Peter Mooney, Frank Ostermann and I first met at a workshop about Crowdsourcing in National Mapping in Leuven. There were people from national mapping agencies from around Europe, who came to talk about their experience with working with crowdsourcing. I talked about the crowdsourcer’s perspective. It was a bit frustrating to be the only OSM-community representative, as I know that we’re defined by many points of views. With Peter and Frank the conversation soon went to the science aspect of that same relation. Professional scientists find it hard to talk to OSM, and OSM people find it hard to talk to scientists. We believe we can do better. And we want to do something about it. Rather than just start doing stuff, we want to invite you to discuss this with us. Below is our line of thinking, written by the three of us together.
This initiative is based on our observations that there is room for improvement in the interactions between the academic research and OSM communities. On the one hand, the OSM community often learns late (or never) about research results generated from academic research on OSM. For example, the OSM wiki pages on academic research are likely not to be up-to-date (with the majority of entries from the years 2010/2011, and little after 2014), but nevertheless quite cluttered, containing many non-English entries, and therefore difficult to search effectively. On the other hand, the academic research community has often little information on what are important concerns for the OSM community. As a result, very often academic research is carried out on OSM in complete isolation from the OSM community itself. There has been substantial interest from the academic research community into OSM since at least 2006/2007. This interest shows no signs of abating. One must acknowledge that the incredible success story of OSM is an intriguing source of potential research for academics.
Our initiative has therefore two main objectives:
- Improve communication structurally and in a sustainable way between both the OSM community and the academic research community. This includes communication about research needs within OSM, communication of research results from the academic community to the OSM community, and shared goals and interests.
- Learn about the interests and needs of the OSM community to enable co-created research
Our approach has two stages: First, this blog post aims to deliver some basic information on what we plan, why we want to go forward with it, and how we hope to reach our objectives. Further, it aims to gather feedback from the OSM community through comments, and invites members of the OSM community to contribute, and propose ideas for research studies. As a second stage, we envision a more structured survey that proposes research ideas based on suggestions from this blog post’s comments , e.g. through voting or multiple-choice questions, that offers some open questions to allow for free-form comments, and asks for ideas on how to keep any wiki pages on research ideas and results more up-to-date. However, we are open for suggestions for different approaches!
We aim for the following outcomes, to be shared with both academic research and OSM communities:
- A short report or evaluation of the procedure itself.
- Publish the highest voted or most often requested research ideas on the OSM community pages.
- Establish a mechanism that allows the update of these ideas and feedback any results, e.g. through finding champions or supporters from both the OSM and the academic research communities, or linking with discussion board on OSM research.
Some more info on why are doing this: Academics/Researchers must write papers and do research as a key component of their ‘day job’. OSM community members want to continue to make the OSM map/database even better, map new things, write OSM software, etc. There surely exists some research problems that the OSM community is interested in investigating - these research problems could also be of great interest to the Academic/Research community. This provides great potential for a collaborative platform between Academia and the OSM community to work on problems of mutual interest. Moreover it provides the potential for a new form of collaboration where the results of the research are directed back to the OSM community for discussion and debate BEFORE they are published in academic journals or conferences. We believe that this vision of co-created research between the two communities will be of interest to everyone involved.
Joost Schouppe, OSM Belgium Frank Ostermann, ITC, Faculty of Geo-Information Science and Earth Observation, University of Twente, The Netherlands Peter Mooney, Dept of Computer Science, Maynooth University, Ireland.
Note: this post was announced on the talk mailing list here