While not all of you have been fortunate enough to attend the first Beyond the PDF meeting, I will say this; it was eye opening for this scientist. To me, the most memorable statement from the meeting was when Geoffrey Bilder argued from the back of the room that we should all Eat Our Own Dog Food! What he meant was that anyone building tools should actually use them or proclaiming any broad “thou shalt-s” should himself live up to the particular proclamation.

Easier said than done, Geoffrey!

In the years since this historic meeting, these statements have been eating away at my psyche.

I lead the Resource Identification Initiative, a project to add unique identifiers to all papers that use: antibodies, model organisms, software tools or databases. Basically I am telling authors to do “my bidding” and make their papers better to search and give academic credit to developers of software tools like R or ImageJ. I am asking these authors to help others selflessly and do something different than they have done before.

When submitting a paper to Frontiers in NeuroInformatics, as a middle author at the very beginning of the RII project, I felt very reluctant to add RRIDs to the paper. Who was I to suggest such a thing? I waited for the editor to remind us to add the identifers, I waited and no question came. Before final submission, I overcame my very uncharacteristic muteness and asked my collaborators to add the RRIDs to a table where I felt they were appropriate. It turned out that my colleagues did not object and the journal editor, also didn’t say anything about including them. His journal was not yet on board, something that has been remedied since.

Why did I feel so strongly that I should not include an identifier for tools while telling others to do it?
What was I afraid of?
Change is hard!

I am really not sure now what I was so afraid of because after overcoming this initial scientific recalcitrance I simply put RRIDs in the next paper without a second thought and continued to put them in since.

So as I was drafting this blog, a colleague asked me to contribute to a table in her paper, I will be one of those middle authors (huge paper with tons of authors), but this time as with my own papers I have asked her to include the RRIDs without being afraid; it took me about 8 minutes to pull all relevant RRIDs from scicrunch.org/resources and the paper was just submitted. I do not care if the journal is participating in the initiative officially or not.

I guess that what I have learned from all of this, is that once you accept change it becomes the new normal and RRIDs are a great new normal. Thanks Geoffrey for nagging me, I am very glad to say that I have Eaten My Own Dog Food!