**"Research area reviews" are periods of time when we work together to grow and organize shared knowledge on a particular environmental topic at Public Lab.** Every three months, we cycle among the larger topics of air, water, land/soil, and organizing and advocacy. During that three month period, we pick a research area to focus on within the larger topic and collaboratively review it by asking and answering questions—_what knowledge exists on Public Lab and beyond? What gaps are there? What accessible methods and tools can be used to research this topic? What next step challenges are there in tool development? What questions and projects are communities addressing?_ We do this together through calls and posts on PublicLab.org.
By the end of the review period, the goal is to have gathered and synthesized resources on the research area so that they are as current as possible and useful to members of the Public Lab community. People visiting the website will have an idea of how to get started with community science in the topic area, and will also know where to fill in gaps with specific skills, knowledge, and lived experiences.
[Featured environmental topics on Public Lab are listed here](https://publiclab.org/topics). On a topic’s wiki page, you’ll find information on how to get started in research, tool development, and advocacy for that topic, and some next step challenges that remain. You’ll also find many ways to share your ideas, questions, and findings with the Public Lab community.
Visit the [research area review tag page](https://publiclab.org/tag/research-area-review) to see the latest review-related posts on Public Lab, and get updates on reviews by following the #research-area-review tag:
Follow Research Area Review
## Current research area review
Stay tuned for details on our next research area review running October through December 2021, **on a topic under air quality**.
If you’re interested in upcoming calls on other topics, check out the [monthly calendar of planned community calls on water, land/soil, and organizing and advocacy](https://publiclab.org/wiki/research-curation-fellows#Events+by+Research+Curation+Fellows) led by Public Lab Research Curation Fellows.
## Past research area review events and summaries
A key part of a research area review is getting together to talk and connect with each other on a topic and relevant tools! Below, you’ll find recordings from the most recent public events for a research area review, plus links to resources shared on the call and links to any summary posts.
### September 29, 2021: Wastewater research area review
_We’ll post a summary of the latest research area review on wastewater soon_, including what’s new on the Public Lab website. To wrap up the review, we had a “Wastewater Week” of sorts and held a series of events on wastewater and stormwater community science.
#### Presentation on wastewater community science methods & group discussion
First up, **we summarized new resources on wastewater community science on the Public Lab website.** There are several new activities for people wanting to investigate wastewater and stormwater pollution in their communities, ranging from observing and reporting pollution to sampling and detecting suspected pollution.
After the presentation, @alejobonifacio led a conversation where people spoke about the research and teaching they’re engaged in around environmental health and water quality.
**Resources shared on the call:**
+ Coliscan Easygel for relatively inexpensive E. coli monitoring: https://www.weberscientific.com/coliscan-easygel-media-micrology-laboratories.
+ Light sensor possibly for a DIY luminometer: https://www.amazon.com/Gowoops-Digital-Intensity-Detection-Photosensitive/dp/B01N1FKS4L
+ Public Lab resources referred to during the presentation:
+ New wiki page for wastewater, https://publiclab.org/wiki/wastewater, and especially this getting-started section with new activities
+ New wiki page outlining methods for detecting potential wastewater pollution: https://publiclab.org/wiki/detecting-wastewater
+ Brief feedback form for anyone who participated in the research area review and wants to share their thoughts or receive updates! https://survey.alchemer.com/s3/6462091/RAR-Wastewater
#### Guest speakers: Community scientists doing wastewater monitoring
**Xose Quiroga (@imvec) and Alejo Bonifacio (@alejobonifacio) each spoke about their projects documenting and monitoring wastewater pollution.**
**Resources shared on the guest speaker call:**
+ IMVEC website → https://imvec.tech
+ Tools website → https://regist.ro
+ Underground soil sampling method → https://regist.ro/?underground
+ The Colors Mountain → https://ThecolorsMountain.org
+ HoraAbierta de Autodefensa Medioambiental → https://fediverse.tv/c/haam/videos
+ Social media ↓
#### Live build: DIY community microscope & observing aquatic life
And last but not least! **Public Lab Research Curation Fellows @fongvania and @alejobonifacio showed us how to build a DIY dissecting microscope and how to use it to observe aquatic life for water quality comparisons.**
You can find community microscope kits in the Public Lab store [here](https://store.publiclab.org/collections/featured-kits/products/microscope?variant=8179759612011). Also check out the instructions we follow in this instructional video for [building the microscope stage](https://publiclab.org/n/20703) and [setting up the microscope camera](https://publiclab.org/n/21185) (which serves as the lens).
**Resources shared during the live build:**
+ General information on Public Lab’s community microscope: https://publiclab.org/wiki/micro
+ Alejo’s activity on observing aquatic life as bioindicators of water quality: https://publiclab.org/notes/alejobonifacio/09-03-2021/como-evaluar-la-calidad-de-un-rio-con-insectos-acuaticos-bioindicadores-how-do-i-assess-the-quality-of-an-river-with-aquatic-insects-bioindicators
### Research area review archive
**[Click here for an archive of the research area reviews listed below](https://publiclab.org/wiki/reviews-archive), including video recordings and all links shared on the call.**
#### June 30, 2021: Mapping for organizing & advocacy research area review
[Click here to see this review in the archive](https://publiclab.org/wiki/reviews-archive#June+30,+2021:+Mapping+for+organizing+&+advocacy+research+area+review)
#### March 31, 2021: Soil contamination research area review
[Click here to see this review in the archive](https://publiclab.org/wiki/reviews-archive#March+31,+2021:+Soil+contamination+research+area+review)
#### December 16, 2020: Air quality research area review
[Click here to see this review in the archive](https://publiclab.org/wiki/reviews-archive#December+16,+2020:+Air+quality+research+area+review)
#### September 23, 2020: Microplastics research area review
[Click here to see this review in the archive](https://publiclab.org/wiki/reviews-archive#September+23,+2020:+Microplastics+research+area+review)
## Who does research area reviews?
**Anyone can help with a research area review!** As the research coordinator at Public Lab, [@bhamster](https://publiclab.org/profile/bhamster) organizes and runs a regular cycle of reviews to make sure we’re keeping our topic areas up-to-date. If you’re interested in helping out or offering ideas, please get in touch by [leaving a comment on this post](/notes/stevie/05-24-2019/idea-to-distribute-tasks-for-a-reserach-area-review).
## What happens during a review?
**Currently, research area reviews involve:**
+ Choosing a topic to review.
+ People with interest in or experience with the topic contributing and shaping the review by:
+ Posting or answering questions
+ Sharing knowledge in research notes
+ Relating experiences and stories in conversations and community calls
+ Documenting methods and tools and their uses
+ Digging deeper into leads from conversations by gathering information and resources from beyond Public Lab.
+ Organizing and synthesizing materials from Public Lab and beyond, covering methods and tool development; community stories and projects; relevant regulations, policy, and advocacy; next step challenges.
+ Updating the topic’s wiki page and creating new wikis and research notes.
+ Hosting an open online event to share highlights from the review, exchange stories and questions, and to welcome all to get involved with the topic whether they are newcomers or seasoned researchers.
+ Writing up summaries of events and the review.
The review process outlined above built upon previous thinking on research area reviews ([here](https://publiclab.org/notes/stevie/05-23-2019/thinking-through-research-area-reviews) and [here](https://publiclab.org/notes/stevie/05-24-2019/idea-to-distribute-tasks-for-a-reserach-area-review?)), which can also be broken down into more distinct phases and distributed tasks in the following way:
_Phase 1: Information Gathering_
In Phase 1, the goal is to sift through and update all the existing resources on PublicLab.org related to a topic. This could include checking in on other projects' updates as well, and if there's been a previous review, that's also a great place to start.
_Phase 2: Convening_
Phase 2 involves hosting an [Open Call](/opencall) to bring folks together, to go through the collected materials from Phase 1, identify gaps and plan next steps.
_Phase 3: Synthesizing_
In Phase 3, the notes from the call and the newly collected materials, shared goals, and tasks are organized and shared on PublicLab.org, tying the review together in a single post.
This table gives more details on the tasks and can serve as a template to organize the phases of a more distributed research area review:
Phase|Task Type|Who can do this|Difficulty|Task|I'll do this!
1|Garden|Anyone|Easy|Go through posts in the area and make sure they are properly tagged|LINK
1|Share|Anyone|Easy|Post questions on the topic area you have, or that you’re not able to find answers to on Public Lab.| LINK
1|Garden|One person|Medium|Make sure the wiki page has clear format|LINK
1|Research|Anyone|Hard|Help find answers to unanswered questions |LINK
1|Facilitate|Anyone|Hard|Invite, listen to, and record new stories related to the topic |LINK
2|Share|Anyone|Easy|Attend the open topic call and collaborate |LINK
2|Facilitate|One person|Medium|Host the public online meeting for group to collaborate to: Highlighting findings, ID gaps in available resources, highlight challenges in this research area |LINK
3|Synthesize|Anyone|Hard|Review existing material and call summary and write an update post on it with materials gathered |LINK
3|Research|One person|Hard|Follow up on gaps identified from the group and post materials to help support information around those gaps. |LINK
## Want to talk about a topic outside a research area review?
**Join us for an Open Call**, hosted every Tuesday at 12 pm PT / 3 pm ET. These informal calls are a great way to connect with Public Lab community members on projects, ideas, and questions. [You can find more info on Open Call and how to join here](https://publiclab.org/wiki/open-call).
Come to a call specifically on the **topic of water, air, land/soil, or organizing and advocacy**. These community calls are hosted throughout the year by Research Curation Fellows. [Check here for a monthly calendar of planned calls](https://publiclab.org/wiki/research-curation-fellows#Events+by+Research+Curation+Fellows).
And you can learn more about **other kinds of Public Lab events** and check out our events calendar here: [publiclab.org/events](https://publiclab.org/events)