In a recent blog post, Eugene Ivanov explores the method of “reverse crowdsourcing” – asking the crowd questions about the problem itself. As an example, researchers at Harvard Medical School asked the crowd: what do we not know to cure Type 1 diabetes? Are there “neglected” problems off the radars of the existing Type 1 diabetes research groups? Among the winning contributions, one submitted by a diabetes patient that could provide a unique perspective on the type of challenges faced by diabetes patients, a perspective that can’t be offered by a healthy individual.
The same approach of using crowdsourcing to combine scientific knowledge of doctors with the knowledge of patients been expanded and further developed by researchers at the Open Innovation in Science Center (OIS Center) in Vienna, Austria. They are huge proponents of crowdsourcing research questions. As OIS Center operational manager Lucia Malfent puts it:
Open Innovation is a big opportunity for science and leverages new ways of cooperation. At the interface between science, business and society, new and previously uninvolved players can get a voice. When a large crowd from all over the world shares its knowledge and contributes to generating novel ideas, new solutions and especially new research questions will arise.
The OIG center applied the method to the issue of mental illness. Patients, their caregivers, doctors were asked to highlight unresolved problems and open research questions in the field, with 40% of contributions coming from patients. The crowdsourcing campaign identified an area of mental health research in need of more attention: the mental health of children and adolescents with mentally ill parents. Since then, two research projects addressing this issue have since been launched.
The OIG Center’s next target, earlier this year, was orthopedic traumatology, with a crowdsourcing campaign called “Tell Us!”. The researchers want to generate novel and original research questions, both from experts and patients, that have previously not been properly addressed in the area of traumatology research. You can check the status of the crowdsourcing campaign “Tell Us!” campaign he project website is www.tell-us.online.