What is it about?
Building and sharing one’s own research equipment has become easier because of the spread of tools such as 3D printing. Researchers are increasingly publishing equipment designs openly with the hope that their research can be replicated globally. However, there is little evidence for the effectiveness of different design approaches. This study provides evidence that open technologies indeed help access tools in low-resource environments and dissects the best design approaches for equipment to achieve this accessibility goal.
Photo by Lars Kienle on Unsplash
Why is it important?
If open hardware follows in the footsteps of open software, it will radically change how research equipment is developed, produced, priced, and accessed – likely towards a more democratic, distributed, and appropriately priced model. However, as this emerging trend is developing, researchers and funders alike wonder if this ideal can be reached and what design criteria should be considered in developing research instrumentation for global accessibility. This study provides systematic evidence that open tools increase accessibility to research instrumentation and therefore justifies an increased focus on their development. This study also advances the discussion on design criteria by classifying different instrumentation design approaches and putting them into the context of researchers in low-resource environments. Classifying designs by accessibility clarifies that not all approaches that are currently popular are likely to lead to global accessibility. Criteria for improving the technological impact of open designs are proposed.
Read the Original
This page is a summary of: Open hardware: From DIY trend to global transformation in access to laboratory equipment, PLoS Biology, January 2023, PLOS, DOI: 10.1371/journal.pbio.3001931.
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Project Latin American Hub for Bioimaging Through Open Hardware (LIBRE hub)
LIBRE hub is a training network for open source bioimaging hardware in Latin America with the goal to empower regional researchers through practical workshops, seminars, networking, and online resources adapted to local needs and re-published in local languages.
Global Open Science Hardware Forum
The GOSH (Gathering for Open Science Hardware) Community Forum is an online platform for individuals interested in open science hardware. It serves as a central hub for sharing knowledge, resources, and project updates. Members discuss a wide range of topics, from open hardware design and fabrication to funding and policy. The forum fosters collaboration, encourages the exchange of ideas, and provides support to researchers, developers, and enthusiasts in their pursuit of open science hardware development and adoption.
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