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* Last revised December 20, 2013 *

Mozilla Science Lab Goals

The Science Lab connects the open science community and empowers researchers, coders, funders and other partners to make research more like the web: open, collaborative and accessible.

Shape: The Science Lab and its partners are influencing the culture of science by demonstrating new and open ways to conduct research on the web.
Teach:Researchers have the skills to conduct more science on the web, and are training others with programs like Software Carpentry.
Build: Through community building, educational programs and technical prototyping, the Science Lab supports and strengthens the open research community.
Empower:The Science Lab connects the research community, making science more open, collaborative and reproducible.

Mozilla Science Lab Story

1. What is the Science Lab and why does it matter?
The Science Lab connects the open science community and empowers researchers, coders, funders and other partners to make research more like the web: open, collaborative and accessible.

2. How will it shape the world by 2016?

The Science Lab intends to transform the culture of science by demonstrating the power of open-source, interoperable technology. Over the next two years, the Science Lab will build prototypes, produce resources and connect researchers and coders to foster the growth of the open science ecosystem. By 2016, this community will include more than 250 networked instructors, equipped with relevant, quality teaching resources.

3. Why will people get involved in what were doing?

Scientific research relies on building upon other people's work, yet researchers are not armed with the tools, resources or culture to work openly. By bringing the characteristics of the web — accessibility, openness and interoperability — to science, the Science Lab will attract innovative researchers and institutions working to advance science both technologically and culturally. Around the world, a lot of effort is being put into developing tools, practices, implementations and polices around open research. What’s lacking is stewardship, the means for others to get involved (this includes educational barriers) and the linking of disparate communities to work together towards their common goal. The Science Lab is building communities of practice and technical prototypes to show what the web enables. This allows us to support the activity that's currently taking place, and help do it at scale. 4. Why will lead users or partners get involved?

Leaders in the emerging open science community see the Science Lab as a way to amplify their reach and impact. Mozilla's history of working to support the open web, as well as its non-profit status, makes it an attractive partner for the research community. The Science Lab represents the intersection of technical and educational leadership, and offers a powerful demonstration of how Mozilla's values can shape and scale a community.

5. What we're doing in 2014 to move towards this:

Education deliverables

A core  strength of Mozilla Science Lab is our ability to meet scientists at  their current skill level and give them a clear path to master. In this past year, we have both technical training in the form of Software Carpentry Boot Camp, but also piloted a code review process. In 2014, we plan on further scaling that program, creating additional curriculum, and continue to grow and connect the community of researchers reached through our efforts.

1)  Expand Software Carpentry instructor pool by an additional 60 instructors in 2014 bringing our number to 160, with goals of growing that even further to 250 by 2015 and 400 for 2016.

2) Reach an additional 2000 students this year through Software Carpentry (bringing our total since the beginning of the first grant to 6000), with the aim to grow that even further to 7000 for 2015 and 8500 by 2016.

3) Develop and test and in-person train the trainer program for instructors (compress 12 week on-line course to 3 day face-to-face).

4) Begin work exploring a "Data and the Web" curriculum.    - start pulling together information on programs teaching skills relevant to data sharing for scientists, visualisation and analysis    - work with the community to start creating and testing generalised curriculum, building off Software Carpentry's model.

5) Extend our initial code review efforts to work with students and mentors directly.

   - pairing mentors with research groups to introduce code review as a skill and a way of working collaboratively    - testing the impact of open review as the code is being crafted in the sciences (not traditionally done)    - assessing the value in teaching students open code review: does it cut down on error rates, how do they feel it helped / hindered their progress, does it get them to work more collaboratively, how does it affect their production process (are they surfacing and fixing bugs openly as part of the process, documenting them, etc.)

Technology & Prototyping

As part of our overall efforts to address the systemic challenges facing science, we work with members of the community to build compelling prototypes to test out changes to the existing research system. In 2013, this consisted of an initial pilot with PLOS Computational Biology around code review (which we'll build on in 2014), and the start of a project with Github and figshare around credit mechanisms and reusability of code in research. Here are a few projects in the works for 2014.

1) Code as a research object (in development):

   - best practice document about reusable code in science.    - browser extension bridging code and data repositories.    - testing and implementation with publishers and computational scientists    - extendable infrastructure for other data / institutional repositories to plug into.

2)  Open Access Button (in discussion):

   - continue development of a way to surface open access versions (preprints, manuscripts, archived copies) of paywalled literature through the browser, building off the OA Button open infrastructure.    - engage with institutional repositories and open access publishers to discuss testing.    - best practice document about open access and self-archiving.     3) Badges for science (in discussion):

   - browser extension that will enable paper authors to assign badges to contributing authors for the roles in conducting the research.    - test with Open Access publishers    - explore how this affects perception of non-traditional roles in a lab for those doing field work, data analysis or creating and running software. this build off of existing work exploring contributorship in scholarly publication.


1)   Build Communication, Engagement Tools, and Best Practice:

   - Website and resource development: provide the community a better focal point for open research that they can freely contribute to, engage with, and reuse. Also find a means of merging SWC blog material and existing educational resources into broader MSL site.

   - Engagement: Work on ways of better engaging bootcamp participants and other members of the research community, providing clear ways to get involved, join the conversation and continue learning. Also explore ways we can help increase awareness in the community and give others a voice, be it through community calls, online office hours, social media or high-level online video series.

2)   Resource Sprints:

   - Build out best practice documents and materials around open access, data sharing, code reuse, tools and open platforms. This is not only to help create a better reference point for work in the community, but also to help increase awareness about topical issues.

   - Engage the community around topical issues such as code reuse and data sharing to help craft best practice documents. (Regarding code reuse, this would also link with our "code as a research object" project.)

3)   Build an affiliates program:

   - Begin running bootcamps in various regions (S. America, Africa, Australia) to establish and cultivate those contacts with the aim of creating a global network of instructors and contributors. Would involve training up instructors, help them run their first few events, work to keep the participants engaged in our other Science Lab channels afterwards, providing mentorship where needed.

6. Possible revenue opportunities:

We are currently supported by the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation on a 2-year grant for the program. We are in discussion to submit for additional funding from the foundation in early 2014, which will secure core funding for the program through 2016. We also are in the process of reaching out to other foundations in this space for core support, as well as programmatic funding. For our educational work, we are exploring models to help support Software Carpentry through event sponsorship and arrangements with host universities. The aim is to pursue core sponsorship from each event, which will offset the cost of creating and maintaining curriculum, train-the-trainer programs and personnel costs. Longer term, we are looking to work with foundations and universities to support educational and technical work that will help grow and empower the open research community, as well as build compelling tools and prototypes.

7. Why we will succeed:

The Science Lab is part of Mozilla's ongoing and evolving mission to shape communities around openness. The Science Lab will serve as a connector for the open science community, helping researchers acquire the skills needed to do more science on the web, build tools to make research more efficient, and foster best practices.