OBF visioning 2017

TL;DR: The OBF isn’t doing enough in public policy and advocacy around Open Science, and we are looking to recruit a new board member who is interested in this role. Is that you? If yes, then contact us.


At our October meeting, the OBF board took some time to think broadly about the OBF, current and future. We tried to answer the questions: What do we say we do? What do we actually do? What more do we wish we could do? We re-read our mission statement and list of public activities from the OBF main page, listed the current efforts of the board members and affiliates, and assessed how our actual work aligned with the stated goals of the organization. This was motivated by having board members who are new-ish to the OBF, as well as upcoming board elections.

Our general mission is fairly broad (“promoting the practice and philosophy of Open Source software development and Open Science within the biological research community”). We aim to do this through running / sponsoring BOSC and other open source events (codefests and Google Summer of Code); running a travel fellowship program; managing servers, mailing lists, domain names and other assets for our member projects; and by advocacy through policy and public statements.

With BOSC being our flagship event, it is not surprising that about 50% of our board time is spent on organizing this meeting, with our remaining effort about equally focused on the travel fellowship, server / domain management, and financials.

What more could we be doing? OBF could help facilitate other events, as we do for Google Summer of Code (GSoC). In this model, the board does not directly run the event, but instead provides support with financial management (e.g., reimbursements and payments) and advertising, while the hands-on organization is done by non-board members. In the case of GSoC, Kai Bin has been the OBF GSoC administrator for the past couple of years (thanks, Kai!). So, even though the board members don’t have bandwidth to organize other events, we could certainly help in a ‘producer’ role.

The big area where we aren’t doing enough is advocacy and communication. There is huge interest in Open Science, reproducibility, software sustainability and other similar topics, but the OBF is surprisingly silent. This doesn’t reflect a lack of interest (or opinion!) among the board members, but rather the difficulty in carving out time from other OBF jobs.

So, we are looking to recruit a new board member who is interested in policy and advocacy around Open Science. Does that sound like you? If you want to put your name forward, please email the board. The election will be held at the upcoming public board meeting in January. If you want more information, or want to contact one of us to talk about being on the board, see the OBF Board page.

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