USEDiT: Universal Scientific Equipment Discovery Tool

The reproducibility of research results is one of the key tenets of scientific discovery. These results are often generated using equipment located in a scientific research laboratory. Thus, it would stand to reason that sufficient, detailed, and transparent reporting of equipment is key to allowing researchers to assess the validity of previous findings. However, the scientific community currently lacks a structured citation style or method for tracking what types of scientific lab equipment are being utilized to conduct research on grant funded projects or peer reviewed publications.  In turn, this makes it difficult for researchers to reproduce the results of other researchers and thus, contributes to the reproducibility crisis the scientific community is facing. To combat this problem, a team of librarians and scientific researchers at Florida State University and the University of California-San Diego are developing a tool that will provide a structured citation style for scientific lab equipment. The name of this tool is the Universal Scientific Equipment Discovery Tool (USEDiT).

pic2Within USEDiT, each piece of equipment is assigned a unique, persistent  universal identifier, which can then used by researchers to cite equipment in peer-reviewed publications and research grant applications. The identifiers then link out to a standardized set of information for each piece of equipment, allowing researchers to discover new relationships between equipment and research and increasing the potential for collaboration. Properly citing equipment also allows for the productivity of that equipment to be quantified, leading to a more efficient allocation of grant funding and resources.   

Current efforts are focused developing the underlying taxonomy and ontology for USEDiT, using scientific equipment from research labs at FSU as a “mini-pilot” for the project. An example of the current, working taxonomy for USEDiT is shown below.

Pic1Second, we are currently in discussions with equipment manufacturers and scientific professional societies to gauge their interest in the project and obtain feedback as we develop the tool further.

The development of USEDiT is being overseen by a multidisciplinary team of librarians and scientific researchers at Florida State University. Spearheading the effort is Dr. Claudius Mundoma, Director of the Physical Biochemistry Facility at the FSU Institute of Molecular Biophysics, and Mike Meth, Associate Dean for Research and Learning Services. Other team members from FSU Libraries include Dr. Nick Ruhs, Annie Glerum, Mark Lopez, and David Rodriguez. The team is also collaborating with Anita Bandrowski from the University of California-San Diego, who is the CEO and co-founder of SciCrunch. 

More information about USEDiT can be found on the project website:http://myweb.fsu.edu/aglerum/usedit.html. The USEDiT logo was designed by FSU Graduate, Matt Taylor, CDAorlando.com.

Any questions about the project can be directed to Dr. Nick Ruhs, STEM Research and Learning Librarian, at nruhs@fsu.edu.

Written By: Dr. Nick Ruhs

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