This post concerns documentation practices and an initiative I’m involved in to produce Documentation Guidelines for Open Science Hardware contexts.
Please fill out this survey on documentation practices. It is important (read below if you want to know why) and will help us create documentation guidelines for open science hardware.
At the last global GOSH event in Shenzhen, we acknowledged the need for good documentation practices when creating open source hardware. Following this, a few of us ( @Tobey Anna Lowe and I ) got together for a session to try to map out the different environments and contexts of people who build (or attempt to build) open science hardware - e.g. region, availability of tools, level of expertise, internet connection speeds - and their different needs.
It quickly became apparent that the contexts, environments and builder profiles (e.g. citizen scientists, academic researchers, hackers, community groups) were so vastly different that a single documentation standards document (e.g. a step-by-step “how to”) could not possibly cover them all. From there, we decided that instead of making one standards guide for all possible use cases, a better approach would be to provide people with the tools to make informed choices when documenting their work.
The goal of the documentation guidelines booklet is to help people make informed decisions about how to document their open science hardware projects.
Why documentation guidelines?
The guidelines will help builders better understand the people who will be building / assembling their hardware by asking the right questions for their specific context, for example, how much documentation is needed and in what format? Where do my end producer’s live? What language do they speak? How much electricity do they have access to? Do they have access to a lab? Tools? Wifi? What level of expertise do they have? Do they have access to the parts I’m using? etc.
Why a survey? Why not just create the documentation guidelines?
In order to build out the documentation guidelines, we need to first gather insights from builders / end producers of open science hardware to better understand their different needs, pain points, barriers and overall goals. Instead of making assumptions, a better approach would be to ask people directly, through a survey, and from there, create a set of guidelines that would help people make decisions with respect to documenting their open science hardware projects.
What could the guidelines potentially include?
- content on the importance of documenting one’s work
- results / visualization of the survey (to provide context)
- guidelines (asking the right questions and choosing the right approaches)
- a labeling system (to provide high-level visual information about the hardware - e.g. expertise level, internet bandwidth needed, hours to produce, etc.)
- tools to conduct design research of target end producers (e.g. empathy map template, journey map). These templates will be modified for an open source context.
Link to survey
Please share it with your networks! The goal is to get 200 respondents.