Data.gov: Data.gov is part of the U.S. government’s ongoing efforts to make government agency data accessible to the general public and available for use by individuals, businesses, non-profit organizations, and web developers. This site contains over 183,000 data sets from 77 different agencies and sub-agencies of the government, including the Department of Labor, the Department of Health and Human Services, and the Department of Education. Anyone can search the data sets or browse for data by agency or topic. Data.gov is designed to encourage the practice of “civic hacking,” a practice of using open government data to increase civic engagement and connect citizens with useful information. Data.gov provides examples of how citizens, local governments, businesses, and consumer organizations have used their data. In addition, the site includes links to a variety of software applications that utilize this open government data that may be of interest to citizens.
HHMI BioInteractive: Diversity of Organisms: BioInteractive is a website created by science education specialists at the Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI) and hosts a rich collection of award-winning online resources for the biology classroom. Its Diversity of Organisms page contains a number of resources about characteristics, classification, and evolution of different organisms. One highlight of this page is its engaging short films: Popped Secret explains how scientists identified that modern day corn was cultivated from the teosinte plant and The Guide: A Biologist in Gorongosa, directed by Academy Award winner Jessica Yu, is a portrait of a young Mozambique boy who decides to pursue a career in biology in order to preserve Gorongosa National Park. BioInteractive also excels at providing accessible visualizations that illuminate biological processes, such as the lifecycle of a virus. Finally, BioInteractive includes an innovative, interactive activity called “WildCam Gorongosa” where students can examine 52 photographs from Gorongosa National Park and, with the aid of some online tools, see if they can identify animals.
Open Syllabus Project: Launched in January 2016 by a group of scholars at the American Assembly at Columbia University, the Open Syllabus Project contains data from over one million university syllabi. Using publicly available syllabi along with faculty contributions, the Open Syllabus team enters every text assigned to students into a database. Faculty, librarians, and students can then search for a text using the Syllabus Explorer tool to see a list of other works assigned alongside that text and discover its “Teaching Score” – a score developed by the team to reflect how frequently a text is assigned. While this tool is useful for university instructors considering what to include on their own syllabi, it also provides insight for anyone interested in examining trends in scholarship and higher education. Open Syllabus team members David McClure and Joe Karaganis noted in a recent New York Times article about the site’s launch, “Teaching captures a very different set of judgments about what is important than [scholarly] publication does.” The Open Syllabus Project provides insight into what faculty judge important to teach to undergraduate students.
ScienceOpen: Launched in 2014, ScienceOpen is more than just an open access journal. Rather, this publishing network strives to facilitate open and public communication by connecting scientists, encouraging collaboration, and facilitating open-source peer review. To this end, ScienceOpen employs a unique “post-publication peer review process” that allows researchers to publish papers after a brief, one-week general review. This serves to ensure that the research meets basic ethics requirements. Once published, other researchers can provide feedback to authors. The original authors, in turn, are invited to post revised versions of their papers. ScienceOpen currently hosts almost 15,000,000 articles, which visitors may browse by discipline. In addition, ScienceOpen editors have compiled collections of articles by topic. Researchers are also invited to create a personal profile in order to participate in public forums with peers.