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Top Tips for People Representing myExperiment

1. Presentations

These are all on in reverse chronological order. We are very happy for these to be reused with due attribution. Please send us the final copy of your presentation to put on this page.

There is a protypical PowerPoint 2007 slideset (the design of DDeR's presentations) on (or .ppt for powerPoint 97-2003 compatibility) - it contains logos, fonts etc. (Last updated October 2010.)

In talks about myExperiment it is customary to include the contacts and acknowledgements slides and also references where appropriate (even if there is not time to present them, they should be in the downloadable slide deck). In all talks which feature myExperiment please at least include a pointer to the site and use the myExperiment logo.

When we present we update the slide showing the usage of myexperiment - the string comes from the "Home" tab and for example currently reads myExperiment currently has 4127 members, 235 groups, 1325 workflows, 349 files and 138 packs

Ravi Madduri produced this PowerPoint 2007 template for myExperiment presentations.

There are two professionally produced videos available on

And finally, don't go without a supply of myExperiment stickers!

2. History and partners

myExperiment was Carole's idea. The key early reference in the scientific press is the October 2006 item in New Scientist on

The joint project between Manchester and Southampton began in March 2007 and was funded by JISC (a UK agency which funds resources to support research across all universities and all disciplines) and we launched the public beta in November 2007.

We have also received financial support from Microsoft and from two EPSRC "platform grants": myGrid (which is also Manchester and Southampton) and e-Research South (a regional consortium led by Oxford and including Southampton). There is also project-specific code on the site from other funders, notably the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.

David De Roure remains Director of the project after his move to Oxford e-Research Centre in July 2010.

The partners' logos are available in the logo store slide in the prototypical presentation and at hi res on

3. Describing the Elephant

How we present myExperiment depends who we are talking to, like the blind monks and the elephant. For example:

  • Open Repositories. Our core funding is aligned to this community. We are distinctive for focusing on sharing methods as well as data. As part of our current funding we are integrating with other repositories, currently with EPrints which comes from Southampton DDeR is presenting myExperiment and Linked Data at Open Repositories 2010.
  • e-Science / e-Research. We are a "virtual research environment" (UK jargon) or a "gateway" (US jargon). We appear in the e-Science literature in IEEE e-Science 2008 and forthcoming CCPE paper based on the Microsoft e-Science workshop 2008. See
  • Science 2.0 / Open Science. myExperiment is built according to web 2.0 principles. We do not mandate that everything must be open at all stages (in contrast to our colleagues at OpenWetWare, but we facilitate open publication and reuse. We support privacy, licences, credit, attribution.
  • Semantic Web / Linked data. We run which parallels the main site, publishes RDF and provides a SPARQL endpoint. This is run by David Newman in Southampton. The modularised ontology is described in the ISWC 2009 Scientific Discourse workshop paper The test version of the main site is Linked Data compliant. We are also discussing future use of SKOS.
  • Digital libraries / scholarly communication. We propose Research Objects (an evolution of myExperiment packs) which will one day be the shared digital artefact instead of the PDF of a paper. See Sean's FWCS paper
  • Developers. myExperiment is an open source (BSD) Ruby on Rails application with a RESTful API. There are many other interfaces to myExperiment including Google Gadgets and the Taverna plugins.
  • Social Scientists. myExperiment is a co-evolved web site, and the myExperiment management model is also a subject of study - see It is also interesting from the point of view of primacy of method - see There has been an ongoing discussion about the relationship with the Invisible College and with Boundary Objects but we've not had a chance to write these up yet.

If anyone is engaged with another part of the elephant, please add it here!

4. Why we are successful

We have genuinely user-centric design principles and have worked closely with our "friends and family" and PALs. The principles are documented in the IEEE Software paper Software Design for Empowering Scientists and are:

  1. Fit in, don’t Force Change
  2. Jam Today and more Jam Tomorrow
  3. Just in Time and Just Enough
  4. Act Local, think Global
  5. Enable Users to Add Value
  6. Design for Network Effects

We achieve the user engagement through six further principles:

  1. Keep your Friends Close
  2. Embed
  3. Keep Sight of the Bigger Picture
  4. Favours will be in your Favour
  5. Know your Users
  6. Expect and Anticipate Change

These principles were based on reflection over both Taverna 1 and myExperiment.

5. If we had our time again...

We would have introduced prompts for structured metadata and used classifications much earlier in project. This would help discovery and reuse. We have subsequently achieved this in Sysmo and Biocatalogue which have well defined domains. We are addressing this in myExperiment but now have a problem with legacy content.

Because we focused on deposit rather than metadata, the other interfaces don't capture metadata well. The time of capture (point of upload, point of use, ...) is also significant.

Similarly, packs describe the relationship between each component and the pack but not between each element and themselves. This will be fixed too!

Carole's Group09 and BioOT talks discuss the problems. They are

Also see Yuwei's user study reports:

6. What next?

The headline plans for the core site are on and include:

  • Curation - further assistance (summer 2010)
  • Notifications and new "Home" page carrying latest news under multiple categories (summer 2010)
  • Linked data support (under test now)
  • New contributable types including Meandre support (under test now)
  • Initial repository integration (EPrints ready for test)
  • Initial Biocatalogue integration (Don and Jits have commenced work)
  • Controlled vocabularies (summer 2010, linked with sysmo)
  • Advanced search (summer 2010)
  • Relationships between items in and between packs (autumn 2010)
  • Indexing of packs
  • Further blog / wiki integration

We will also support execution of Taverna 2 workflows when the server is available, and SCUFL2 when this is available.

7. Other projects with myExperiment genes

Sysmo is based on the myExperiment codebase and Carole has provided these links:

methodBox from the Obesity e-Lab project (e-Social Science node) - led by Prof Iain Buchan in Manchester

Biocatalogue is written based on the myExperiment experience and is being integrated with myExperiment

myExperiment is used in the e-Stat project (e-Social Science quantitative node) - led by Prof Bill Browne in Bristol

myExperiment is used in the NEMA (Network Environment for Music Analysis project) - led by Stephen Downie at UIUC


Please add others!

8. Some specific FAQ

  • Democratisation is evil because science is elite / "You're letting the oiks in" / indiscriminate sharing is A Bad Thing

You can build muggle-free zones. But we do quite like muggles and are proud of being muggle-friendly. We see myExperiment as an "intellectual access ramp".

  • Is myExperiment anything to do with OMII-UK?

The Manchester and Southampton partners are the same, myExperiment interworks with OMII-UK products (such as Taverna), and our OMII PALs are important myExperiment PALs too. But myExperiment has not had any support or funding from OMII-UK. Note that OMII-UK is about to be superseded by the SSI (The UK Software Sustainability Institute), see

  • How can we be sure myExperiment will continue to be supported?

The e-Research South funding continues until May 2013 and the myGrid platform funding continues until January 2014. We are developing proposals for further funding.

  • I thought myExperiment was only for Taverna and Bioinformaticians

A very important user community but we must challenge this assumption and dispel the myth (except when we're talking to Taverna users and bioinformaticians! :)

  • Can I share my favourite foo thing on myExperiment?

Probably. And it's increasingly easy to provide support for new contributable types. Look at the wiki or talk to us.

  • Does it support Kepler or Pipeline Pilot?

Are you a Kepler or pipeline pilot user? If so please work with us to support those systems.

See also FAQ(will fold the above in)