User:OpenScientist/ESOF 2012/Science as it happens

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A wiki version of Rembrandt's The Anatomy Lesson of Dr. Nicolaes Tulp by Alasdair Forrest. In the proposed session, we would provide visitors with a guided tour to interact with scientists who use wikis and blogs to communicate their research as they proceed with it. Unguided tours are possible every day by simply taking a look at open research notebooks.


This page hosts a proposal for a public engagement project at the Euroscience Open Forum 2012 that will take place in Dublin from 11-15 July, 2012. It was submitted on 30 June, 2011 and rejected in November. Call.

Labwatching - Let's join researchers as they plan or perform their experiments, analyze the results, or comment on each other's work.


Labwatch: Science as it happens


By default, scientific research takes place behind closed doors, which typically open just for about one day a year on occasions like ESOF. Yet out of the ocean of secrecy, an increasing number of islands of openness is beginning to emerge. These allow any interested party to experience science as a process, rather than as a chain of "scientists found out" statements in the news. The aim of this activity is to take visitors on a guided tour through ongoing open research by watching scientists as they deposit ideas, protocols, code, data, analyses and publications on the web, or comment on the activities of others. They will also be able to interact with the process of scientific discovery via citizen science projects and open publications on which all can comment.

Target audience[edit]

Anyone, especially those with an interest in science. (General Public)

Aims and Objectives[edit]

Aim: To engage people with the process of scientific discovery by not only demonstrating what scientists themselves do, but how the public can get involved at every step of the process, from crowd sourced citizen science to making use of scientific publications.

Objectives: To illustrate the scientific research cycle from idea to publication via colourful and informative posters. To allow people to watch the scientific process in real time via computers connected to labs operating open lab notebooks, data repositories and open access journals which allow comments on articles. To encourage people to contribute to citizen science projects such as Galaxy Zoo and the Open Dinosaur Project, and earn points for Team ESOF2012 via computers with internet access. To illustrate these contributions to science and encourage further participation from visitors by tracking them visually via a large counter or bar graph e.g. number of galaxies classified, comments on research posted. To emphasise the importance of open science in allowing this level of transparency to see science 'as it happens' and the value of this to the public (who are often the funders of science). To explore Open Data in Science by providing the general public the right tools, methods and shared values to critically assess science in-the-making. To facilitate communication between experts and lay communities, creating contexts for people to find solutions together.

When will the event take place?[edit]

Three days during the main week of ESOF 2012, each time for four hours in a row. This could be extended if local support were available.

Where will the event take place?[edit]

As part of the ESOF2012 venue exhibition or Science in the City (no specific venue required, as stand is portable as long as tables, power source and internet are available)

How many people are expected to attend the event?[edit]

This depends on the frequency of people passing by the location, but around 50 per hour having a look would seem reasonable, with about 20 engaging in at least some of our activities.

Is this a new event?[edit]


What format will the event take?[edit]

Interactive Dialogue; Exhibition; Outdoor Event

Which of the City of Science 2012 themes best describe the event?[edit]

Science & Culture; Information; Science Education

Will this be a recurring event?[edit]


If "Yes", how is it envisaged that the event will develop over time?[edit]

If the event is successful and public feedback is positive, this event could be taken to a wider audience at further science events for the public e.g. international and national science festivals. This would be facilitated by the fact that the organisers are part of an international, non-profit organisation (the Open Knowledge Foundation) through which the event model, organisation and feedback could be disseminated. The event could be used as a case study for developing future interactions between the public and the scientific process, and could be developed into a permanent online exhibition with which people can explore these themes at their leisure.

What evaluation method(s) will be used for measuring the success of the event?[edit]

We will record an estimated number of vistors and create a simple feedback form for completion by those who spend time interacting with it. We will log contributions by the ESOF2012 team to the citizen science projects provided via the computers. We will use Open Knowledge Foundation social media (blogs, Twitter, email lists) to announce the project and give updates. We will follow up with evaluation of comments and responses.

How much will the event cost to run?[edit]

Ca. EUR 200.

Please provide a financial breakdown of the major cost items for the event.[edit]

  • Building or renting the stand
  • Poster printing (x4)
  • Internet access for the computers at the stand

Technical requirements[edit]

Facilities to place at least two posters (preferably four) that may be used to gain the attention of potential visitors. The central figure of the poster will be the research cycle, which highlights some of the basic stages that a research project has to pass on its way to completion. Four computers reliably connected to the internet will each be highlighting two steps of the research cycle: Idea/ Develop; Fund/ Plan; Record/ Process; Publish/ Read.

Two more computers will be used for providing visitors with an opportunity to play science games.

See also[edit]