Research Networking Software App/Gadget Development Competition
CTSI Annual Pilot Awards to Improve the Conduct of Research
An "Open Proposal" Opportunity
Background/Rationale: Social networking sites such as Facebook, Google+ and LinkedIn are web platforms. They allow independent applications to run within their sites to enhance the user experience, often integrating with external services to provide dynamic content as varied as reading lists from Amazon, blog posts from WordPress, to live game play from Zynga. The beauty of these external services is that they can be shared across any software platform that chooses to deploy them.
At UCSF, we recognized the value in making our research networking tool into a web platform. Accordingly, we have contributed an extension to the open-source Profiles research networking software tool, and we are now using our UCSF Profiles installation as a platform (based on the industry standard OpenSocial), whereby we have written "apps" or "gadgets" to extend the functionality. One such gadget is to display presentations, posters and other content that is uploaded to Slideshare.net, within an individual's UCSF Profile page itself. This gadget allows researchers to share conference presentations, lectures etc. easily within their UCSF research profile.
The software code for these gadgets is open source; gadgets can and have been shared with other institutions. The end goal is to create an open library of shareable gadgets for research networking, where any institution (academic, for profit etc.) can contribute to or use the apps in this library.
At this point, we think research networking software tools could make a giant leap forward by harnessing this simple technological implementation and marrying it with many institutions’ knowledge of what features and functions will enable more efficiency and collaboration in the research process. To date, one other institution using Profiles has adopted the standard and another is on track to do so in a matter of months. Wake Forest has successfully deployed Profiles as an OpenSocial enabled platform and has written 2 of their own gadgets. Baylor is now on track to do the same.
Plan: We propose to hold a competition similar to one held by VIVO in 2011. A call to institutions for the best ideas for research networking software functions would be sent out and judged on a set of criteria that would include feasibility, value and impact for enabling research efficiency and/or collaboration.
We will choose 2 winners of the competition and each would receive:
- A new iPad
- Plus, development of the gadget itself, using resources from the VH team and our development network to execute. Winner would be acknowledged in attribution on gadget itself once launched.
- Recognition via public presentation(s) at Profiles User Group meetings, as invited guest presenter at CTSA IKFC meetings etc.
With the following stipulations: a) the resulting gadget is offered in the library and made available free and open-source, 2) the winner is available as needed as subject matter expert during design and implementation of the gadget.
Impact/Value: We believe this project:
- will further the ability for research networking tools to have impact on the research process
- will contribute to the national CTSA body of knowledge and experience with research networking
- allow institutions and individuals with creative ideas for features to share those ideas with the community and contribute in a timely manner
- further demonstrate that OpenSocial is an inexpensive way to create valuable production level apps given the low technical complexity of gadgets.
Criteria: Criteria for entry would be open to all, but with active promotion to UCSF, all institutions in the Profiles User Group, all VIVO-enabled institutions. Judges for entries would be identified from the CTSI VH team, CTSI leaders / faculty, and institutions currently leading the research networking software field (e.g., Harvard, and Wake Forest)
While we know that we may get ideas easily from IT folks, we will make a concerted effort to gather ideas from researchers themselves. In addition to soliciting the CTSI faculty (for their own ideas in addition to recommendations for others to contact), we will target those faculty who:
1) commented on our open proposal
2) have very well fleshed out profiles on UCSF Profiles
3) are engaged in science of team science (we will use UCSF Profiles to identify these peopleJ)
4) have been past proponents of UCSF Profiles
5) have been interviewed personally by VH team members (Research Networking 2.0 interviews)
6) are part of our post-doc user group.
We will create a detailed description for the call for ideas. This will include the scope, i.e., new features specifically for research networking software products, and the judging criteria (to include feasibility, applicability to OpenSocial approach, value and impactfor enabling research efficiency and/or collaboration). In addition, while we plan to promote actively at UCSF, we’ll solicit entries outside of UCSF by leveraging our relationships with other institutions that are heavily engaged in adopting research networking software tools, such as the Profiles User group (including Harvard, Wake Forest, Baylor, Minnesota), Stanford CAP, VIVO (including U Illinois, U Florida), U Iowa LOKI, and the CTSA IKFC National Research Networking Group.
Total Budget: $33,406
$1000 for iPads, $32,406 for development and project management of 2 gadgets
Collaborators: Wake Forest, Harvard, CTSI leadership / faculty as judges.