Take the 2-minute tour ×
Physics Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for active researchers, academics and students of physics. It's 100% free, no registration required.

the internet has changed science drastically. Not only in terms of distributing knowledge e.g. via online encyclopedias as wikipedia and freely available sources of publications as arXiv but also as a tool for communication through email and lively discussions in forums, newsgroups and communities like StackExchange.

Scientific success nowadays greatly depends on the ability to build up teams with different scientific background and experience. To my mind, the ideal researcher has to seek for people helping him to tackle parts of his problems in which he is not an expert instead of spending months on something, someone else could have been done in days.

So, can't we be this ideal researcher, or: Can a community on a webpage do research by openly presenting ideas and working them out? Or is this not possible due to "stealing" of ideas, lacking institutional structures and the like?

What do you think?

Robert

share|improve this question
3  
This MO question addresses the basic issues about collaboration. –  Marek Dec 3 '10 at 22:48
2  
@Robert: You probably need a clearly defined problems and some easier subtasks to start with, otherwise, there is a main person to solve problem and the other just offer 'little' help in which it should not be a community work. I would also be interested on how experiments can be tackled in days. –  hwlau Dec 4 '10 at 2:21
    
@Marek: Thank you for the link. Of course, sharing ideas in, say, business science can be a lot like politics. You can fiend inspiring collaborations or see your idea published by someone the next days. What is the case for "community research"? Isn't it much more safe since it is clear who formulated an idea first? @hwlau: I agree, one might not be able to tackle all kinds of problems in this setup in the first place. Do you think this would be possible, after such a community has formed somehow? –  Robert Filter Dec 4 '10 at 7:25
    
Nice question, but it clearly belongs on meta. :-) –  Sklivvz Dec 4 '10 at 10:55
    
@Sklivvz: no, this question is not about the site physics.SE but about physics. Well, about researches actually, but nonetheless I think this question belongs here –  Tobias Kienzler Dec 6 '10 at 9:43
show 1 more comment

2 Answers

up vote 5 down vote accepted

It's possible: see for instance the success of the various polymath projects http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Polymath_project#Polymath_Project

share|improve this answer
    
We have tried doing "Polystats" on CrossValidated.com, but it was a failure. –  mbq Dec 3 '10 at 22:46
1  
@mbq: Would you try to start a Polyphysics here :) –  hwlau Dec 4 '10 at 2:22
    
@Anthony Leverrier: Thanks for the info! Something like this is exactly what I meant. @hwlau: And this is exactly the question I am concerned. –  Robert Filter Dec 4 '10 at 7:05
    
@hwlau Well, to investigate what? Yet I think that there is an epsilon probability that something like Mpemba effect could rise from a site like this. –  mbq Dec 4 '10 at 17:31
1  
@mbq: I have no idea yet. The Mpemba effect you cited might be a fair one because everyone can do the experiments. It is harder for theoretical physics because it is difficult to gather a group of people with similar background for a topic. Currently, the community here is small and it may be a time to collect some topics. BTW: what is the reason that the "Polystats" fail? –  hwlau Dec 5 '10 at 5:41
show 2 more comments

Not quite an answer but in the same vein:

Many nuclear and high energy collaboration write papers in the name of the collaboration (and for that matter coordinate mostly over the intertubes). That is you'll see a paper by "the KamLAND collaboration". A list of the participants broken out by time can generally then be found in the collaboration's web space. This prevents the need for multiple page author lists.

share|improve this answer
    
Thank you for the information. The point is if "the KamLand collaboration" is a community project which might not be the case. Judging from the kamland.lbl.gov website it looks more like a professional one hosted by Berkeley. –  Robert Filter Dec 4 '10 at 7:08
1  
@Robert: This would be why this is "not quite an answer", but my point is that group authorship is an accepted notion at least on the experimental side of particle physics. As for KamLAND, it is a professional organization (or at least an organization of professionals), and derives it funding from the US and Japanese governments. If you wanted to assign it a "center" the best choice would probably be Tohoku University (UCB and LBNL are the largest part of the US contribution). –  dmckee Dec 4 '10 at 17:32
add comment

Your Answer

 
discard

By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.