in scientific publishing.
In the biological sciences, the primary mechanisms for sharing work have traditionally been reference books, journal publications and personal communications via conferences and invited talks. There is a divide between those who have access to the equipment and expertise to carry out experiments and those who do not. Such a situation contrasts with computer science which has taken advantage of and benefited tremendously from more democratic platforms for dissemination like the world wide web. OpenWetWare is an effort to decentralize and lower the barriers to information exchange among all researchers, be they professors, students or research scientists. It seeks to help forge a culture in which researchers openly share their experiences thereby reducing needless duplication of effort and improving the quality of the work. We hope that the tremendous benefits from this open and rapid sharing of work via OpenWetWare will complement and expand upon traditional scientific publishing mechanisms.
The success of OpenWetWare
Initially called Endipedia, OpenWetWare began in April 2005 as a means of sharing and archiving information among members of Drew Endy's and Tom Knight's labs at MIT. Its utility in sharing protocols and providing a forum for brainstorming ideas quickly became apparent. In June 2005, Endipedia was renamed MIT OpenWetWare in an effort to include more research labs at MIT. The hope was that the wiki would provide another mechanism for interaction with local labs. By August 2005, there was sufficient interest from individuals and groups outside MIT that the wiki was renamed OpenWetWare to encourage any researcher or lab in biological science and engineering to participate.
Now in March 2007, OpenWetWare has over 2400 users and 100 labs from around the world. Users make use of OpenWetWare to maintain a lab notebook, teach courses, host lab wiki's, share protocols, document common lab materials and strains and share usage information on equipment. OpenWetWare now receives about one million page views every month. We anticipate that OpenWetWare will continue to grow as an invaluable tool to the biological research community.
OpenWetWare in the news
OpenWetWare has received extensive coverage in the scientific press.
- News feature: WikiMedia - Nature Medicine - March 6, 2007
- The New Science of Sharing - Business Week - March 2, 2007
- Open access and open source in chemistry - Chemistry Central Journal - February 19, 2007 (reference)
- YouTube for test tubes - Nature - November 23, 2006
- Wiki and other ways to share learning online - Nature - August 16, 2006
- Online methods share insider tricks - Nature - June 7, 2006
- Wikis: Lab Partnering - Science - January 6, 2006
- BLOG and WIKI your science - Biotechnology Journal - December 27, 2005
- Science in the web age: Joint efforts - Nature - December 1, 2005