Mozilla announces new open source science initiative

Firefox developer Mozilla has announced the creation of a new open source scientific research initiative called the Mozilla Science Lab, claiming that current peer review research systems are still based on ‘analogue’ methods.

“Scientists created the web — but the open web still hasn’t transformed scientific practice to the same extent we’ve seen in other areas like media, education and business. For all of the incredible discoveries of the last century, science is still largely rooted in the ‘analogue’ age,” Mozilla Foundation executive chairman Mark Surman.

“Credit systems in science are still largely based around ‘papers’, for example and, as a result, researchers are often discouraged from sharing, learning, reusing, and adopting the type of open and collaborative learning that the web makes possible.”

According to Mozilla, despite digital literacy being as important in academia as reading, writing and arithmetic, skills with using open online web tools are “still leagues behind” other fields.

The project will run “Software Carpentry” classes across the US and aims to “foster a dialogue” between the open web community and scientific researchers.

The new initiative will be headed by Kaitlin Thaney, who has previously been a manager of external partnerships for research software firm Digital Science, managed the science program at Creative Commons, worked on education technology with MIT and Microsoft, and has been a writer for the Boston Globe.

“I’m thrilled to announce that I’ve joined Mozilla to build and direct their new open science initiative – the Mozilla Science Lab,” Thaney says.

“The first member of my team is Greg Wilson, founder of Software Carpentry, a program that teaches basic computational literacy to researchers to help them be more productive. I’ve long admired Greg’s work in this space, in providing an entry point for students to learn things like version control, data management, basic scripting.”

The new initiative is supported by grants from the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation.

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