Science 2.0 evolves

Online work space and collaboration tools change how scientists work together

Researchers from the National Center for Supercomputing Applications (NCSA) at the University of Illinois are turning to Web 2.0 tools to improve how scientists worldwide can work together and conduct research.NCSA programmers have created a Web portal called the CyberCollaboratory that provides researchers with blogs, geospatial applications and other collaborative tools to make the scientific process more transparent and efficient.“You do your thing as a professor, you write it up in a paper, and it goes off into the literature and…maybe somebody will make a change in their research based on your paper a couple of years down the road,” said James Myers, associate director of cyber environments at NCSA. “What we are trying to do is sort of short-circuit that cycle and make it so that as soon as you have a new idea or a result it can get posted…and get used.”Concerning the big picture, NCSA portal developers hope that by speeding the rate at which scientists share raw and quality controlled data, people will see the benefits of research much quicker as accurate modeling becomes more available to decision-makers. They also expect that by including digital metadata about the origins of raw data and scientific analyses, scientists and policy-makers will be able to ensure that models are current and complete.For example, about 400 scientists nationwide use the CyberCollaboratory as they work on a National Science Foundation-funded project to explore how natural and human-induced changes to the environment affect water quantity and quality.Scientists working on the Water and Environmental Research Systems Network have been using the online tools to share documents, organize discussions and report their activities in blogs, said Barbara Minsker, the project’s principal investigator and professor of civil and environmental engineering at the University of Illinois.The online tools help scientists from 11 test sites nationwide where water data is collected and analyzed better coordinate research, Minsker said. Eventually, the provenance features that track the origins of research mean people will get credit for their work and, in turn, be more likely to share their work, she said.The CyberCollaboratory portal was built using Liferay's open-source portal software. NCSA officials chose the platform because it lets them add new online capabilities as research methods and technologies evolve during projects that could last decades, Myers said. Participating scientists are encouraged to change and alter analytic tools then share them with other scientists.NCSA's use of Liferay open-source software and interoperable Java protocols is critical to the long-term success of the project, said Bryan Cheung, the company’s chief executive officer.Organizers said the geospatial and mapping tools in the CyberCollaboratory will allow researchers to study areas such as water resources on a broader basis — a primary goal of the Water and Environmental Research Systems Network project.“They fund academic research in these areas now, but this would be something that pushes academia to look at things at a continental scale and global issues as opposed to site-by-site issues,” Myers said.

4 pillars of context

Programmers at the National Center for Supercomputing Applications are developing a Web portal and collaboration tools for scientists. They say that establishing context in the following four ways is critical to the success of such systems.


  • Social: Online communication and collaboration among peers harness the power of social networking.

  • Geospatial: A lot of scientific data is related to physical locations, so context maps are important for understanding its significance.

  • Provenance: Source information helps scientists validate discoveries and interpret results by documenting the history and causal relationship of work.

  • Semantic: Capturing ontologies/metadata created in the discovery process can improve the ability to search, brows and analyze.


— Ben Bain

Editor's note: This story was updated at 10:11 a.m. Nov. 8, 2007. Please go to Corrections & Clarifications to see what has changed.






















X
This website uses cookies to enhance user experience and to analyze performance and traffic on our website. We also share information about your use of our site with our social media, advertising and analytics partners. Learn More / Do Not Sell My Personal Information
Accept Cookies
X
Cookie Preferences Cookie List

Do Not Sell My Personal Information

When you visit our website, we store cookies on your browser to collect information. The information collected might relate to you, your preferences or your device, and is mostly used to make the site work as you expect it to and to provide a more personalized web experience. However, you can choose not to allow certain types of cookies, which may impact your experience of the site and the services we are able to offer. Click on the different category headings to find out more and change our default settings according to your preference. You cannot opt-out of our First Party Strictly Necessary Cookies as they are deployed in order to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting the cookie banner and remembering your settings, to log into your account, to redirect you when you log out, etc.). For more information about the First and Third Party Cookies used please follow this link.

Allow All Cookies

Manage Consent Preferences

Strictly Necessary Cookies - Always Active

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Sale of Personal Data, Targeting & Social Media Cookies

Under the California Consumer Privacy Act, you have the right to opt-out of the sale of your personal information to third parties. These cookies collect information for analytics and to personalize your experience with targeted ads. You may exercise your right to opt out of the sale of personal information by using this toggle switch. If you opt out we will not be able to offer you personalised ads and will not hand over your personal information to any third parties. Additionally, you may contact our legal department for further clarification about your rights as a California consumer by using this Exercise My Rights link

If you have enabled privacy controls on your browser (such as a plugin), we have to take that as a valid request to opt-out. Therefore we would not be able to track your activity through the web. This may affect our ability to personalize ads according to your preferences.

Targeting cookies may be set through our site by our advertising partners. They may be used by those companies to build a profile of your interests and show you relevant adverts on other sites. They do not store directly personal information, but are based on uniquely identifying your browser and internet device. If you do not allow these cookies, you will experience less targeted advertising.

Social media cookies are set by a range of social media services that we have added to the site to enable you to share our content with your friends and networks. They are capable of tracking your browser across other sites and building up a profile of your interests. This may impact the content and messages you see on other websites you visit. If you do not allow these cookies you may not be able to use or see these sharing tools.

If you want to opt out of all of our lead reports and lists, please submit a privacy request at our Do Not Sell page.

Save Settings
Cookie Preferences Cookie List

Cookie List

A cookie is a small piece of data (text file) that a website – when visited by a user – asks your browser to store on your device in order to remember information about you, such as your language preference or login information. Those cookies are set by us and called first-party cookies. We also use third-party cookies – which are cookies from a domain different than the domain of the website you are visiting – for our advertising and marketing efforts. More specifically, we use cookies and other tracking technologies for the following purposes:

Strictly Necessary Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Functional Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Performance Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Sale of Personal Data

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.

Social Media Cookies

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.

Targeting Cookies

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.