Open Science Comes to Campus

The Science Lab is excited to announce that over the past few weeks, Bill Mills and Shauna Gordon-McKeon of Open Hatch have been discussing a new project – Open Science Comes to Campus, a new event based on Open Hatch’s wildly successful Open Source Comes to Campus series.

Open Source Comes to Campus is a one-day event that introduces the ideas and values of open source software development to interdisciplinary cohorts of undergraduates, along with workshops on contributorship, git, and all the skills and customs necessary to successfully participate in an online open source community. The day concludes with several hours of hack time, where students attempt to address selected issues in projects specially curated for the event; students go home with both the skills and the confidence to continue to build their coding experience and contribute to the open source projects they find most compelling.

With Open Science Comes to Campus, we hope to build the same positive first experiences in contributorship and collaborative scientific coding, with special attention paid to the unique challenges that open science presents. A very early draft of curriculum looks something like:

  • Introduction to Open Science. What is Open Science, what does it hope to achieve, and how does collaborative coding empower us all?
  • Communicating Around Open Source. Open source and open science projects can live or die on the strength of their community’s online interactions. How can we leverage the web to build a space that is welcoming, illuminating, safe and productive for all our colleagues?
  • Using Git & GitHub. Version control is an indispensable tool for open science. In this unit, we’ll introduce students to using git and collaborating on GitHub.
  • Career Panel. What are some experiences professional researchers have had in the realms of open science and collaborative coding? We’d like to give students the chance to interact with leaders in the space, to see how these ideas affect real science.
  • Starting Open Science. How does one go about starting an open source project? What are the tools and resources needed, how does one craft an online community, and how does one gain both users and contributors to their work?
  • Contributions Workshop. Time to get hacking! A menu of hand-picked open source science projects will be offered to students, as great examples of open science and opportunities to jump in and get involved.

This follows the tested Open Source Comes to Campus curriculum closely, but with notable additions and modifications to speak to the scientific community – the schedule is still in heavy development, more to come as details emerge.

Getting Involved

Open Science Comes To Campus is still in its very early planning stages, and we’d like your input on the program. What sort of activities and curriculum would you present to give students and researchers both skills and a positive first experience in participating in open science and collaborative coding? Please join the discussion on Open Hatch’s Forum, and tell us your ideas.

One of the areas under heaviest new development, is the Starting Open Science unit. More traditional open source projects can enjoy enormous communities – projects like Firefox, Ubuntu and Python – and provide products a contributor is unlikely to build from scratch. But, due to the smaller communities and more esoteric nature of much scientific research, the need and opportunity for an individual researcher or lab to launch their own projects is much greater in the sciences. How can we help students and early-career researchers set up open source projects for their research that are easy to manage and inviting for their colleagues to collaborate on? We’ve started brainstorming in this etherpad – please, jump in and add your ideas, stories, criticisms and questions there.

Finally, we’re going to need somewhere to run this thing! If you think your institution has a strong open science community, get in touch with Bill or Shauna on the forum thread linked above, in the Science Lab IRC, or on Twitter. We look forward to working with you!