eLife Innovation Sprint 2018 — FAQs

Have a question about the eLife Sprint? I cover some answers below. For full details, please see https://elifesci.org/innovationsprint2018, and if you’ve other questions, please feel free to contact me on Twitter (@npscience or @eLifeInnovation) or email (n [dot] penfold [at] elifesciences [dot] org).

UPDATE: Please note applications have now closed.

What is the #eLifeSprint?

Two-days of prototyping new ideas to bring cutting-edge technology to open research — May 10–11, 2018 in Cambridge, UK.

What it’s NOT? No overnighter, not at the weekend, no working to win a prize.

So what IS it? 60 people, different skillsets, working together (small groups, maybe cross-group) to create and design testable prototypes of new tools or initiatives to advance open science.

What on earth does “bring cutting-edge technology to open research” mean? It’s broad, folks: we don’t just mean things to improve journals (but we have some ideas there!), we’re also looking for disruptive technologies that help accelerate discovery and recognise responsible behaviours in science (it’s in our mission statement) — think preprints, open data / code / formats, recognising researchers for all they do, bringing the joy back into reading about new findings (and sharing them!), making sure science takes advantage of the web / AI / new technologies (and doing so openly).

Hang on, who are eLife?

Page down, folks. It’s at the bottom.

Should I come?

If you want to help research become more open, transparent, collaborative, efficient, inclusive and/or you’re looking for a new challenge to dig into… yes!

What would be the benefit? You’ll get to meet lots of cool people working on similar problems and from different backgrounds. And if the prototype you create is testable, then let’s test it! If it shows potential, we’d love to chat about how eLife might support you to develop your first prototype into a v1 product.

What would I contribute? You could bring all sorts of skills: from software development to UX design to lots of knowledge in the problem space (users and thinkers are so important for prototyping; please don’t be put off if you’re not someone who writes code!). You may have your own ideas already, but no worries if not as we’ve been working on developing some clear but challenging problems to tackle (more to follow in March/April).

Do I need to know anything about ‘open science’? Nope. There’ll be plenty of folks with expertise and experiences to share, and we’d love to introduce you to the challenges we face :) [and if you’re new to this stuff, welcome!]

Ok, sign me up! Actually… please could you apply?

Why are we asking you to apply? We are limited to 60 people at our event (sadly, the TARDIS is in Cardiff not Cambridge), so we are asking you to demonstrate your interest, motivation, and skills you’d like to contribute in our application. We’ll be assessing and selecting based on those answers to give us a great mix of people to work together at the event. When it gets tough at the top, we’ll proactively select for under-represented groups in technology such as women and BAME, and take into account whether you’re local to Cambridge (we’ve only one planet unless Elon gets us to Mars).

Update March 7: Applications have now closed.

Will projects be open source?

Well, we can’t legally demand it, but we are asking everyone to agree to work openly and share outputs with permissive licenses. We ❤ open source and open access.

Can I work on an existing project?

We are specifically looking for new ideas and testable prototypes — if your existing project is currently in beta, or you’re looking to develop a new feature on something existing, convince us in your application why your project would benefit from being worked on at the Sprint; if your project is already mainstream and you want to chip away at some issues, this probably isn’t the right place for that (try the Mozilla Global Sprint instead).

Will eLife pay for my travel costs?

We have some budget set aside to reimburse for hotel accommodation and travel reimbursement. At this point, we estimate we can support ~10–15 people travelling from outside the UK for hotel and flights. We’re asking participants coming from supportive organisations to fund themselves, so we can focus our support on those with the greatest need. Let us know if this is you via the application form: there’s a linkout to a form with these questions.

Will the event be accessible to me?

We seek to host an accessible and inclusive event — please let us know if you have any specific requirements to enable your participation via the application form.

The venue is ground floor, with flat access, and accessible facilities. The closest accommodation is directly next to the venue (Travelodge; https://goo.gl/maps/wqqzFagNVvr) and accessible rooms are available; the accommodation we’ve booked for folks is a 10-minute walk or 5-minute taxi ride away, and also has accessible rooms (Ibis Cambridge Central; https://goo.gl/maps/Pi9bYjBTVw52). We will be happy to help with transport needs, include some parking provision at the venue by request.

Lunch and daytime refreshments will be provided and dietary requirements will be catered for (we’ll ask you when we confirm your place).

All participants will be required to leave the venue at 5:30pm each day. Any participants wishing to continue to work will be free to do so in a separate location — there’s a good working space at the booked hotel.

The event will be conducted and all communications and outputs will be produced in English.

Do you have a Code of Conduct?

Yep, and we’re serious about it. The code is at the bottom of the event page. We’re working on communicating how we will enforce this — thanks for all the help provided already from members of this community!

What should I do next?

We’re still in the planning process for several elements — we welcome your suggestions. In particular:

  • Fun things for the schedule: do you have a favourite way to meet people at the beginning of an event? Do you have a preferred way to find out what everyone has been up to at the end of an event?
  • Resources: we’re compiling datasets, APIs, etc to help people make the most of their time during the event. Do you have any favourite resources you’d recommend?
  • Becoming and staying engaged: would you prefer to get to know people before the event? And how might you like to stay involved after the event? What works for you?
  • How can we make the event more inclusive?
  • Other suggestions: anything else you’d like to see at an event like this.

No event organiser is an island

Thank you to the lovely folk at Cambridge Biomakespace — our local DIY bio lab, big shoutout to Jenny Molloy! They are helping us to organise, publicise, and they’ll be there on the day too.

Hat-tip to our venue partner, Cambridge Junction — they’re a charity and social enterprises supporting the arts in Cambridge, worth a look if you’re ever in our neck of the woods!

Open source love to all behind Mozilla Global Sprint: we’re thrilled to be an official Associate Event.

And of course a big thanks to all at eLife and beyond who have already helped shape this event. You’re all magic unicorns.

About eLife

The way that scientific research is shared and evaluated still bears the legacy of a system based around print media. New technologies in the digital era present a huge opportunity to accelerate discovery and make science collaborative instead of competitive.

eLife is a non-profit organisation, supported by research funders and guided by researchers. Our mission (which we choose to accept!) is to help scientists accelerate discovery by operating a platform for research communication that encourages and recognises the most responsible behaviours in science. Seriously, it’s printed on the wall of our office.

The open-access eLife journal for advances in life science and biomedical research was just the first step. eLife also supports the development of open tools, technologies and processes to improve the way important research is selected, presented, shared and evaluated. And it’s my job to find the golden nugget ideas out there. More on that in another post.

For now, you can check out the kinds of things we’ve been exploring at eLife Labs. And there’s more about eLife at https://elifesciences.org/about.