Public Lab Research note

Thinking through Research Area Reviews

by stevie | May 23, 2019 20:45 23 May 20:45 | #19506 | #19506


There’s a lot of information on topical areas of research on Public Lab, but it’s hard to understand “the current state of things.” For example, Public Lab has a lot of information on tools such as spectrometers, and areas of interest such as turbidity and water monitoring. However currently, we don’t have a clear process for synthesizing the existing material.


This issue is important because in our work we value, and should practice:

  • Transparency about what exists,
  • Openness about what we have, what we understand, and what we are working on,
  • Accessibility for those who wish to learn and/or become involved in the work,
  • Attribution for those who have helped to build knowledge in a topic area, and
  • Timeliness in committing to regularly iterate on topics the community identifies as important.


I’m interested in exploring processes and ideas for how to get closer the above goals. I’ll put forward a couple optional avenues in later posts in hopes to add to the conversation, but I’m really interested in hearing: what has worked for others when facing these challenges? What practices are helpful and sustainable? Reading the above, what advice do you have? Are there communities of practice that integrate systems we can learn from and carry over ideas? For example, the Public Lab Coding community onboards newcomers all the time bringing people into a complex system. Or research communities such as Caravan Studios who ran an interesting session like this last fall. The GOSH community? Others? Excited to hear your thoughts!

If you post new research notes on this I’ll be using the tag “Research-Area-Review” to pull everything together. Follow it, post ideas and ping people in!


How would this differ from wiki pages? Seems to me that the difficulty with wiki pages is keeping them up to date. That appears to be the problem with any attempt to synthesize information from a broad topic

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Agree! I think part of the process would include (or culminate in?) updating the wiki pages.

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Here's a post with a couple ideas on how we could go about something like this:

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