Sunday, April 15, 2012

Open science Wikis

Wikis are a great tool for facilitating open science through ease-of-use and transparency in the conduct of research studies. Wikis allow real-time updating, archived recording of changes over time, and the general ease of information flow in the digital era. In the health arena, wikis are being used to empower health-self management. One example is the DIYgenomics wiki which is used to operate crowdsourced health research studies. Two key activities are open deliberation regarding study protocols and data results.

1) Open Study Protocols
– wikis can be used to post and continuously update study design protocols. Study advisors, ethicists, potential funders, organizers, participants, press, and any other interested parties may review and give input in an open format. Two current examples of study protocols under development are a Quantified Self-tracking Diabetes study and a Social Genomics study (e.g.; linking personal genomic profiles to empathy, altruism, optimism).

2) Open Data Results
– wikis can be used for study participants to log and discuss data results. For example, in one study looking at genomic mutation and Vitamin B deficiency, all data was tracked via wiki. Study participants were asked to post their genomic data and blood test results to the study wiki page as they came arrived. Separate validations were carried out from the underlying PDF copies of the lab test results, but anyone could follow the ongoing study results in real-time from the wiki edits. Later, the data collected in the wiki tables was easy to convert to the form needed for scientific journal publication.

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