Looking back on 2015

It’s been a busy year for the Science Lab. We’ve shipped working prototypes, welcomed our first class of Mozilla Fellows, grown the team and added programmatic supports to both catalyze collaborative, open source software development as well as sustain those communities through leadership training and mentorship.

Below are some of the highlights from our 2015 End-of-Year Report. It details our 2015 activities, specifically our efforts to connect with the community, build capacity, and develop prototypes with the community. The full report can be downloaded from figshare.

Connecting with the Community

We provide members of the research community with the supports needed to advance open science practice in their communities. In 2015 we built out additional programmatic and technical supports to facilitate this, from advances to our website to running our second global sprint. In 2016, we’ll continue this work and explore models for incentivizing and engaging researchers worldwide to join us in furthering open science.

Some of our stellar Community
  • Global Sprint: In June, we hosted our second annual Mozilla Science Global Sprint. Over 40 project leads participated and over 100 meaningful code contributions were made (measured through pull requests on projects) in the course of two days. Sprint activity nearly doubled from last year, with 170 community members coming together in more than 30 cities around the world for over 53 consecutive hours of collaboration and innovation on tools, curriculum, and resources for open science!


  • Local Sprint: We piloted a smaller, local sprint in the Mozilla Toronto offices in March 2015, to build a city-based community that would sustain open projects throughout the year . This sprint featured five local open source projects and brought together researchers, designers, and developers for two days of hacking. 

MozSprint Tweet

  • Community Calls: We continue to run monthly public calls around open science, featuring the work of the community and exploring ways to bridge efforts and increase awareness around new projects. Over the course of this year, we had over 290 participants join us for these calls, 164 for the very first time.
  • Collaborate: We launched Collaborate as the main project repository in September 2014. After just over a year, we have 41 projects listed on the site, predominantly community-led endeavors, with over 280 contributors across the platform. We’ll continue to use this collection of projects to develop, refine, and model open source best practices. 

 Paper Badger Badges

Building Capacity for Open Research Practice

This past year, we shifted our focus to supporting open source and open data training, building on our learnings from previous collaborations and feedback from the community. We brought on our first Instructional Designer in August (Zannah Marsh) and Open Data Training Lead in September (Stephanie Wright), as well as a Community Lead (Aurelia Moser) in December. This set up the foundation (and team) for our work moving forward. 

Trainings for Science
  • “Working Open” & the Open Science Leadership Summit: Our lead developer, Abby Cabunoc Mayes, created The Working Open Guide which provides a framework and resources for running successful open source projects, both software and curriculum based. We tested the materials in this guide in a live workshop setting in September 2015. The 2.5 day event – called the “Open Science Leadership Summit”brought together 15 project contributors, study group leads, and librarians to collaboratively craft and test workshop resources and better understand their needs

Fellows + Staff Teambuilding

Looking Forward

This year, we invested more time on 1-on-1 mentorship for project leads and community members, in order to help them build more prototypes and expand their contributorship base. This included mentorship in the lead up to the Global Sprint and MozFest, as well as the Open Science Leadership Summit and Fellows onboarding. What we learned from those events is that there’s a strong desire for community and project management support, for tasks such as roadmapping, facilitation, managing contributors and understanding your community. In 2016, we’ll move towards supporting prototyping in the community rather than leading our own, through in person workshops, a cohort-based model, and mentorship. 

MSL Staff

 For more, download the full End of Year Report from figshare.

Animation in header image from one of our fellows Richard Smith-Unna (@blahah404) – see it on CodePen!