The US Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) ruled last year that all federally funded research articles and data should be open access, but laboratory notebooks were not included (see go.nature.com/fijt2f). I urge researchers to sign a petition (see http://wh.gov/l5gv0) to extend this mandate to cover a searchable online repository of key lab notebooks, such as those used in formulating US patent applications.
The legal value of lab notebooks is complicated, which may be one reason for their omission from the OSTP mandate. However, freely accessible notebooks are useful as evidence in patent litigation and can help to resolve irreproducibility issues that might otherwise have economic and medical implications for products and processes. They also act as an archive of raw data for the scientific and medical record.
As an agency that is fully funded by user fees and one that aims to validate patent findings, perhaps the US Patent and Trademark Office would consider financing the initial purchase of server space and set-up costs for a notebook repository.
About this article
Cite this article
Bohle, S. Online repository for lab notebooks. Nature 506, 159 (2014). https://doi.org/10.1038/506159e