Wednesday, 27 March 2013

Documenting negative results and project information

Allow me to crowd-source for a moment, as I attempt to take advantage of my modest Twitter and blog following.

Back in January, a small collection of waterfowl researchers organized a side meeting at a conference. What brought us together was that our research incorporates the same large database. At the meeting, we decided to put some effort into a collaborative network.

We proposed four goals of this network, but I'll only be discussing two of them here.

First, we'd like to develop  a systematic way to document our "failed analyses" and share that information with the group. The idea here is to avoid re-inventing the wheel. How many times have we all tried the same analysis, only to find that it just doesn't work with the information provided in the database?

Second, we'd like to collect and store information on ongoing research, with the intent to facilitate collaboration and information-sharing.

I've volunteered to create two forms that will collect information necessary to accomplish these two goals.

Here's where you come in. I'd like you, my reader(s), to check out my forms (they're brief, I promise!) and provide some comments, either here or on the docs themselves. What other information should I be asking researchers, either about their general research program or about their specific negative results? Are my questions ambiguous? Too specific?

Feel free to also leave general comments about what information you record when you're documenting negative results. NextScientist has a post about why it's important to document our scientific mistakes. While it's more specific to lab-based work, the general principles still stand.

Thanks y'all.

Negative Results: Here's my current set of questions.
Principal Investigator:
Objective/Leading question:
Hypotheses, if any:
What information did you use from the database?
What ancillary data did you use, including links?
Focal species:
Geographic area:
Provide a few details of your analysis:
Results - what did you find?
Obstacles - why do you think the analyses didn't work?
What additional information might be necessary for the analyses to work, if any?
Conclusions, implications, and additional commentary:
Any relevant references:
Negative results form. - Google Doc

Project Information: Here's my current set of question.
Your name and affiliation
Your collaborators
General research focus
Research goals and projects using the database (enumerate different projects, and mention collaborators for each)
Obstacles you've encountered (won't necessarily be included in your online profile)
Additional information and/or data you'd like to see within the database (won't be included online)
Research areas you're interested in pursuing (e.g. potential for collaboration)
Other comments
General project information form. - Google Doc

The layout of the Waterfowl Breeding Population and Habitat Survey. 

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