'Working Open' Project Guide


Introducing Open


  1. Learn what "working open" means generally.
  2. Understand how the world wide web and web technologies have supercharged the open movement.
  3. Understand what "working open" can mean for science and scientific research.
  4. Learn about the ways that Mozilla Science Lab is encouraging communities to work in the open, and how you can get involved.


  • 10 minutes to read and explore resources

1. What is "Working Open?"

"Working open" (for the purposes of this guide) is an approach and set of practices for creating and building stuff, anything from software and hardware to learning materials to scientific research.

When you're working open, you may:

  • Invite other people, aka "contributors" to work on the project-- anyone with some level of skill who has an interest can pitch in.
  • Provide information, assistance, and encouragement to any contributor working on your project, and connect them with fellow contributors.
  • Encourage this community of contributors to participate in project decision-making and planning, and make these conversations as public and reusable as possible.
  • Make the both the end product of your project (and the process you used to get there) widely and freely accessible to all, for use and reuse.

Each of these points deals with making a project participatory (getting new people involved) and transparent (getting information about the project out in the world). Every project is different, and some of these points may be more or less important in a given project, but in short, working open is way of working where outsiders can become insiders.

2. What's the Web (and Mozilla) got to do with it?

The easily accessible, information-rich World Wide Web is home to countless online communities where people from around the world freely and asynchronously share and discuss content and ideas. We can think of the web as an awesome tool for creation and collaboration, a space where people can find each other, communicate, and work together.

This guide was generated by Mozilla Science Lab, which is a program of the Mozilla Foundation. The Foundation is responsible for coordinating the network of volunteer contributors who collaborate to make the open source web browser Firefox and a host of other products. "Open-source" in this case means the code for Firefox is freely, publicly available and anyone who would like to can contribute to its development. Many of the tools and practices of "working open" were created, tested, and refined by software developers working on open-source projects, and using the web as a collaboration tool.

In addition to growing the Firefox project, the Mozilla Foundation also champions an accessible, free Internet, and promotes "web literacy" for all: the ability to read, write, and participate on the web. The Foundation runs programs for Open News, the Open Web, Open Science, and manages a formidable Learning Network of educators and learners.

3. Why "Open" Science?

Whether you're studying the human genome, black holes, deep sea ecology, or alternative energy sources, science is a practice and process of learning and creating knowledge. Scientists always build on (or transform) our existing understanding of the world. So when a researcher shares an insight or discovery, makes her data available on the web, or makes the details of a new experimental technique or tool public so others can use and reuse it, she empowers fellow researchers and furthers our collective knowledge... knowledge that can be used to solve problems, save lives, and inspire and amaze us all. The more scientific data, knowledge, methods, tools and skills made widely and openly available to all, the better.

4. What does Mozilla Science Lab do?

At Mozilla Science Lab we help scientists and researchers (anyone from students to established researchers to citizen scientists) to work openly and do better research, more research, and make that research more useful by sharing it widely.

We provide leadership training (such as this Guide), learning materials and formats (such as Mozilla Study Groups), platforms for sharing and showcasing open Science projects (Such as MSL Collaborate), and support for leaders in open science (through our Fellowships for Open Science).



Working Open:

Open Source:

Open Science:

Web Literacy: