Surveying needs for open science equipment

André Maia Chagas

Since summer 2018, André Maia Chagas, whom Makery invited last year to Open Source Body, is one of 25 Mozilla Foundation “fellows” in open science and tech policy, as well as a grantee of the FreiesWissen Open Science Fellows Program in Germany. Through these engagements, he is attempting to promote open science by building scientific tools that are both inexpensive and efficient, following the paradigm of Open Hardware.

To this end, Chagas has developed an online survey in collaboration with Prof. Tom Baden’s laboratory at the University of Sussex in the UK, where they have already built open science equipment and taught others how to do so through the Trend in Africa initiative.

Their goal is to understand what kind of tools are currently needed for scientific research, where alternative solutions in open hardware still fall short. The survey will be used to identify specifically which kinds of tools scientists would use if they could build them DIY-style at low cost. Then, of course, the goal is to build them.

The team will also use the survey results to develop a series of online tutorials on how to build accessible scientific equipment, as well as identify opportunities for distributing equipment under open/permissive licenses (where it can be used, modified, copied and improved for new use cases).

The survey is anonymous, claiming that all personal data collected remains confidential and will not be shared with third parties. Once the data collection is complete, “answers that do not allow personal identification of respondents will be openly available on GitHub”. Chagas believes that sharing this information is the best way to involve everyone and enable them to develop their tools in the interest of the general public.

The survey is here (in English, Spanish, German or Portuguese).

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