Octopus: full user-testing

Jun 25, 2020 by Alex Freeman

I’m so sorry that I haven’t been updating this blog! Octopus has, as you may have noticed, grown in functionality and beauty with a lot of work from technical achitect Vot and the software company WinGravity.

The coronavirus pandemic hit just as we were sending out links to the prototype for people to test, which was difficult timing. On the other hand, the pandemic has really brought sharply into focus the need for reform of the scientific publishing system. I have wanted to shout ‘Octopus is here for these very reasons!’ very loudly from the rooftops, but have also been extremely busy in my day-job helping respond to the pandemic.

Coverage of Octopus has been bringing in interest, though.

Dr Andy Vonasch, a lecturer in psychology at the University of Canterbury in New Zealand ran a workshop at the Society for the Improvement of Psychological Science in June using Octopus, and garnered a huge amount of wonderfully useful feedback from participants who tried the system out.

Additionally, I wrote blogs for:

Wonkhe on how the scientific publishing system fails to help science because of the incentive structure it creates.

Royal Society of Biology on how the COVID-19 crisis highlights the need for Octopus.

And I gave a talk to: The RIOTS Club at KCL which was recorded, and has me giving a little tour of Octopus.

An interview about Octopus was published in Research Information and on the JISC website, which brought in a lot of emails from all over the world!

We are collecting user feedback on the prototype via this link - or you can submit feedback via the ‘feedback’ link in the footer of the demo website. Or you can email me. We’d love to have as much user-input as possible. [email protected]

The world needs Octopus right now, and the impetus for change is growing. Pre-prints are becoming much more influential and yet the world is acutely aware of the problems they bring.

There are more features to add to Octopus, of course, but I think as a demonstration of its functionality and design, the current site is pretty good. Next step is to seed its database with existing ‘Problems’ extracted from the Open Access literature to give it some initial momentum, before properly launching it upon the world (probably, now, with a COVID focus at first). Hopefully we can do this over the coming months. Do get in touch if you have help or ideas - or just to let us know what you think!