Jean-Claude Bradley: Hero of Open Notebook Science; it must become the central way of doing science

It is with great sadness that we report the death of Jean-Claude Bradley who invented the concept of “Open NoteBook Science”.  ( ).
[Blue Obelisk presented to J-C (left) by Egon Willighagen (right), 2007. Photo Credit CC BY Christoph Steinbeck]
I learnt of this last Wednesday, while preparing a keynote talk on “Open Data” at the European Bioinformatics Institute at Hinxton.  I dropped half of what I was intending to present , to provide a fitting tribute to J-C. On the Blue Obelisk mailing list I wrote:

Jean-Claude was years ahead of his time. He did what he considered right, not what was expedient or what the world expected.
He and I discussed Open Data and Open Notebook Science. We found that they were different things and that each was a critically important subject. J-C set up a webpage on Wikipedia to describe ONS and its practice.
ONS is truly innovative. The research must be available to everyone – regardless of who they are are or what they had studied. And it must be fair – “no insider knowledge”.
Several groups in chemistry are following J-C’s lead – and we honour him in that.
I have been invited to present a keynote on “Open Data” at Hinxton Genome Campus tomorrow and shall make J-C’s work the focus and inspiration.
I am truly glad we awarded him a Blue Obelisk. As a community we should think how to take the message further.

I stayed up late into the night finding material to include. J-C has left a clear legacy and it has been possible to find clear, simple, precise indications of his thinking . See slides 4-20 in There is an excellent video interview last year (links at end of my presentation).
As I found more material I suddenly got the revelation:
“This is the only proper way to do science in the Century of the Digital Enlightenment”
I perhaps knew this theoretically, but now it hit me emotionally.  Jean-Claude’s vision was absolute, simple, and feasible. In fact ONS is a simpler way of doing science than we have at present. It’s vastly better and immediately provides a total record of what everyone has done. It’s literally edited by the minute. Everyone gets fair credit for what they have done, there is massive loss of wasted effort, no opportunity for fraud.
ONS also solves the “Open Data” and “Open Access” at a stroke. It is impossible not to publish Open data, impossible for publishers to try to steal it from the public. Open Access becomes virtually irrelevant – it’s an integral part of the system.
I’ll have a lot more to write. In preparing my talk I asked Mat Todd, Univ of Sydney, to comment. Mat has been another pioneer in OpenNotebookScience, using chemistry not for conventional academic glory (though he has that from many) but to cure human disease, particularly Neglected Tropical Diseases. Mat wrote:

JC was a pioneer in open science, and uncompromising about its importance. We had so many productive interactions over the years, starting from the end of January 2006, when we started our open chemistry project on The Synaptic Leap (JC was the first to comment!) and JC posted his very first experiment online at Usefulchem. I remember starting to think about how to do completely open projects, looking around the web in 2005 to see if anything open was going on in chemistry, and coming across JC’s lone voice, and I thought “Wow, who isthis guy?” He had dedication and integrity – we’ll all miss him.


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3 Responses to Jean-Claude Bradley: Hero of Open Notebook Science; it must become the central way of doing science

  1. Christina Cianci says:

    He was a pioneer, a kind soul and wonderful person. May he rest in peace.

  2. Pingback: Science in the Open » Blog Archive » Remembering Jean-Claude Bradley

  3. Pingback: A Tribute to Jean-Claude Bradley, Chemist, Open Science Proponent, A True Gentleman | Library

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