Wednesday, June 26, 2013

A Simple Idea for Collaborative Academic Research

With the rapid dissemination of medical information, global reach of the internet, and realization that more print journals doesn't mean better print journals, today's researchers use a variety of techniques to connect but most, sadly, have not kept pace with the times.

Yesterday, watching the nightly news, I saw something that caught my eye.  It came during a story about yet another shooting in Chicago.  The usual folks were interviewed by the media: distraught family members, friends, and eye witnesses to the crime.  One of the witnesses seemed intelligent, articulate, and surprisingly insightful and there, below his name on screen, was his Twitter handle.

Imagine how researchers could connect if Twitter accounts were added to their author lines in journal articles or next to their e-mail address in the article's contact information section.  Like-minded researchers could instantly connect, follow colleagues with similar interests, or message them questions.  Private conversations could continue via direct messaging or e-mail in follow-up.  Such a system would easily connect like-minded scholars as well as promote an individual's work.  Just as TV stations, news organizations, professional scientific organizations and the entertainment world have embraced the trend, so too should our stodgy academic world.

And why not?

After all, everyone's looking for research funding these days.

Who knows?  Good scientific work might just have a chance of receiving funds from the most unlikely of sources thanks to social media.



Unknown said...

Absolutely agree! Great idea. I look forward to the day researchers embrace Twitter the way physicians have--using it for knowledge discovery and creating communities of practice--but also using Twitter to identify potential collaborators for shared grants. What if grants had hashtags, and applicants could see each other and strategize how to collaborate within the grant instead of competing for limited funds? Huge potential for innovation there.
Thanks for a stirring post!

Debra Madden said...

Dr. Wes, this is an absolutely fantastic idea that would undoubtedly lead to truly innovative research and powerful collaborations between investigators who bring different strengths to applications. I'd also suggest that this would be a wonderful way to connect and collaborate with educated research advocates to develop clinical research protocols as well as basic research that truly focus on answering those questions of most import to patients.

Debra Madden
Blog: "Musings of a Cancer Research Advocate" at