Ways to use IGoR to start collaborations.

Posted on 11 Feb 2015 17:46 by Mickey von Dassow

I started IGoR largely because I wanted an easy way to find people outside my personal network who could collaborate with me to help me solve problems in my research. Quite often I either don't know people with some set of skills I need, or the people I know are too involved in other things to help. Sometimes, one doesn't even know what new skills or ideas would help. For example, maybe one's focused on talking to Ph.D. biologists, when an artist or mechanic might know a better way to make something you want1.

A primary goal for IGoR is to build a community of people with diverse skill sets, resources, scientific interests, and experience levels. That way people can put research questions and ideas out there, and other people can find their Project page (or Article or Spark), and participate in answering those questions, or fleshing out those ideas. One can build a group based on a shared interest, rather than depending on one's social network. A loose group of users, interested in a Project or Article page, can coalesce into a deeper collaboration.

But how could one form collaborations using IGoR in practice?
These are some possibilities I envision:

  • Participate in projects/articles: People who consistently participate in a page will show up as frequent commenters or editors (visible in the page history). Some people (possibly even the page's creator) may do a bit of work on the page and then go on to other things, but persistent participants will see each others' work and skills, and can join together into collaborations. These groups could stay on IGoR, or move to another platform or offline, depending on the group's needs.
  • Leave comments: Leave comments on a page to create/join discussions and find people you might want to collaborate with in the future.
  • Create a Project, Article, or Spark page: Let people know about something you're interested in. Then other users who have overlapping interests may find you.
  • Find contacts: The page history tab shows the usernames of people who edited the page, and comments show the username of the comment writer. The page history tab also lets you see what they changed. Then if you like, you could leave a comment asking the user to contact you (be aware they may not see your comment soon if they aren't following the page using Page Watching).

One issue that people have asked about is: Who is the author of a page, and how does one contact them? Many pages will become a group effort, so there may be no single author, and no one "in charge"2. The page creator can share an idea, and leave it to grow on its own; so the current version of the page may have little resemblance to what they first wrote. For regular Project pages, the original page creator, or the group working on the page, can set their own policies, and say who to contact. If they don't say otherwise, the best ways to establish contact are to: 1) contribute to the page by editing it or adding new content, or 2) leave comments on the page.

Two tools help greatly in figuring out these kinds of issues. The page history tab shows the usernames of people who edited the page and when, and you can see what changes they made. The comment section shows who provided feedback via comments, and when. You can use these tools to see who made big changes or provided substantive suggestions. If a project grows towards something publishable, the group working on it should discuss authorship and roles among themselves.

Much of what I discussed here is also in the FAQs.

My next post will introduce Challenge projects, which should help career scientists use the site to solve problems in their research, and help non-scientists/hobbyists get participate in original and substantial research.

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