Saturday, July 17, 2010

Collaboration 2.0

ITEA2 Research Project OSAMI: Logo
Information technology is letting people around the world come together in unprecedented ways. Wikis, blogs and microblogs like twitter, crowdsourcing and crowd-task-solving sites continue to flatten the planet.
Scientific innovation used to be a very private endeavor, with narrowly specialized scientists delving deeply into specific research areas.  The Internet changed some of this giving rise to Wikipedia  - now orders of magnitude larger than the Encyclopedia Britannica, and similar wiki resources for gene annotations, RNA libraries, radiology images, open-source software and other content.
 
Science funding agencies may appear to be crowdsourcing solutions too - as they employ broad calls for proposals and utilize peer reviews to evaluate the proposed ideas. Their models , however, are not very effective in triggering societal impacts. They impede collaboration in many ways as the researchers are not truly working together and the feedback is not constructive. Reviewers are experts but not direct stakeholders of  proposed projects . They add management overhead (Latour, 1996).

One may argue that science is highly competitive and will always be driven by egos and desire for personal vs collective success. Yet, as Johnston and Hauser note, these very human needs could be met by more efficiently designed open source models, extending beyond snapshots of consensus,  enabling to capture specific contributions of each participant and  permanent record of the life history of the project from conception to completion.

The ease of discovery declines every year - scientists have to search for smaller asteroids, heavier chemical elements and more complicated connections. This has to be matched with either exponential increase in the number of scientists or more innovative collaboration.

People take pleasure in synchronized activities - such as singing or marching together, folding proteins or syncing their brains in a conversation.  Could scientists have meaningful conversations on unimaginable scales, conversations including citizen scientists and people whose health needs could be solved by science?
Some researchers are already using help from crowds collecting their donations to support research - like the recently started open-source research project to develop cure for neglected tropical disease schistosomiasis.
Or the Open Source PCR project supported by the public.

Recent call for collaboration asked for a framework to exchange and disseminate information,  produce guidelines and summarize finding for Participatory health research (PHR) addressing local health issues. Government agencies are using twitter and expect crowds to supply epidemiological metrics to test health policy efficacy.
Meanwhile, many are already utilizing google docs in the quest for collaborators and exchange of ideas. See for example this Folder of Useful Google Docs including:

Or check this call for collaborations in the microbiome and metabolome spaces, to solve neglected medical conditions.

Scientists, let's unite and start collaborating in even more creative ways!

ResearchBlogging.org


References 

Johnston SC, & Hauser SL (2009). Crowdsourcing scientific innovation. Annals of neurology, 65 (6) PMID: 19562693 
Wright MT, Roche B, von Unger H, Block M, & Gardner B (2010). A call for an international collaboration on participatory research for health. Health promotion international, 25 (1), 115-22 PMID: 19854843

Auer S, Braun-Thurmann H. Towards bottom-up, stakeholder-driven research funding — open science and open peer review: Available at:  http://www.informatik.uni-leipzig.de/~auer/publication/OpenScience.pdf.  Accessed May 21, 2009 

Lawrence PA (2009) Real Lives and White Lies in the Funding of Scientific Research. PLoS Biol 7(9): e1000197. doi:10.1371/journal.pbio.1000197


Marsh A, Carroll D, & Foggie R (2010). Using collective intelligence to fine-tune public health policy. Studies in health technology and informatics, 156, 13-8 PMID: 20543334 

Huss JW 3rd, Lindenbaum P, Martone M, Roberts D, Pizarro A, Valafar F, Hogenesch JB, & Su AI (2010). The Gene Wiki: community intelligence applied to human gene annotation. Nucleic acids research, 38 (Database issue) PMID: 19755503 

Latour, B. 1996. Aramis, or, The love of technology Harvard University Press, Cambridge, Mass 
Butler, D. (2010). Open-source science takes on neglected disease Nature DOI: 10.1038/news.2010.50
Facebook page, Just giving fundraiser page


Scientific collaboration: 
Idea Generation and Solving:

Crowd-Task-Solving and Freelance

  • World4brains, collaboration instead of competition for best ideas, advice and solutions - innovative payment system rewards all valuable input given
  • TaskRabbit,  linking over-stretched consumers with runners for errands, tasks and other to-do’s
  • oDesk - global marketplace for remote work
  • Elance - freelance marketplace
  • Guru - freelance community
  • Ki Work - sourcing online work
  • Amazon Mechanical Turk - micro-task crowdsourcing
  • HumanGrid - small online tasks solving
     

Crowd-Funding

     

    12 comments :

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    3. I would like to add our company to the list, another great crowd-sourcing example, http://world4brains.com , an automated Global Consulting and Innovation Think Tank.

      Hundreds of well-credentialed consultants and accomplished innovators from around the world and across all required expertise categories simultaneously collaborate with each other and contribute their best ideas, advice and solutions to your problems. Or give you constructive and honest feedback plus access to the sharpest brainstorming partners. And if need be we'll find you solutions for fair conflict resolution.

      with kind regards,
      Tatiana Andrushko

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