A bunch of us at #scifoo this weekend realized we were reinventing wheels. We were each doing grass-roots research into ways to make science more efficient and effective. We were studying related topics in similar ways without knowing about each other… and we had lots of notes and lessons-learned to share.
Furthermore, we were gathering evidence about efficient and effective research methods and tools and practices but weren’t very hooked in to people and organizations who could run with these results and tools to help make a difference. For that matter, people in decision-making roles often don’t know we exist and that as investigators we want to hear from them and work with them and solve the same problems.
We decided we needed a community and a conference, tentatively dubbed Research for More Effective Research. Coincidentally, #scifoo is co-hosted by O’Reilly, and they actively want to hear about new conference ideas. We gave them a quick informal pitch. They were interested, and asked for a more detailed summary, including possible sponsors and sources of possible participants.
Here’s a first draft, pulled together quickly. Please help! I’ve certainly omitted groups, expressed things poorly, etc. It needs input from the community, so I’ve put the text up on this Open Google Doc. Please go here and add/edit/revise. I’ll repost the revised version here in a few days and send it to O’Reilly.
If you want to go on record as supporting this pitch please add your name to the Google doc (not necessary, just if you want).
The goal here isn’t to step on toes. If you know some other group with this mission, add it and raise it and let’s solve the problem together.
fwiw I’ve got energy to run with this draft and send the initial email to O’Reilly, but after that I need to bow out and work on previous commitments. This idea will need several additional champions to get off the ground. Speak up if that sounds like you!
Hmm, let’s start with a hashtag to build community. I’m bad at picking. Suggestions?
Research matters. Research fuels innovation, cures, understanding, and inspiration.
Unfortunately, our research systems haven’t kept up with changing culture and technology. Our structures, infrastructure, norms, and reward systems are not well aligned with efficient and effective research progress. There is a lot of room for improvement.
As people who believe in the power of research, we can fix this. We can study what would work better, and drive towards evidence-based policies and implementation.
This sort of “research for more effective research” is already being done in several scattered areas, but it suffers from a lack of broad community and infrastructure for action. Bringing together investigators, domain researchers, funders, publishers, educators, tool-builders, and experts in cultural change would allow exchange of methods, better understanding of which problems are most pressing, and support for making a difference.
We suggest an annual conference on “Research for more Effective Research” with tracks for discussion of Methods, Findings, and Implementation.
Topics could include, for example:
- time from discovery to publication
- publication bias
- peer review burden
- journal subscription cost
- availability of text, data, material for reuse
- diverse and broad participation
- next generation research output format
Many conferences, journals, and organizations have related goals and would likely be interested in the opportunity to partner with others for deep analysis and *implementation* of important policies, processes, and tools to make research more efficient and effective:
- Scientometrics: http://www.springerlink.com/content/0138-9130
- Research Policy: http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/journal/00487333
- ACM Web Sci http://www.websci11.org/
- ASIS&T http://www.asis.org/
A number of organizations might be interested in sponsoring such a conference. Many research publishers have taken an active interest in cutting edge improvements, including Nature, PLoS, and Elsevier. Funders, both government and charities, want the most research bang for their buck. Other companies have demonstrated they want to help meet research needs, including BMC, Mendeley, Thomson Reuters, Digital Science, F1000, Springer, and many others.
In summary, we think this is an opportunity for a conference that matters, in an area with a scattered community already working in the area, and support from stakeholders sponsors. We hope that O’Reilly — or someone else! — will help make this a reality.