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  • Sara Laura Wilson

Methods for Open and Reproducible Materials Science

Updated: Jun 8, 2020

Position: Undergraduate Researcher (UROP)

February 2018 — Present


S. L. Wilson, M. Altman, R. Jaramillo, Methods for Open and Reproducible Materials Science, MIT Undergraduate Research Journal. 38, 44-50 (2019). []

View on Citrine Informatics newsletter under "New Literature Worth Reading"


Data stewardship in experimental materials science is increasingly complex and important. Progress in data science and inverse-design of materials give reason for optimism that advances can be made if appropriate data resources are made available. Data stewardship also plays a critical role in maintaining broad support for research in the face of well-publicized replication failures (in different fields) and frequently changing attitudes, norms, and sponsor requirements for open science. The present-day data management practices and attitudes in materials science are not well understood. In this article, we collect information on the practices of a selection of materials scientists at two leading universities, using a semi-structured interview instrument. An analysis of these interviews reveals that although data management is universally seen as important, data management practices vary widely. Based on this analysis, we conjecture that broad adoption of basic file-level data sharing at the time of manuscript submission would benefit the field without imposing substantial burdens on researchers. More comprehensive solutions for lifecycle open research in materials science will have to overcome substantial differences in attitudes and practices.


This project explores new ways of improving the publication, discovery, and use of experimental data in materials science with the overall goal of developing the future of open materials science. The project investigated the intersection of data management, libraries, publishing, and machine learning. As building an infrastructure for open materials science is as much a social challenge as it is a technical one, learning was done through conversations with and observations of MIT and Imperial College faculty.

This is a joint project between the Department of Materials Science and Engineering (DMSE) and MIT Libraries.

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