The Open Source Toolkit features articles and online projects describing hardware and software that can be used in a research and/or science education setting across different fields, from basic to applied research. The channel editors aim to showcase how open source tools can lead to innovation, democratisation and increased reproducibility. The Open Source movement revolutionized the way computer systems were developed and how companies made their businesses. Its philosophy requires that all source code should be freely shared, so that as many people as possible can use, change, learn, and improve upon it. This movement made its way into academia and several open source packages are available for scientists. In recent years, the increasing availability and low cost of electronic components, processors and 3D printers meant that an open model of development has taken root also in the world of hardware, including the development of scientific lab equipment. The implications for research can hardly be overstated: “Open Labware” designs are almost always cheaper than “closed source” ones, allow for distributed development and, critically, customization by the end user, the lab scientist.
PLOS was founded in 2001 as a nonprofit Open Access publisher, innovator and advocacy organization with a mission to accelerate progress in science and medicine by leading a transformation in research communication.