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The University of Southampton

Zooming into the data in a digital lab notebook

Published: 7 March 2014

A top academic journal is backing an initiative from Chemistry at the University of Southampton to transform the way the latest research is presented and published.

Until recently, the only way complex datasets and experimental results could be shared with fellow scientists was through written academic papers. Some diagrams of molecules and summary tables were allowed in the main body of journal articles but spectra graphs and statistical data were not.

New way of presenting rich data

Now, Chemistry Central has published research at Southampton into new drug candidates by a team led by Dr Simon Coles by submitting information in the format of an electronic lab notebook. Simon and his colleagues from collaborators in Sussex and Greenwich have created a file of images of the lab notebook data which readers can explore as part of the article.

"This is a pioneering new way of presenting rich data within a traditional journal," explains Simon. "We are opening up the lab notebooks written as the experiments are being performed, which gives far more information to fellow researchers."

The datasets are given unique digital object identifiers (DOI) available on servers at the University of Southampton library for anyone to consult as part of a service initiative with the British Library and DataCite. Southampton now has more than 600 items with DOIs, which can be cited and used as source material by other researchers; it effectively means the University is becoming a ‘publisher' of its own research outputs.

Simon will be showcasing the initiative at the British Crystallography Spring Meeting in Loughborough, ACS meeting in Dallas and IUCr in 2014.

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