Five Researchers Helped by Science 2.0

Scientific research contains many characters familiar to anyone who has ever worked for long in a lab. I’ve identified 5 that can find substantial benefits using web 2.0 technologies

  1. The Innovators. These are the ones who are always trying something new, sometimes to the detriment of their own career. Their work is often ephemeral, as they move on to something else. Because of its novelty, they are already drawn to Web 2.0. However, these technologies can act as a repository of their work, permitting others to find the once easily lost work and build on it. If Mendel had been able to use Web 2.0, it would not have taken 40 years for his work to be discovered.
  2. The Technical Experts. These are the people who really know how to use a confocal microscope or really know the ins and outs of a cell sorter. They answer questions all day long about how to operate a piece of equipment. Moving their expertise onto a wiki by creating a simple FAQ means their days are not filled with having to answer questions they have already answered many times before.
  3. The Troubleshooters. These are the people who know a method inside and out. They are the ones whose expertise makes a procedure repeatable and who help others when the method does not work. They are the ones who spend a month remaking every buffer, changing every condition in order to identify the optimal conditions. Showing them how to create some SOPs for a wiki means that they can help more people solve problems and understand procedures without having to take time out of their day.
  4. The Connectors. These are the people that email a copy of a critical paper that turns out to enhance someone’s research because they knew it was of interest to that person.When someone comes back to the lab after being out of town for a week, these are the people they track down to find out what has been happening. Enhancing their natural tendencies with Web 2.0 approaches means that they can accomplish much more connecting over a wider social distance, while being less diverted from their own work..
  5. The Subject Matter Experts. These people hold a tremendous amount of knowledge in their heads and on their computers. They know how to get things done. This is information that can have huge impacts on what others accomplish. Making this knowledge searchable with Web 2.0 tools means that their influence increases because now everyone can find them easily.

Each of these 5 types benefit the organization by their actions. However, it is often hard for them to demonstrate this value. The metrics do not really exist to see the worth.

Web 2.0 tools help the individuals be more efficient, spending less time on repetitious things and helping enhance their reputation. And, because of the explicit nature of Science 2.0 approaches, these benefits, which are usually hidden from any sort of quantitative metric from the company, are now visible and measured.

This makes it much easier for the individual and the company to more accurately evaluate their worth. Even something as simple as page hits can provide valuabe information.

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