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The Virtual Science Laboratory presented at Transformations 2017 in Dundee, Scotland (Aug 29-Sept 1)

Practice session 1.7 - Virtual science laboratories – a way to facilitate transition towards open, collaborative and global research? (Abstract: http://www.transformations2017.org/programme-2/ps-day1) attracted a number of researchers including university students and staff in both social and natural sciences. After the laboratory was presented, group work allowed participants to design experiments within their own fields where the VSL would provide added benefits. World café discussions explored: drivers/incentives that would be needed to encourage researchers to use the VSL to support open science, how the VSL could be further developed to be useful in different areas of science, including social science, which types of studies are especially suited to using the VSL and how the VSL could support increased transparency, repeatability, cooperation or other aspects.

Participants suggested that not all research in social science follows an experimental logic as processes can be of an explorative or evaluative, qualitative character that does not follow the logic of the proposed “experimental protocol” and how different contexts can dictate how studies are undertaken at different sites. However the protocol tool would be useful in other processes and they discussed how qualitative data could be uploaded to an open database and how to provide clarity around data collection and data quality. The VSL could also be expanded to include a discussion forum/interface where researchers could communicate and collaborate around project ideas and also a simple interface that allows the viewing of protocols of ongling projects by institutions or citizens. It was also suggested to cooperate with established and experienced platforms on the internet and research networks e.g. ResearchGate to make the tool more widely known.