The Octopus build begins!

Jul 7, 2019 by Alex Freeman

It’s been a long time since I updated the blog, for which I must apologise - but so much has been happening!

Thanks to an award from Mozilla Science the build of a working version of Octopus has begun. Actually, though the first work has been done by a extraordinarily talented group of computer science students from Imperial College London who have been working hard on Octopus as part of their degree course.

Working from the interface designs made by the team at Science Practice, and with constant feedback from a broad, international group of users, the software engineers have turned this into a functional site. Users can explore publications and the links between them, log in using their ORCID, and upload publications of all types in pdf format. There is also a fantastic way of viewing all publications and their links in a network diagram.

Over the summer we will be continuing the work, increasing the number of ways that people can write publications and adding in the rating system (and, I really hope, plugging in the automatic translation). We’ll be incorporating functionality from as many other Open Science projects as we can.

In other fantastic news, Octopus has been given a donation from a private philanthropist. This unrestricted donation will allow us to move Octopus onto a professional hosting system and hire more professional help with the design and build.

Finally, I have been travelling to talk about Octopus to interested groups all over the world, including the Biomedical Transparency Summit in Paris, the Boston PostDoctoral Association at the Broad Institute in the US and the Oxford Big Data Institute and National Institute for Biological Standards and Control in the UK. This is bringing vital feedback on the design, and solutions to little niggling problems. For example, one issue has been whether people should be allowed to post reviews anonymously - because some people are concerned about being openly critical of others who might react badly. In Boston, one researcher suggested that a solution might be for ALL publications to be published without the authors’ names for the first 6 months. In this ‘golden period’ all reviews and ratings would be double-blind and could carry extra weight (and anyone who reveals their authorship would instantly lose this golden period). I quite like this idea - what does everyone else think?

If you’d like to give any feedback, or have a sneak prevew of the prototype, do email me. We’d love to have as much user-input as possible. [email protected]