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Open Research at Aston: Open Notebooks

What are Open Notebooks?

Open Notebooks are online records, diaries, workbooks and notes relating to your research that are made freely available for reuse and redistribution. These can be made available during a project or after your research is complete. Using open notebooks is part of the Open Research workflow and a means of sharing your research, encouraging reproducibility and sign-posting and claiming your research. 


There are multiple platforms available that can be used as Open Notebooks; from purpose-built software such as Jupyter Notebooks, to editorial products like LaTeXOverleaf and Etherpad, to the Google document sharing service GoogleDrive, or even the blogging platform WordPress 


You can browse for Open Notebooks at Open Notebook Science Network and post your own!


Overleaf is a LaTeX environment which allows users to collaborate on a master document with colleagues in real time. Users can use one of the many existing templates or create their own. Documents can then be edited on or off-line and easily shared by private invitation or shareable link. In addition to text, Overleaf also supports images and equations, and any document changes are logged (with the option to revert back to a previous version).


Individuals can use Overleaf for free, though there is a cost associated with a collaborative subscription which is based on the number of collaborators.


Jupyter Notebooks

Juptyer Notebook is an open-source web-based application with multiple uses. Documents can be edited collaboratively and shared, with the ability to perform jobs such as cleaning and transforming data, simulations and modeling, visualisations and interactive outputs as well as many other tasks. Project Jupyter supports more than 40 programming languages with its open source software, which allows further customisation and integration with big data. 

User can easily share their notebook with others via email, Dropbox, GitHub, or manage users through authentication and targeted deployment using the JupyterHub




Binder is an open-source tool to make a collection or repository of notebooks into one live, interactive and version-controlled environment called a BinderHub. User can access your content via a link to easily reproduce the code in your Binder. Further information on getting started with Binder and how people are using Binders can be found in their documentation


For an example of Binders in action, check out the work of The Turing Way!



Etherpad is an open-source online editor that lets multiple users work on documents at the same time. Each author is represented by a different text colour and data can be imported and exported via multiple data exchange formats. There are also many plugins available which can be used to further customise your experience. 


Further information on installing Etherpad is available on their website!


Additional Resources

For further information about using Open Notebooks, there are free online tutorials provided by SciFund Challenge and OpenAIRE/FOSTER Open Science


Jisc have also run a series of workshops on their open notebooks project (as part of their Research Data Shared Service), the summary of which can be found on their blog here