Research Collaboration Platforms? - (Nov/04/2012 )
My primary research background is in Psychology, and one of my key frustrations in this field was the following:
1- How can I find the best experts in my specific field in order to get their guidance on an important study?
2- How can I determine who is ALREADY working on a similar project, and so pool ideas, concepts, and best practices from them?
3- How can I find experts, grad students, and resources from outside of my university to work together with me on a project of common interest (in order to make a more robust and meaningful study)?
In Psych, there is no such platform that I ever learned about... and it was kinda frustrating (I just see so much potential with great connectivity).
Is there a platform like this in the BIO world? How might you answer the questions above?
All the best, back to research!
As far as I am aware there isn't any fully functional platform for this sort of thing, other than some ad hoc sites like openwetware.org, which are more about free hosting of information. Some well known genes and organisms have central pages that are run by certain groups and used as a sort of central repository for data, but these are few and far between.
The easiest way to find out the big names in the field is to read papers and look at the authors, it won't take you long to find out who's names are repeating.
Finding out what people are specifically working on is difficult - mostly because of the "publish or perish" model of funding, where if you don't publish (in good journals original papers, not just "me too" ideas, you don't get funding - so people tend to keep the exact area a bit of a secret, though most groups will have themes that can be easily folllowed by... reading papers!
Some of the social networks with more professional direction such as linkedin or xing might work for this, but as I'm not a member others might add some more info how to do it. The same is true for Bioforum and its competitors; I've no idea which is the best for this, but Bioforum is of course worth a try, too .
And I also would agree that you first you have to find out which persons might be relevant and have interest and then you can contact them directly e.g. by email, visit them if there is sufficient need or meet them at a conference...Such scientists also can give you information about other groups or scientists that might be helpful or good cooperation partners.
Mostly personal connections, read-paper connection, conference connections.. and you never know when someone from a country and lab you never heard about starts asking you questions about a project you only planned to do, suggesting they already were trying that unsucessfully
That's the reason why I think is very important to be known, present on conferences (yeah, not that easy.. you may try the smaller ones first), or at least present posters. My first poster on the biggest american conference in field and I was standing there ready to answer questions, with my colleague.. some people passed, dome were just reading, some asked, and after some time colleague ponted to the person just leaving my poster saying "now you've seen all of the the very top researchers that do this kind of disease". It was trully remarkable feeling. (of course they wouldn't remember.. until you actually present something interesting .. then suddenly there is a row of people that all want to meet you and ask questions, even those big names that were completely ignoring you before, although you've already met them.. )