Call for papers on "The rise of Do-It-Yourself (DIY) Laboratories: Implication for Science, Technology, and Innovation (STI) Policy" by Technological Forecasting and Social Change journal "A major forum for those wishing to deal directly with the methodology and practice of technological forecasting and future studies as planning tools as they interrelate social, environmental and technological factors."

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From Auckland to Zagreb, Do-It-Yourself (DIY) laboratories are "popping" up in cities across the world. Organised around open-source principles, these independent community-based science research hubs, often set up by Scientists and Science Enthusiasts to learn, experiment and get involve with the world of STI advancement. These "citizen laboratories" are flourishing because they are attracting volunteers, communities, groups, and venture capitalists, making them alternative homes for talent located within and beyond the theoretical boundaries of universities keen to open up the processes of science, technology, and innovation to the public (Hecker et al., 2018; Sleator, 2016; Landrain, 2013).

In carrying out basic and often advanced experiments in private buildings often labelled as "hackspaces", DIY laboratories do not only challenge the near monopoly of traditional universities and research institutions as the fundamental locus for practicing science (Downes et al., 2013; Halfacree, 2004). They also provide context for people to meet at unconventional settings and locations such as museums (Ellis and Waterton 2005), pubs and/or coffee shops (Secord, 1996), or private homes (Meyer, 2013) to discuss and share knowledge on emerging technological trajectories and potential means to pushing scientific frontiers. Providing scientific educational outreach and putting tools into the hands of those who want to learn, DiY labs have come to represent a platform for science innovation at the grassroots level. In doing this, the new turn to DiY labs promise to demystify and democratise STI by enabling amateurs to conduct surprisingly complex experiments (Sleator, 2016; Meyer, 2013), and foster citizen science in areas such as molecular biology, recombinant DNA technologies, bioinformatics and their applications, genetic engineering and gene editing (e.g. CRISPR/Cas9) technologies.

Beyond their potentialities in challenging universities as the only place to do serious research, and the opportunity they offer in the form of an alternative model for the search and identification of opportunities for innovation (Seyfried et al., 2014), there are growing concerns and apprehensions about the operations and regulations of DIY laboratories (Ferretti , 2019; Wolinsky, 2005), their ethical implications (Fiske et al., 2019; Wrexler, 2016), and the ambivalences of their hazards in fostering responsible science (Tanenbaum, et al., 2013). DIY laboratories may also pose security threat to public health and environmental safety as they often operate free from rules and regulations that oversee the operations of the well-established firms (Gorman, 2011). Their quasi-regulated experiments conducted in rudimentary facilities including kitchens and garages, which often breach international laboratory protocols, as argued by Revill and Jefferson (2013), might accidentally or intentionally unleash devastating consequences on human life. The ownership structure of most DiY laboratories and the open source principles on which they operate, also presents, potential challenges for the management of their intellectual property and patent rights within the context of some science and technology policy regimes.

To this end, this special issue aims to extend our understanding of the opportunities and limits of DiY laboratories, and their implications for science, technology, and innovation policy. We therefore invite rigorous contributions, including conceptual and theoretical papers, state-of-the-art reviews, empirical research-quantitative and qualitative, and case studies contributions from academics and policy experts that advances research on DIY laboratories from a multidisciplinary perspective. Some indicative themes of relevance to this special issue include, but would not be limited to the following:

  • Distinctiveness of DIY laboratories vis-a-vis established research institutions and the challenge they pose to universities as the only place to do serious research.
  • The health and environmental implications of DIY laboratories on society.
  • The economic and sociocultural importance of DIY laboratories in the society.
  • The nexus between DIY laboratories and environmental sustainability.
  • The relationship between democratised innovation and DIY laboratories.
  • The role of government in advancing DIY laboratories in society.
  • The ethical and security implications of DIY laboratories in the global economy.
  • DIY innovations as a conduit to unpack below the radar research.
  • The policy implications of DIY laboratories on Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) education.
  • The politics of funding for DIY laboratories.
  • Appropriateness and inclusiveness of DIY laboratories in scientific research


Downes, J., Breeze, M., & Griffin, N. (2013) Researching DIY cultures: towards a situated ethical practice for activist-academia. Graduate Journal of Social Science 10(3): 100-124.

Ellis, R. and Waterton, C. (2005) Caught between the cartographic and the ethnographic imagination: The whereabouts of amateurs, professionals, and nature in knowing biodiversity. Environment and Planning D: Society and Space 23(5): 673-693.

Ferretti, F. (2019) Mapping do-it-yourself science. Life Sciences, Society and Policy 15(1): 1-23.

Fiske A., Del Savio L., Prainsack B., and Buyx A. (2019) Conceptual and Ethical Considerations for Citizen Science in Biomedicine. In: Heyen N., Dickel S. and Bruninghaus A. (eds) Personal Health Science. Offentliche Wissenschaft und gesellschaftlicher Wandel. Springer VS,  Wiesbaden.

Halfacree, K. (2004) I could only do wrong: Academic research and DIY culture. Radical Theory/Critical Praxis 68-78.

Hecker, S., Haklay, M., Bowser, A., Makuch, Z., Vogel, J., and Bonn, A. (2018). Innovation in open science, society and policy-setting the agenda for citizen science. Innovation in Open Science, Society and Policy; UCL Press: London, UK.

Gorman, B. (2011) Patent office as biosecurity gatekeeper: Fostering responsible science and building public trust in DIY science. Marshall Review of Intellectual Property Law 3(10): 423-449.

Landrain, T., Meyer, M., Perez, A.M. and Sussan, R. (2013) Do-it-yourself biology: Challenges and promises for an open science and technology movement. Systems and Synthetic Biology 7(3): 115-126.

Meyer, M. (2013) Domesticating and democratizing science: A geography of do-it-yourself biology. Journal of Material Culture 18(2): 117-134.

Revill, J. and Jefferson, C. (2013) Tacit knowledge and the biological weapons regime. Science and Public Policy 41(5): 597-610.

Secord, A. (1996) Artisan botany. In: Jardine, N. (eds.) Cultures of Natural History. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 378-393.

Seyfried, G., Pei, L. and Schmidt, M. (2014) European Do-it-yourself (DIY) Biology: Beyond the hope, hype and horror. Bioessays 36(6): 548-551.

Sleator, R.D. (2016) DiY biology-hacking goes viral. Science Progress 99(3): 278-281.

Tanenbaum, J., Williams, A. Desjardins, A. and Tanenbaum, K. (2013) Democratizing technology: pleasure, utility and expressiveness in DIY and maker practice. In Proceedings of the SIGCHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems (pp. 2603-2612), ACM.

Wolinsky, H. (2005) Do-it-yourself diagnosis: Despite apprehension and controversy, direct-to-consumer genetic tests are becoming more popular, EMBO Reports 6(9): 805-807.

Wexler, A. (2016) The practices of do-it-yourself brain stimulation: implications for ethical considerations and regulatory proposals. Journal of Medical Ethics 42(4): 211-215.

Special Issue schedule and important dates:

The paper submission opens on September 30th 2019. The deadline for submission is December 31st 2019, and the Special Issue is scheduled to be published in January 01, 2021. Papers must be original and comply with TFSC's submission guidelines. Please use the standard TFSC electronic submission process to submit your paper and select "Rise of DiY Labs" when you reach the "Article Type" step in the EVISE submission process.

  • VSI submission opens on:  September 30th, 2019
  • VSI submission deadline: December 31st, 2019
  • Expected publication date of the Virtual Special Issue is: January, 01, 2021

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