Three lessons I learned from building Spark – a new (open access) discovery extension

“After over five years of work around scholarly communication, I have to say that this field never ceases to impress me. If you look away for a minute, you’ll be welcomed back by all sorts of developments, including shifting cultures, new funding models, emerging practices and new software solutions. This summer, I thought I would start a project to experiment with the tech side of scholarly communication – particularly, I wanted to create a browser extension focusing on the pain points of researchers.

My summer adventure started in June, when I sat in front of my screen with no idea how browser extensions even worked. Today, I am proud to say that Spark, the fruit of my coding experiments, has been approved in the Chrome Web Store. In this article, I share three lessons I learned during this fun yet challenging experience….”

CODECHECK: an Open Science initiative for the independent execution of computations underlying research articles during peer review to improve reproducibility

Abstract:  The traditional scientific paper falls short of effectively communicating computational research.  To help improve this situation, we propose a system by which the computational workflows underlying research articles are checked. The CODECHECK system uses open infrastructure and tools and can be integrated into review and publication processes in multiple ways. We describe these integrations along multiple dimensions (importance, who, openness, when). In collaboration with academic publishers and conferences, we demonstrate CODECHECK with 25 reproductions of diverse scientific publications. These CODECHECKs show that asking for reproducible workflows during a collaborative review can effectively improve executability. While CODECHECK has clear limitations, it may represent a building block in Open Science and publishing ecosystems for improving the reproducibility, appreciation, and, potentially, the quality of non-textual research artefacts. The CODECHECK website can be accessed here:


Harnessing digital technologies to advance research and knowledge in the South | INASP

“To formulate appropriate policy and practical responses policy makers, practitioners and researchers in Africa, Asia and Latin America need knowledge and ideas that are rooted in their own contexts, and which address their specific problems and needs.

Too often, knowledge produced in the North dominates the search results, papers and reports that can be easily accessed online. Limited digitisation of research reports and data makes it difficult for knowledge users to access and build on relevant existing work in their field. …

Our vision is of a digital platform that makes Southern knowledge more visible, and which empowers experts and practitioners in the South to learn, to create new knowledge and collaborate to solve their own priority problems.

We want to build a community-driven, social learning environment to: 

Grow a global, connected community, spanning different disciplinary and thematic expertise, creating a critical mass of knowledge and experience that enables questions to be answered quickly and allowing members to overcome knowledge barriers that they encounter 
Connect evidence producers and evidence users and provide spaces through which they can identify research questions and develop new initiatives 
Facilitate access to Southern transdisciplinary research through intelligent search algorithms  
Provide a foundation from which research institutions can be supported and empowered to develop their own in-house learning programmes, connecting digital communities to locally-run, in-person training and mentoring, and offering routes towards institutional sustainability.  …”

Open Source Infrastructure Engineer: Pangeo Project | 2i2c

We are looking for an Open Source Infrastructure Engineer who will help shape the future of data-intensive scientific research and make a big impact on important problems shaping society. This engineer will lead the development and operation of cloud-based infrastructure, focusing on the Pangeo Project – a community platform for big data geoscience.

Location: Anywhere – this is a fully-remote position.
Position: Full-time
Salary: $110,000-130,000 + benefits

Applications Analyst/Developer (337012)

“The University Library is undertaking an exciting project, due to commence February 2021, to implement a new repository for its digital theses and exam paper collections. We are looking for a versatile developer and system administrator with experience in repositories and/or Library systems to help this project succeed. As an enthusiastic, innovative and experienced developer you will play a lead role in the implementation of our new repository system and the migration of data from our legacy repository. This post will sit within the Library Systems team of ISD Business Systems at the University. This is a small team that delivers systems key to Library operations you will be required to provide back-up support for these systems. A dynamic, flexible and customer centred approach is key….”

FOSS wins again: Free and Open Source Communities comes through on 19th Century Newspapers (and Books and Periodicals…) – Internet Archive Blogs

“I have never been more encouraged and thankful to Free and Open Source communities. Three months ago I posted a request for help with OCR’ing and processing 19th Century Newspapers and we got soooo many offers to help.  Thank you, that was heart warming and concretely helpful– already based on these suggestions we are changing over our OCR and PDF software completely to FOSS, making big improvements, and building partnerships with FOSS developers in companies, universities, and as individuals that will propel the Internet Archive to have much better digitized texts.  I am so grateful, thank you.   So encouraging.

I posted a plea for help on the Internet Archive blog: Can You Help us Make the 19th Century Searchable? and we got many social media offers and over 50 comments the post– maybe a record response rate.   

We are already changing over our OCR to Tesseract/OCRopus and leveraging many PDF libraries to create compressed, accessible, and archival PDFs….”

MSU Careers Details – Technical Lead, The Commons / Information Technologist II

“The College of Arts & Letters (CAL) and the MSU Libraries seek an Information Technologist II to fill the Technical Lead role supporting the development of The Commons, a nonprofit academic professional network serving scholars across the disciplines and around the world.  This is a full-time, 24-month end-dated position, with the possibility of renewal. 


The successful candidate will be an up-and-coming leader in academic WordPress development, with a commitment to building and maintaining a large-scale scholar-focused network. The candidate will also have outstanding organizational and interpersonal skills, deep intellectual curiosity, and the ability to work both independently and collaboratively on a distributed team.

Specific areas of responsibility for this position include:

Prototyping and developing new platform integrations and features
Tracking and resolving bug reports and other user feedback
Designing and implementing a federated, scalable architecture for network growth
Ensuring full adherence with network accessibility standards and consistently improving platform user experience
Creating full documentation both for code developed and for network deployment processes
Working with the Commons team to shape the project’s roadmap, prioritize development goals, and deliver on those goals….”

Digital Repository Software Developer – METRO

“Located in New York City, the Metropolitan New York Library Council (METRO) is a non-profit organization working to develop and maintain essential library services throughout New York City and Westchester County. The METRO membership consists of a diverse group of over 200 libraries, archives, and information organizations ranging from New York’s largest libraries to small community archives. METRO provides professional development and continuing education opportunities for our membership, in addition to digitization, metadata, and hosting services for digital collections.

METRO is seeking a highly motivated Software Developer/Software Engineer with demonstrable understanding of modern PHP code, an interest in cultural heritage and/or Open Science and ideally with prior experience developing Drupal 8/9 modules. We have architected and developed an innovative open source DAM/Digital repository system called Archipelago, and as part of the development team, you will have a chance to significantly contribute to this project, support our pre-existing stack and popular home-brewed software. You will also help our partners transition to our platform and participate in related digital GLAM (Galleries, Libraries, Archives and Museums) initiatives constructed on top, on one side, or under it. Archipelago taps deeply into the marrow bone of Drupal 8/9 by implementing a different approach to data modelling that enables nearly infinite GLAM metadata and media workflows.  By running under innovative DevOps approaches and making use of JSON’s nimbleness, Archipelago is navigating the shifting technical landscape with real world LoD implementations, Natural Language Processing, complex data mangling, and graph traversing. Part of your work will include reflecting on our current roadmap and exploring how our existing code base can be improved upon. You will help us determine what code needs to be pruned, what parts need better documentation, and how we can leverage our community values like openness and inclusion to build better and just software systems. Reporting to the Assistant Director for Digital Strategy and Archipelago software architect, the successful candidate will work collaboratively with our team moving each code release forward, building new custom repositories and new features for our national and international partners….”

Software Engineer, the Underlay Project · KFG Notes

“The Knowledge Futures Group is hiring a software developer to help us build the Underlay, a distributed public knowledge graph. We’re looking for someone with strong full-stack web development skills and an interest in semantic web and decentralized web technologies. You’ll get to work with experimental technologies, make significant contributions to product direction, and help shepherd a research project into the real world. We will pay you competitively with startups, let you work from wherever you want, and take you and your ideas seriously. Join us!…”

Getting ahead of the curve on Covid-19 – Code For Africa – Medium

“Does one size fit all? How should Africa, with its fragile healthcare systems, crowded settlements and large informal economies tailor global strategies for fighting Covid-19 to ensure they are feasible or effective locally? African policymakers and health agencies need evidence-based insights with strong local context to make informed decisions. They are, however, struggling to find detailed local data or analysis.

The continent’s largest network of open data analysts and civic technologists, Code For Africa (CfA), and the open source digital archive for African scientific research, AfricArXiv, have therefore partnered to support African efforts to get ahead of the curve, by helping surface actionable local data and credible local scientific research.

The partnership will include expert analysis by the CfA-affiliated Takwimu, on the political economy and development policy impacts, and will also leverage AfricArXiv’s partnerships with the world’s leading preprint repositories for scientific research, namely the Open Science Framework (OSF), ScienceOpen and Zenodo. …”

MOSS launches COVID-19 Solutions Fund – The Mozilla Blog

“Mozilla is announcing today the creation of a COVID-19 Solutions Fund as part of the Mozilla Open Source Support Program (MOSS). Through this fund, we will provide awards of up to $50,000 each to open source technology projects which are responding to the COVID-19 pandemic in some way….”

MOSS launches COVID-19 Solutions Fund – The Mozilla Blog

“Mozilla is announcing today the creation of a COVID-19 Solutions Fund as part of the Mozilla Open Source Support Program (MOSS). Through this fund, we will provide awards of up to $50,000 each to open source technology projects which are responding to the COVID-19 pandemic in some way….”

An online tool to determine Plan S aligned publishing venues: an invitation to tender.

cOAlition S members are seeking to procure a “journal checker tool” to enable their researchers to identify publishing venues which offer a route to comply with the Plan S Principles. We envision a simple web interface that will provide an author with concise information regarding their ability to publish in a journal while complying with Plan S.

The user should be able to type in the name of their preferred journal, pick their institution, choose their funder, and easily see if that journal enables compliance with their funder’s OA policy and if so, via which route.

The focus of the tool is to provide an answer as to whether the journal:

• Offers a route to compliance, as set out in the Implementation Guidance of Plan S

• Offers a CC BY option to all researchers working under a Plan S policy

• Allows the author to retain copyright

cOAlition S invites qualified providers to develop a Plan S Journal Checker tool | Plan S

“cOAlition S publishes today, 7 February 2020, an Invitation to Tender (ITT) for the development and maintenance of a Journal Checker Tool. This tool will support researchers who receive funding from cOAlition S members to identify publishing venues (journals or platforms) that enable compliance with Plan S. We require the Journal Checker Tool to be available for use from November 2020.

To ensure there is no further delay to the implementation of Plan S, cOAlition S is adopting an iterative approach to determining publishing venues aligned to Plan S. This is in recognition that some elements of the Plan S Implementation Guidance are yet to be fully implemented (such as price transparency). Therefore, the initial focus will be on identifying publishing venues that meet the following Plan S requirements:

a) Offer a route to compliance, as set out in Implementation of Plan S b) Offer a CC-BY option to all researchers working under a Plan S policy c)  Allow the author to retain copyright….”

Next Generation ArXiv and the Economics of Open Access Publishing

“Launched in 1991, arXiv has become an indispensable platform providing free and open access to research for the machine learning community and beyond. Now, arXiv has announced plans to alpha test its next-generation “arXiv-NG” submission system in the first quarter of 2020. The system is a significant part of the growing arXiv-NG initiative that aims to improve core service infrastructure through an incremental and modular renewal of the existing arXiv system.

The arXiv team has already taken the initial steps to improve the overall accessibility of the repository’s user interfaces, both through behind-the-scenes structural improvements and user-facing changes — adding for example support for mobile-friendly abstract pages….”