Advancing open data practice within institutions

(The following is cross posted on our main Mozilla Science Lab blog.)

I’m excited to announce that as of today, applications for our first ever Mozilla Fellowship for Science are open. The Fellowships offer a unique (and paid) opportunity for early-career researchers from the life and natural sciences to serve as catalysts in their communities for open science and open data practices. Fellows will work within their home institutions and communities as well as with us at Mozilla to create code, curriculum, and help build momentum around open science and the web among their peers.

There’s a whole host of benefits and additional information listed here on the Fellows page. Applications are only open until August 14, 2015, so apply today.

These Fellowships have been made possible by the Helmsley Charitable Trust. They also represent part of a larger move within the Science Lab (as we round our second birthday), as well as within Mozilla itself, to focus our efforts around empowering leaders and fostering open practice.

For the research community, we’ve learned that “open practice” is not always an easy sell. For all of the work that the open access and open data movement have done to increase our collective awareness about the nobler benefit for open knowledge, that’s still not transforming research practice at a root level. Part is due to a system that has moved forward for hundreds of years fueled by competition and a culture of inclusivity. Another part, in my opinion, is that we’re not framing the issue properly to really drive adoption and culture change.

“Open” is not just about availability, it’s about utility. And we believe we can best help move this ball forward by engaging the community around open source and more broadly, data, which we see as the bedrock of modern research.

And our work to dig into that is just beginning. Over the next few months, working along with the community, we’ll start digging into development of an Open Data training program. (There’s still time to apply.) I think we can make the biggest impact by pressure testing Open Data training in science, and, who knows – possibly heightening data literacy globally in a few years time.

Open data is the fabric of the web. Let’s not forget Sir Tim Berners-Lee was looking for a way to share research among colleagues at CERN. Together we can bring the power of the web and the open ecosystems that have grown around it into the lab and use it to accelerate our search for new knowledge.

Incentivizing Open Science Leaders

The second big component of our work going forward is our Fellowship program, of which our call for applicants opens today. This year, we’ll be bringing on three fellows, who are currently working as researchers, with a focus on life and natural sciences. The Fellows will work with us and within their home institutions to help build resources and more importantly community around open data, open source and knowledge sharing. They will also serve as mentors to their peers so that today’s learners can be tomorrow’s community leaders.

Fellowships are paid positions (a $60,000 USD stipend for 10 months, plus health insurance, childcare supplements and more), and will include Mozilla training and support.

Note: For the first year of this pilot, we’ve narrowed our scope both geographically and by discipline. The aim is to model this work to open it more broadly in future years. If you’d like to get involved, there are a host of ways, and we’d love to help out. Drop us a line at [email protected] and we can get the ball rolling.

In the meantime, visit our Fellows page to learn more and apply here.

There’s more to come, and we’ll be sharing more of our plans and thinking in the coming weeks, so do stay tuned, and many thanks to all of the community members, learners, mentors and colleagues who’ve helped us shape the program over the last two years. Here’s to year three!


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