Old-school crowdsourcing: surveys for researchers made easy with socialsci

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Believe it or not, crowdsourcing in scientific research has been around for a while. Surveys, have been a great way for researchers to obtain large amounts of information about human behaviors. With the introduction of online surveys, researchers have never had easier access to participants for their surveys. But along with the anonymity of internet, comes risks of fake answers or repeated participation that can influence the studies’ outcome.

This might be changing with Socialsci, a startup located in Cambridge (Massachusetts, USA), offering online survey services, tailors for researchers.  In addition to quite standard survey-generation services, Socialsci guaranties academic-adapted prices (=low?) and high-quality participants. High-quality participants are assured by an internal quality control, where the answers to over a thousand different questions given by participants are monitored for consistency. That way, users making up answers will see their rating downgraded and their participation in other surveys will be less likely.

Here’ s little video found on their website summarizing this way better that I did: https://www.socialsci.com/. I’ve added this in the “Using the crowd section” of the “Online tools for researchers” list.

Online tools that help you share your data.

One important aspect of the open science movement, is making your research data more accessible than when formated in manuscripts (which are usually only the tip of an enormous iceberg of work and findings). The data can be slide presentations, data sets or figures for example. All are very rich in unpublished information. Several sites offer researchers to share such information:

I can see a number of different advantages to doing this.

  • Online sharing services help create a communities and form relationships.
  • Sharing protocols or workflows increases research efficiency, by favoring access to  expertise and avoiding reinvention.
  • Platforms for sharing data allow to share negative results and help combat the “positive result bias” in scientific publishing.
  • Finally, this is also increases your presence on the web for your personal promotion.

Of course in some scientific domains, sharing openly your data is discouraged because of strong competition or pressure to patent or publish first. But even if posted online years after the original publication, the data can still be valuable to the community.

Searching the pool of shared data is currently not an easy task. Although sites like SlideShare, OpenWetWare and FigShare are rather well indexed in by search engines, searching for specific information contained in the data might be more challenging for example. More specialized tools, like what the DataCite initative is offering,  that can efficiently index, organize and search through the shared data will clearly benefit the open data movement.