Is there a single research forum anywhere?

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Chuck
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Is there a single research forum anywhere?

Post by Chuck »

I'm on several research-related (say, research plus) forums and the one thing they're good at is sharing, the thing they're ALL bad at is collating and collaborating. So I started looking, and couldn't find a single one on ANY topic that's half-way decent for research data sharing and collaboration. This isn't just entomology or nature, it's across the spectrum. I assume I missed some.

So I'm thinking, how WOULD one format a research-related forum? How would data be cross referenced (e.g., field reports xref to a specific study on Papilio troilus)?

I suppose it would be like Insectnet, a tree? And threads would be the research topic? Assume the thread starter would have to have moderator capability to delete off-topic junk?

Somebody will probably say iNaturalist, but in fact the research topic discussions are (seemingly intentionally) S.L.O.W. Or some may cite the Gibson guitar forum which all sorts of data posted, but it's pell-mell, and there's plenty of "I got a yellow one" posts.

So if it is possible, why isn't it done? Isn't it popular? I did find some websites that were data-based, with a forum (e.g. sailboatdata.com) with good basic data foundation, but the discussion forums- for all I found- were so slow as to be dead. It's almost as if humans prefer the Twitter psychology of knee-jerking a short blurb rather than read, think, ponder, study.

Can anyone point me to an online collaboration forum geared toward research?
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nomihoudai
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Re: Is there a single research forum anywhere?

Post by nomihoudai »

Could you please elaborate what you mean by research?

A lot of research is done on a professional level. In academia research tasks are well defined topics. They are not necessarily short and can take many years, but they are very well defined. Generally, you then end up with very few people or nobody being able to collaborate on that topic. The data is being shared in excel files or other online storages (also iNaturalist as one example). Discussions are done between individuals.

In broader terms there is fields of study. In a field you have conferences and stuff where people meet in person and discuss.

Ultimately this ends up in a 'publication', either in a journal, or arxiv.org. I love arXiv (I am a physicist by training), others don't like it.

For hobbyists they usually pick something that they are very fond of and go into great detail. In the end they sometimes come up with amazing monographies. I have a few books done by non-professionals which are amazing.
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Re: Is there a single research forum anywhere?

Post by Chuck »

nomihoudai wrote: Tue May 24, 2022 8:53 pm Could you please elaborate what you mean by research?
Making observations in order to reach a conclusion. Turning data into information.

In the case of web forum collaboration, this would mean having more narrowly defined topics to which others can contribute. And it means more aggressive moderation. And, rules. And, it facilitates more centralized and correct information for others' research/ inquiries.

Say, for example, one wants to know all of the ssp. of Ornithoptera victoriae and what they look like. And, one has the thought that they aren't all valid ssp. A google search will turn up hundreds of photos, but not even all victoriae, much less accurate account of ssp. Now, a "research" forum might have a single thread on this topic, with hundreds (?) of clearly identified photos. Minus the idiot replies like "that's nice!" and "here's my Ornithoptera goliath."

Perhaps web forums aren't cut out for this. That said, on one forum we have very specific threads under sub-forums (akin to as if insectnet had Lepidoptera > Ornithoptera > Victoriae) to which excellent data has been posted, allowing those that can find that thread to be educated and for researchers to find the data they need. On this point though, it takes a committed pool of members to be self-policing and put ONLY relevant info into those threads, and the moderators have to delete random junk that new people and idiots put in there.
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Re: Is there a single research forum anywhere?

Post by wollastoni »

I am afraid a web forum is not well cut for that indeed.

Static websites with multiple authors is a better way to achieve that. As we did on delias-butterflies.com where all known subspecies and forms of this huge genus have been documented. An example for Delias autumnalis: https://www.delias-butterflies.com/spec ... autumnalis
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Re: Is there a single research forum anywhere?

Post by Jshuey »

The answer is nope - a forum would not work for what you are searching for. Static sites are great for nomenclature, identifications and such, as long as they are well maintained. Take a look at the Butterflies of America website as an example of one that is falling behind the times. It has not been maintained for a few years, and there are now hundreds of new species are missing. It's also worth noting that these lists are "opinions" of the web page authors, and others may not agree with species and or subspecies that they choose to recognize.

Research is dynamic - and there are tow places that provide pretty easy access to knowledge. Google Scholar is the best, and if a pdf of a paper is available, it will link to the source file. Research Gate is also great, in that you can ask authors to send you a copy of papers that are not otherwise available.
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Re: Is there a single research forum anywhere?

Post by adamcotton »

BHL https://www.biodiversitylibrary.org/ has many pre-1924 works available for download.

Also many German language journals are available here https://www.zobodat.at/publikation_series.php

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Re: Is there a single research forum anywhere?

Post by Chuck »

Well, thanks guys.

I remember the advent of "serious" internet, and the HTML. "We'll have the world of knowledge at our fingertips!" we thought. No so fast. Such as shame the internet is wasted on entertainment and jibberish. We're more likely to find our identity stolen than find a way to collaborate on something useful.
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Re: Is there a single research forum anywhere?

Post by wollastoni »

As said, you can collaborate on a static website to do so.
For the Delias website, I think that above 100 insect collectors have contributed to the current result !
Of course, these websites need a serious and motivated owner.
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Re: Is there a single research forum anywhere?

Post by nomihoudai »

From 2017 to 2018 I was working on a program that had a different purpose, but would have covered the use case you mentioned, TaxonBench.

The goal was to simplify the publishing process. I wanted people to be able to get large collections of images and data onto a public website and make it look like a book. TaxonBench would create and host the website automatically from some bulk data upload. I was selling hosting and storage space. This would have lowered the cost for field guides and monographies substantially. I also wanted to build up a print on demand service to make the eBooks created availabel in a printed form.

A sub idea of the whole thing would have allowed private collectors to keep a database of their collection, and others could have requested access to their images in exchange for royalties. People also were able to join and gather into groups to work on specific topics.

Long story short, I tried to get museums interested in it first as they are much bigger but I wasn't able to get a deal through. They either had too much red tape or too much bias when talking about the cloud. I had a working prototype, but back in the day it would cost a 4-figure sum per year to keep it running. The entomology department at the British Museum even invited me for a seminar but they couldn't sign a deal with their internal data team.

After having spend 5-figures (yes, 5) but not making a break-through with the program I put it on hold and got a job elsewhere.

Now 4 years later the internet has evolved and a few interesting things have emerged. The best part is that the running costs have been lowered substantially. While I couldn't afford to let the first version of TaxonBench run idle, I can rewrite it with this new technology and maybe give it another try.

I'm about to start a 3-week collecting trip tomorrow. If anyone is interested in hearing more drop me a message.

p.S. my at the time competitor was scratchpads. It's free, but back in the day it was an abomination and they also never became very popular: https://scratchpads.org
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Re: Is there a single research forum anywhere?

Post by 58chevy »

This James Dip character needs to be banned from the forum and his posts deleted.
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Re: Is there a single research forum anywhere?

Post by adamcotton »

58chevy wrote: Wed Jun 01, 2022 7:11 pm This James Dip character needs to be banned from the forum and his posts deleted.
Sorry for the delays, I only just logged on. He is toast and all his posts have been deleted. wollastoni has apparently managed to prevent spambots from registering and posting filth, but unfortunately it is very difficult to allow people to register without spammers also doing the same.

Adam.
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