By Nicole L. Garneau, PhD
This quote easily pertains to many broken branches of communication in science (all of which concern me), but today I want to hone in on scientific literature, and this mind-blowing statistic: Every minute more than 2 new scientific articles are published.
Basically this statistic tells us that it’s nearly impossible to consume (and understand) not only the literature in our own fields as scientists, but also the wealth of data in other areas. The latter being the basis of interdisciplinary science and the future of novel discoveries. If understanding the work that is already out there is one of the cornerstones to designing new experiments and advancing science, we’re up a creek without a paddle. We just can’t keep up.
This is where the crowdsourced project, Mark2Cure, and their web tagline… “Scientific communication is broke,” comes into play, and I think it’s a game-changer.
I found out about this project at the Citizen Science Association annual meeting this year (Feb 2015), and but I finally registered to be a part of the project today. In addition to registering myself, I took a leap of faith and registered a team, called DMNS. My call to action to all of you out there, whether you are DMNS staff, volunteers or have happened to stumbled upon this blog as a science enthusiast, is to join with me… and bonus, I’ll even walk you through my experience.
But first, a few more details:
Mark2Cure is a Scripps Research Institute project of the Su Lab. “One million research articles are published each year but no one is staying up-to-date with the literature as a whole,” said Andrew I. Su, head of The Su Lab, a research group at Scripps, and an associate professor in the Department of Molecular and Experimental Medicine. Su believes that trained volunteers can read and annotate key terms in medical literature “at a greater scale than individual scientists could ever hope.” And do so better than computers. Crowd-sourced curation of biomedical literature will allow researchers to focus on articles most useful to them and to potentially see novel links between NGLY1 and other diseases and drugs.
Ready to join, read this, it’s my take on the experience, and includes both what worked and what the designers might want to update to make crowdsourcing easier on the participant. All in all, it took a little bit of clicking around (some non-intuitive) to figure out some things, but I think I have it down now:
1. Head to the website, Mark2Cure.org
2. Click “I want to help” and it will launch you into a tutorial. It took me about 15 minutes to complete.
- NOTE there was one super annoying part: every time you click next or submit to the next section, a dialog box pops up to remind you that the program is optimized for a laptop/desktop, not a mobile device. I’ve contacted the team and they are working on the issue, might have to do with my computer and not the website.
- ALSO: It’s not completely intuitive what the heck is going on as you go through tutorial, especially since you have to do exactly what the screen tells you to do and do it correctly before the “Next” button will show up- so If nothing shows up, you haven’t done the task correctly- that can be frustrating… however, I learned that if you take TOO long a hint button pops up, which I definitely needed on one of the tutorial sections.
- About the 30 minutes… ultimately, you thought you were just taking a moment to register, but ended up doing a lot more. My take: it was worth it. I felt more prepared for what I was signing up to do before I actually registered and will definitely help me to contribute more accurately.
3. After the tutorial you will be given the opportunity to register: please enter ‘DMNS’ in the “I heard about Mark2Cure from” field
4. After registering successfully you will be redirected to your community dashboard
5. Click on ‘profile’ >> ‘settings’ and then click on the arrow next to ‘team’ to select DMNS
6. To get back to the dashboard, click the Mar2Cure logo in the lop left of the page
7. Once back at your dashboard, run through some practice abstracts and then start your first quest- it’s that easy!
Tips to avoid frustration
- You can “scrolling through colors” by clicking on the term(s) over and over until you hit the right one, this took me too long to figure out, so I thought it’d be easier to just share now
- Adding the team name: click on my profile link to add it in
- For the life of me I couldn’t figure out how to get back to my dashboard after updating my profile, it turns out you just have to click the Mark2Cure logo on top right
If you join, don’t forget to select DMNS as both how you heard about M2C and as your team in the profile section… and let’s see if together we can help identify key pieces of information in scientific text to help researchers discover cures faster.
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