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Ten Simple Rules for Getting Help from Online Scientific Communities

Dall'Olio, Giovanni M. and Marino, Jacopo and Schubert, Michael and Keys, Kevin L. and Stefan, Melanie I. and Gillespie, Colin S. and Poulain, Pierre and Shameer, Khader and Sugar, Robert and Invergo, Brandon M. and Jensen, Lars J. and Bertranpetit, Jaume and Laayouni, Hafid (2011) Ten Simple Rules for Getting Help from Online Scientific Communities. PLoS Computational Biology, 7 (9). e1002202. ISSN 1553-734X. PMCID PMC3182872.

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The increasing complexity of research requires scientists to work at the intersection of multiple fields and to face problems for which their formal education has not prepared them. For example, biologists with no or little background in programming are now often using complex scripts to handle the results from their experiments; vice versa, programmers wishing to enter the world of bioinformatics must know about biochemistry, genetics, and other fields. In this context, communication tools such as mailing lists, web forums, and online communities acquire increasing importance. These tools permit scientists to quickly contact people skilled in a specialized field. A question posed properly to the right online scientific community can help in solving difficult problems, often faster than screening literature or writing to publication authors. The growth of active online scientific communities, such as those listed in Table S1, demonstrates how these tools are becoming an important source of support for an increasing number of researchers. Nevertheless, making proper use of these resources is not easy. Adhering to the social norms of World Wide Web communication—loosely termed “netiquette”—is both important and non-trivial. In this article, we take inspiration from our experience on Internet-shared scientific knowledge, and from similar documents such as “Asking the Questions the Smart Way” and “Getting Answers”, to provide guidelines and suggestions on how to use online communities to solve scientific problems.

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Additional Information:© 2011 Dall'Olio et al. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited. Published September 29, 2011. GMD is supported by grants SAF-2007-63171 and BFU2010-19443 (subprogram BMC) awarded by Ministerio de Educación y Ciencia (Spain), the Direcció General de Recerca, Generalitat de Catalunya (Grup de Recerca Consolidat 2009 SGR 1101) to JB. KLK is supported by a 2010–2011 Fulbright student research grant to Spain. LJJ is supported by a donation from the Novo Nordisk Foundation. JM is supported by funding from the University of Zurich. MIS is supported by a long-term fellowship from EMBO. The funders had no role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript. This article has been written collaboratively as an open initiative based on the WikiGenes platform, at the address tenrules-onlinecommunities. We would like to thank Robert Hoffmann from the Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, Massachusetts, for making available the WikiGenes platform and for the support. We would also like to acknowledge Nelson Ndegwa from EMBL-EBI and Daniel Mietchen from University of Jena for contributions to the draft of the manuscript.
Funding AgencyGrant Number
Ministerio de Educación y Ciencia (MEC)SAF-2007-63171
Ministerio de Educación y Ciencia (MEC)BFU2010-19443
Direcció General de Recerca, Generalitat de Catalunya2009 SGR 1101
Fulbright FoundationUNSPECIFIED
Novo Nordisk FoundationUNSPECIFIED
University of ZurichUNSPECIFIED
European Molecular Biology Organization (EMBO)UNSPECIFIED
Issue or Number:9
PubMed Central ID:PMC3182872
Record Number:CaltechAUTHORS:20111021-134514307
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Official Citation:Dall'Olio GM, Marino J, Schubert M, Keys KL, Stefan MI, et al. (2011) Ten Simple Rules for Getting Help from Online Scientific Communities. PLoS Comput Biol 7(9): e1002202. doi:10.1371/journal.pcbi.1002202
Usage Policy:No commercial reproduction, distribution, display or performance rights in this work are provided.
ID Code:27353
Deposited By: Jason Perez
Deposited On:21 Oct 2011 21:28
Last Modified:12 Feb 2020 18:38

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