Wellcome Trust launches Mosaic – a new digital publication to explore the science of life
Today the Wellcome Trust is excited to launch its new online publication ‘Mosaic’, exploring the science of life. The Trust’s Head of Communications and Editorial Director of Mosaic, Mark Henderson, tells us what makes Mosaic stand out from the crowd, and why he feels now is the perfect time for open access science journalism…
First there was open source software, given away for anybody to download, use and share without charge. Then there was open access publishing, the movement to make the results of scientific research freely available to read without paying journal subscription fees. Today, the Wellcome Trust is launching a fresh experiment in open information, this time in science journalism.
Mosaic, our new digital publication devoted to long-form features about the science of life, is not only free for anybody to read. Its content is also freely available for anybody else to republish or share through their own publications and platforms.
Every week, we’ll publish a great long-form feature about an aspect of biology, medicine or the associated humanities, which aims to get behind a subject for a non-specialist audience. We’re commissioning some of the best science writers in the business – including Carl Zimmer, Rose George, Emily Anthes, Ed Yong and Virginia Hughes – to write about topics from reinventing the female condom to the rise of drug-resistant malaria. Then we’ll give their work away. Every word we publish is available for syndication under a Creative Commons licence, entirely free of charge. All that we ask is acknowledgement of the author, and of Mosaic as the source.
The Wellcome Trust is doing this because the media ecosystem is changing, in ways that create new opportunities for us to fulfil our mission. The Trust is dedicated to driving extraordinary advances in health, by supporting the best researchers in biology, medicine and the medical humanities, but also to exploring what this research means for society. Great writing, and film making, that sets research in context makes an important contribution to the engagement we want to foster between science and society. But as the digital revolution challenges traditional media business models, many outlets are cutting back on one kind of content we particularly value – in-depth journalism with the space to explain complex scientific subjects and set them in context.
At the same time, digital technology has broken down the barriers to producing and distributing this sort of content. It’s now practical for an organisation like the Wellcome Trust to commission writers and film makers directly. That’s the inspiration behind Mosaic. We’ll be paying journalists who know how to make complex subjects compelling, to tell the in-depth stories about science that too rarely find their way into the newspapers, and illustrating their work with exceptional photography.
We think our content is important, and we’d like it to reach the broadest possible audience. That audience might find our features on the Mosaic website – it’s a beautifully designed platform that makes long pieces of writing a pleasure to read. It’s also where we can display wonderful photography that helps to tell stories. But we will be just as happy if people find our content elsewhere, in the newspapers, magazines and websites they already enjoy.
That’s why we’re publishing all our words, and as many of our pictures as we can, under a Creative Commons licence – in most cases, the most liberal version, CC-BY. This publishing arrangement makes it simple for anyone else to take our content and republish it themselves. That applies to paid-for websites and magazines, not-for-profit initiatives, publications that are funded by advertising, and independent blogs: we want anyone who wants our content to have it.
We’ve already made arrangements with a few outlets that will be content partners, but more are always welcome. If you like the look of a feature and want it for your own website or magazine, please, just take it. That’s very much part of the deal.
Mosaic is published by the Wellcome Trust, but it emphatically isn’t about the Wellcome Trust. It isn’t a corporate magazine showcasing the Wellcome Trust’s achievements. We’ll cover the areas of research, principally around biology and medicine, which are covered by the Trust’s mission, but we will look at the most exciting stories wherever they come from. Sometimes, that’ll involve Trust-funded researchers, but very often it won’t. When we do cover research where the Trust has a direct interest, we’ll of course make that interest transparently clear. And when science raises controversy, we’ll aim to cover that fairly.
I’m really excited about the features Mosaic will be publishing over the coming months. I hope you’ll enjoy reading them.
Mark Henderson is Head of Communications at the Wellcome Trust and Editorial Director of Mosaic.
Mosaic is online now and you can get the latest news via the Mosaic Twitter and Facebook accounts. Launch stories include features on city cycling, female condoms, and Alzheimer’s. The Wellcome Trust supports open access publishing of content, including research. You can read our Open Access Policy on our website.