This is the second post in our Year in Review series. Every day this week, one member of the Science Lab will be posting their reflections on lessons learned in 2014, and point to plans for 2015 in their area of expertise as discussed by the team in Portland earlier this month. Today, our lead developer, Abby Cabunoc, writes about her experiences leading our technical prototyping strategy.
This past August, I joined the Mozilla Science Lab as lead developer because I care deeply about using the web to help move science forward. With a history rooted in the open web and open source communities, Mozilla is in a powerful position to facilitate a culture of open research on the web. In this post, I’ll be going over our technical prototyping strategy as we look back at 2014 and plan for the next year.
Why do we need prototypes?
In order to advance science on the web, we need to test ways to support research through open standards and tools. Prototypes can be used to leverage existing systems and technologies in the research environment in an open way. At the Science Lab, we want to empower the scientific community to come together to build tools that make research more efficient and reliable by promoting accessibly, openness and interoperability.
How are we helping build these prototypes?
We approach prototyping in a strategic way that not only provides a useful tool to researchers, but helps strengthen communities and enable them to build their own tools. As part of our technical prototyping strategy, we
- a) help identify tools and standards needed for research to thrive on the web,
- b) partner with relevant institutions and communities to leverage existing technologies and facilitate interoperability and
- c) empower the research community to come together and work on these problems.
What does this look like?
Partnering on prototypes for web-based science tools
In 2014 we established a variety of partnerships within the community. Together with publishers, funders, industry and academia, we worked on solutions advancing science on the web.
- Code as a Research Object: This collaboration with the code hosting service GitHub and the open data repositories figshare and Zenodo explores how to better integrate code and scientific software into the scholarly workflow. In 2014, several technical prototypes emerged from the collaboration allowing users to easily obtain a DOI for their code making it citable and easier to incorporate into the existing credit system. We also engaged the community to discuss what software metadata standards are needed to allow for discoverability, reuse and citation.
- Open Access Button:
We are currently evaluating other possible partnerships and prototypes for 2015. Stay tuned for possible updates on data visualisations or review systems! We’re always looking for areas where we can help build tools to facilitate open research, let us know if you have an idea.
Empowering the community to build
In 2014 we worked to create environments and surface projects where the community could come together to work on these projects.
- Global Sprint: In July, we hosted our first global Mozilla Science Lab sprint. There were 22 participating cities and 52-consecutive hours of collaboration on tools, lesson materials and resources for open science. The community was able to come together and build new lesson materials, tools for teaching and new technologies for open science.
- Local events: In 2015, we’ll be exploring the idea of hosting local sprints, study groups and meetups. We want to give the community a place where they can meet and build together. Strong relationships and communication, especially between different fields, are essential for successful collaborations. Look out for a local Toronto Science Lab sprint early next year.
It’s an amazing time for science and the web! We have the community and resources to make a difference in this space. I hope you’ll join us as we build and explore different ways to help research thrive on the open web.
Cover photo: particleclicker team demoing their game at #mozfest CC image courtesy of yuandra on flickr