IGoR vs troublesome mad scientists.

Posted on 12 Nov 2014 18:10 by Mickey von Dassow

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IGoR is perfectly fine with users making monsters, hopeful or otherwise1, as long as they follow the highest standards of academic ethics while doing so. But how can users avoid bad behavior by others while using IGoR?

Avoiding crackpottery:

One goal of IGoR is to help more people learn how to do science, and most of us probably hold some unexamined, unscientific ideas, at least in areas outside our expertise. That's fine as long as those ideas can be turned into something testable, and we're willing to reject them if the evidence contradicts them. However, there are those who reject any evidence or argument that goes against their ideas, and they often talk the most. If you start a project page on IGoR, what is to stop it from getting taken over by pseudoscience or trolls?

Although being open to all is the default, people who post projects can create more restrictive policies for them. This gives users more control over who can contribute to their project page. As a group forms around a project page, contributors can negotiate policies that suit the group. Policies that are open to more varied users should help one find more diverse collaborators; but users can choose the level of openness they are comfortable with.

If someone makes unwanted changes to a user's (or a group of users') page, project participants can revert back to a previous version of the page. If someone repeatedly violates the policies the group sets, or persists in causing problems, moderators can evict that person from IGoR.

Maintaining control of intellectual property:

Unfortunately, there are also people who claim other people's ideas as their own, or use other people's intellectual property without credit or permission. This may be only an irritation for some, but to career scientists, lost credit and publications can mean a lost career. So, how can you main control of your intellectual property in an open environment?

The easy solution comes from the fact that the primary purpose of the IGoR wiki is to get collaborations off the ground by helping users find other people with complementary abilities and interests. Users can share only what they want to share to demonstrate what they can contribute to a project. Once a group forms around a project, participants can communicate sensitive information privately. Users who are open with ideas and results will more effectively show that they have something to add, but that might be a summary graph, rather than a full data set2.

Summary

You decide what to share, and you can create policies for your pages. This means you can maximize the benefits of inviting people outside your network to collaborate or provide feedback. In many ways, it's like sharing a poster at a conference, but a conference where anyone can stop by at any time, and can demonstrate what they can contribute.

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