Mozilla Science Lab Week in Review, May 11-17

The Week in Review is our weekly roundup of what’s new in open science from the past week. If you have news or announcements you’d like passed on to the community, be sure to share on Twitter with @mozillascience and @billdoesphysics, or join our mailing list and get in touch there.


Blogs & Papers

  • Heather Piwowar and Todd Vision published a high-statistics study of the reuse of gene expression microarray data. The researchers found that papers publishing their data received significantly more citations, after controlling for other known influencing factors, and that the rate of actual data reuse has been consistently increasing for over a decade.
  • Madian Khabsa and C. Lee Giles published a study on the volume of scholarly papers available online, and estimates of the rates at which these papers are available for free by discipline; computing science led the pack at a full half of all papers available freely, while physics and geosciences topped the list for the natural sciences, at just over a third.
  • Thomas Leeper blogged a thoughtful and in depth examination of terminology surrounding reproducibility in science; Leeper argues that without more precise and widely-held definitions of what language surrounding reproducibility means, progress on that front will continue to struggle.
  • Diana Hicks et al proposed a list of best practices in defining and using metrics of scholarly output. Topping their recommendations were the coupling of expert knowledge with raw analytics, consideration of the specific objectives of the authors and their institutions, and breaking down the hurdles to metric significance faced by researchers working in non-English speaking communities.

Tools & Projects

  • Richard Morey has produced a JavaScript library for visualizing statistical distributions for teaching; stat-distributions-js allows students to conveniently plot and manipulate distributions in the browser, in order to build their familiarity with statistics in a hands-on setting.
  • NASA is offering collections of open data on space-based biology experiments from its GeneLab portal.

Government & Policy

  • Sebastian Bauhoff and Roxanne Oroxom wrote an article investigating the price of accessing all the references in an important policy work, in the context of the impact the prices associated with closed scholarship could have on policy decisions in developing countries, in response to the previously reported inaccessibility of West African Ebola research from the 1980s.
  • Germany’s government science advisory board has recommended more be done to encourage researchers to publish negative results, by pushing for these publications to be seen in a more positive light in the context of program reviews.