About the Federation

The Open Science Federation is a nonprofit alliance working to improve the conduct and communication of science. We are scientists and citizen scientists, writers, journalists, and educators, and makers of and advocates for Open Data, Open Access, Open Source and Standards, and for diversity, equity, and inclusion in science. Our mission is to open science.

Get to know us at @openscience on Twitter or in Google+ or our Google+ Community and beyond, where we have connected more than 100,000 nodes in our social network.

We do not intend to be the centre of the Open Science community per se, though analyses often place us there, such as in NodeXL SNA Maps via @marc_smith, here and here. See also this analysis and some open data from the #openscience hashtag on Twitter, now a few years ago.

A network can be stronger than any one organization, and a federation of networks, stronger still. Thus we share access to our social media accounts with many individuals and organisations. Some of our account managers are listed under ‘About’, on this page in Google+ and some of our colleagues at @openscience on Twitter and elsewhere are anonymous.

Several companies in publishing and one in healthcare have attempted to purchase our social media presence and our contacts’ data; we have declined and always will. Our efforts are by, for, and belong to the Open Science community.

We are often asked where we stand on for-profit, closed source, open washing, neoliberalism, privacy, data ownership, and peer review, and the many more controversial, less obviously Open threads of discussion in or related to Open Science.

Our community includes many vital corporate members and our Federation has itself benefited from their generosity. We have, for example accepted donations of hosting resources from Amazon, event venues from Mozilla, Microsoft Research, Google, et al. Their ingenuity has pushed Open Science forward such as at Experiment.com, Academia.edu, and Science Exchange to name only a very few. We have seen formerly, entirely open tools and services, such as Figshare join corporations like Digital Science and we have cheered them on. They became less open in some regards but much more capable in others — thus opening more science, or opening science more, and making Open Science itself more capable.

We, as a Federation are committed to remaining decentralized and depersonalised, non-profit and non-exclusive in all regards. We also observe that Open is in no regard a binary, without intending offence to The Open Definition nor to other definitions and standards for which we’ve great respect and which serve their role. There is a more important question than whether science is open, per se — that is, how open is it? And how can we open it more? There are many right times for definitions and standards but we encourage Open Science itself to build a big tent.

As technically skilled volunteers and sometimes contractors, we take up technical projects under the Open Science Federation banner from time to time, especially in open source software for science, for science publishing, and for science communications.

Some of our favourite work has been to build a federation of publishing and social networks, initially for the SciFund Challenge and ScienceOnline in Seattle, the Bay Area, and in Vancouver. That technical federation has since grown. SciFund’s network of researcher blogs and sites, for example spawned another, the Open Notebook Science Network. Our federation is comprised of now more than one thousand sites, blogs, and networks, serving thousands of researchers and labs, event series, workshops and working groups and so on.

As for the technical aspects of ‘federation’, for example one’s username and password can be used across federated sites, and all sites share one copy of the open source software powering them. Our system is a bit like a WordPress.com for science, only rather than being one network it’s a network of networks, and we do not only run WordPress. Our code is open source and available in the public repositories for WordPress, Drupal, diaspora, et al.

We have also run a separate federation for young adult researchers and bloggers, teachers, and mentors, called the Budding Scientists Federation, which has included  Future Science Leaders in British Columbia, the Student Bio Expo in the American Pacific Northwest, U20 Science Online, and many others. For this junior federation alone, our volunteers have given several thousands of hours of pro bono software development and technical support, while also donating the cost of services such as web and email hosting.

Separately from all of the above, we maintain more highly secured, semi-private networks, used for example by biomedical researchers for online lab notebooks, intranets, event management, and so on. Contact us if you are interested in our services. If your work contributes to opening science, we want to help.

OpenScienceFederation.com is currently a yearbook with a couple dozen projects. Some of us are considering ways to make our site more interesting, ideas include a global calendar of Open Science events, a directory of people and projects in Open Science, or a distributed, open source social layer for science.