"Research area reviews" are ways we work to grow and organize our shared information on a topic area on Public Lab. The goal is to synthesize and refresh resources on a topic (a.k.a. a research area) so that they are as current as possible and useful to the community. On a topic’s wiki page, you’ll find information on how to get started in research, tool development, and advocacy for a 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.
Featured topics on Public Lab are [listed here](https://publiclab.org/topics). 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 subscribing:
<a class="btn btn-primary btn-lg" href="https://publiclab.org/subscribe/tag/research-area-review">Subscribe to Research Area Review</a>
## Research area review events
A key part of a research area review is getting together to talk and connect with each other on a topic! Below, you’ll find recordings from the most recent public event for a research area review, plus links to resources shared on the call. As we review more topics and hold more events, we’ll add a link here to a research area review archive.
### September 23, 2020: Microplastics research area review
In this call that wrapped up Public Lab’s research area review on microplastics, twenty people spanning seven time zones gathered to talk about microplastics monitoring in their communities. We shared stories, asked and answered questions, saw a quick overview of accessible ways to get started in microplastics monitoring, and built connections with each other.
Joining us to share their experiences in microplastics research:
+ [Jace Tunnell](https://utmsi.utexas.edu/component/cobalt/item/9-marine-science/2603-tunnell-jace?Itemid=550), leader of [Nurdle Patrol](https://nurdlepatrol.org/Forms/Home/) and Director of the Mission-Aransas National Estuarine Research Reserve, University of Texas Marine Science Institute.
+ [Dr. Winnie Courtene-Jones](https://exxpedition.com/crew-member/winnie-courtene-jones/), Lead Scientist for the Round the World research missions at [eXXpedition](https://exxpedition.com/) and Research Fellow at the University of Plymouth, UK.
+ David Boudinot and Daniel Brendle-Moczuk of the University of Victoria and [Surfrider Foundation of Vancouver Island](https://vancouverisland.surfrider.org/solidified-oil-spill/).
Check out this [summary post of the event](https://publiclab.org/notes/bhamster/09-30-2020/summary-public-lab-s-microplastics-virtual-event) for more information on stories, questions, and topics that came up during the call, and this summary of the [microplastics research area review](https://publiclab.org/notes/bhamster/09-29-2020/summary-public-lab-s-microplastics-research-area-review) that led up to it.
<iframe width="560" height="315" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/FvyLAh33GIM" frameborder="0" allow="accelerometer; autoplay; clipboard-write; encrypted-media; gyroscope; picture-in-picture" allowfullscreen></iframe>
+ National Estuarine Research Reserves: https://oceanservice.noaa.gov/ecosystems/nerrs/
+ Nurdle Patrol: https://nurdlepatrol.org/Forms/Home/
+ How the Ocean Cleanup Array Fundamentally Misunderstands Marine Plastics and Causes Harm: https://discardstudies.com/2015/06/05/how-the-ocean-clean-up-array-fundamentally-misunderstands-marine-plastics-and-causes-harm/
+ Operation Clean Sweep: https://www.opcleansweep.org/about/
+ US EPA report, Plastic Pellets in the Aquatic Environment: Sources and Recommendations: https://nepis.epa.gov/Exe/ZyPURL.cgi?Dockey=20004Y95.txt
+ Story of Plastic: https://www.storyofplastic.org/
+ Research team at the University of Plymouth: https://www.plymouth.ac.uk/research/marine-litter
+ Find ways to be part of the solution to plastic pollution with a free online platform: https://shift.how/
+ Solidified Oil Spill campaign, Surfrider Foundation of Vancouver Island: https://vancouverisland.surfrider.org/solidified-oil-spill/
+ Science journal cover story on plastic pollution: https://science.sciencemag.org/content/369/6510/1455
+ Upcoming open access journal on microplastics and nanoplastics: https://microplastics.springeropen.com/
+ Diane Wilson and San Antonio Bay Estuarine waterkeeper's work: https://waterkeeper.org/news/report-shows-plastic-pollution-a-threat-to-texas-gulf-coast/
+ Impacts of Plastic summit videos available inside the Campaign Network: https://bit.ly/impactsofplastic
+ Map of reports of "plastic" to the US Coast Guard, USA, National Response Center, courtesy of Skytruth and the Gulf Monitoring Consortium: https://alerts.skytruth.org/issue/186-plastic (also check out [this post](https://publiclab.org/notes/eustatic/09-23-2020/querying-the-us-national-response-center-s-data-for-reports-of-plastic-to-the-us-coast-guard-with-skytruth-org) from [@eustatic](https://publiclab.org/profile/eustatic) for more details!)
## 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.
+ Inviting people with interest in or experience with the topic to share questions, knowledge, experiences, and stories in conversations and/or through posts on PublicLab.org.
+ 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 research notes.
+ Hosting an open online event to share stories, questions and answers, highlights from the review, and to welcome all to research the topic whether they are newcomers or seasoned researchers.
+ Posting 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