Mozilla Launches ScienceLab To Help Researchers Use The Open Web To Shape Science’s Future

Mozilla today launched a new initiative that’s a bit different from the usual standards-based web projects the organization is usually involved in. Mozilla’s ScienceLab, which will be led by open science advocate Kaitlin Thaney and Software Carpentry founder Greg Wilson, wants to do nothing less than “help researchers around the world use the open web to shape science’s future.” The project is supported by the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation.

“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,” Mozilla’s Mark Surman argues.

The academic credit system (think “publish or perish”) is, after all, still completely rooted in the idea that the only way to disseminate knowledge is through “papers” (and preferably papers in a “high-impact journal“). Mozilla rightfully believes that the result of this is that “researchers are often discouraged from sharing, learning, reusing and adopting the type of open and collaborative learning that the web makes possible.”

Thaney also notes that he hopes the project can help “to push the boundaries of what ‘digital research’ can and should look like, and further explore how we can make the web work for science.”

For now, the initiative wants to focus on bringing digital literacy to science through teaching students and academics digital literacy and about the tools that are already at their disposal, as well as through teaching researchers basic computing skills. Mostly, though, the project wants to help start a conversation around how the approaches that built the open web can also help shape the future of science.