Wednesday, December 17, 2008

NSF proposal: Crowdsourcing Chemistry and Modeling using Open Notebook Science

On December 8, 2008 I submitted the pre-proposal "Crowdsourcing Chemistry and Modeling using Open Notebook Science" with Rajarshi Guha and Antony Williams to the NSF CDI program.

Last year we submitted to the same initiative and the reviewer comments were positive for the most part. The main criticism was the lack of a more fully developed computational component. I think we've addressed that this year by including Rajarshi and his plans to carry out modeling of the non-aqueous solubility data and Ugi reaction optimization.

We also have the ONS Challenge in place and the sponsorship by Submeta, Nature and Sigma-Aldrich should help.

I posted the PDF version of the proposal on Scribd, linked to it from Noam Harel's SCIEnCE wiki and put up a text version on the ONSC wiki. In some ways proposals can be more important than papers to connect up collaborators and gain an appreciation of where science is headed. Ironically the only people to see proposals (the reviewers) are typically a research group's closest competitors. So making them public makes sense. It could also help funding agencies connect up with researchers.

I think it would be helpful to have a Web2.0 database of research proposals. The SCIEnCE project aims to do this but doesn't currently have a structured interface. I created a "Research Proposal" group on Scribd that is open for anyone to drop in proposals. That gives us the standard Web2.0 functionalities like commenting, visitor count, favorites, etc. One of the most convenient features of this strategy is that it provides an RSS feed for new submissions. I've added this feed to my FriendFeed account.

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At 6:53 PM, Blogger N.Y. Harel said...

Thanks for posting your ideas at the Wiki. I wish I could have been more active over the past few months - just too damn busy. Hope to spew out some more proposals soon though.

Looking forward to re-immersing in the Open Science community! Noam

At 8:11 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

JC, I think it would be valid to list the proposal on the ChemSPider Journal of Chemistry for feedback. If you agree please send the final form as a word document and i will publish it. Thanks

At 12:23 AM, Blogger Steve Koch said...

I completely agree about the irony of confidential research proposals mostly just being read by competitors. I would love to post my proposals for the public...scooping is not my main concern...mostly I just worry about how to get permission from my collaborators (and convince them). Have you noticed whether program managers would care one way or the other? What's your advice for an unfunded PI w/o tenure?

Also: I visited the Scribd site. I don't understand what it does. Why is it different than just uploading to a wiki somewhere?

Thanks for the great posts.

At 7:15 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Steve, I have come up against some resistance from UK programme managers just because of intertia issues (no-one has ever done it before - what do we do - do we have a policy ?!?) but mostly they get over that they seem happy enough. There is concern over posting financial information as it may provide enough information for people to be able to work out salaries which some people are sensitive about - so it pays to be careful. Don't know enough about US systems to know how people would react there though.

At 7:32 AM, Blogger Jean-Claude Bradley said...

Steve - I agree with Cameron's statement - I do not publish the budgets for any of the proposals that include salary info. But, yes you do need to get all collaborators to agree. Since I tend to collaborate with people who understand the value of openness that is usually not a problem.

Concerning Scribd, it is a place where you can upload a pdf (in addition to other files types) and make use of all the Web2.0 functionality. Think of it like YouTube for documents. People can make comments, rate, subscribe to an RSS feed, tag ,etc. All of that you wouldn't get from just uploading to a server.


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