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Use of Digital Tools and Infrastructure Across the Research Cycle

Use of Digital Tools and Infrastructure Across the Research Cycle are presented in this video by Clemens Blümel.

The use of digital tools may allow for increased collaboration at every step or phase of the research cycle, that is the process of generating and configuring knowledge in academia.

Ideation phase

The ideation phase is focused towards the development of research questions. Increasingly, tools for searching and managing literature have changed the way that researchers collect research and generate ideas from existing research. Tools like Zotero allow researchers to collaborate with each other in this phase by means of sharing literature references, which may take place also in larger contexts outside the confined space of projects. Moreover, reference management systems like Mendeley allow for gaining more information about which research has been chosen by other researchers in similar situations. This may result in the ideation phase becoming much more networking oriented, as feedback and requests functions are also integrated in the functionalities of reference management. Exchange about research questions can also take place using platforms for sharing presentations, such as Slideshare. These resources show which kinds of questions were asked and how they were tackled.

Instrument development

The phase of instrument development can also be supported by digital tools for collaborative organization. Tools like Zenodo may be used in this phase, as the data base also stores, research designs, questionnaires, and experimental plans some of which are discussed on the forum. For instance, survey items are often shared on Zenodo. Open Science activists make often use of platforms or sites for online instrument development. The non-governmental and community run platform Open Science Framework, for instance provides tools for knowledge organization and instrument development. Particularly in the Open Source community, GitLab and GitHub are often used to make the development of resources and contributions transparent to others.

Data generation and quality assurance

Collaboration in data generation is also supported technically. Data collection can be supported technically by means of crowdsourcing contributions relying on large platforms such as the Amazon mechanical Turk. In the case of the citizen science project Galaxy zoo, data collection and publishing was organized via the community run platform zooniverse. OSF Framework also supports collaboration by allowing users to share data via a unique identifier and make the evolution of instrument development transparent via a version control system for instrument development. After completion of data generation, scholars can make use of a large number of repositories for their data, which are often documented and typified. Some of these repositories are community run, such as DataCite.

Data analysis

Also the process of data analysis can be supported by collaborative digital tools. For qualitative social science research, we even find methods for collaborative coding and interpretation of qualitative data. A team of researchers developed a prototype of what they called “Open Online Research” (OOR) that allowed citizens, scholars, and laymen to collaboratively engage in generating code by “clustering similar interpretations”. According to its developers, it allows them to bring in different perspectives and enables truly collaborative interpretation processes (Bröer et al., 2016).

Dissemination phase:

The dissemination phase may also involve digital tools that enhance collaboration. For instance, large academic networks, such as academia.edu and ResearchGate allow for providing feedback before and after scholarly articles are published. Research can request full texts if they are not freely accessible. Scholars are particularly engaging in making their research outputs visible, leading to various tools that support researchers in engaging others with their research, such as ImpactStory. Collaborative tools for establishing and curating knowledge stock such as Wikipedia may also be related to this phase. As all of these activities take place on digital platforms many of these activities are monitored automatically by the platform providers.

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Openness in Science and Innovation

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