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Question: Would you contribute to a site that paid people to perform mundane aspects of science research?
I would advertise there if it got big
I would donate a bit of time for free
I would donate funds to pay those who did the work
This idea is dumb
I would work for cheap
I would contribute in multiple ways

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Author Topic: Very preliminary concept (Get paid to do science)  (Read 2320 times)
bb113
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May 01, 2012, 11:26:16 PM
 #1

I have been trying to come up with ways to reduce researcher reliance on government funding. Be warned, this is just a really vague concept at this phase.

These would be tasks done at a computer like manipulating images, tracing complex structures, proof reading journal drafts, etc that are not yet easily automated. For example, the researcher would upload image stacks taken from histology slides (for example a brain), and someone would download them along with some software, then spend an hour or two tracing the arbor of a neuron and get paid $5-$10 for a job well done. Others could donate to this site, somehow invest in it and filter out bad submissions. The payout could be a function of the number of submissions and there would be extra rewards for more productive contributors. Alternatively the researchers themselves could put up some money for a task.
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May 02, 2012, 12:39:21 AM
 #2

Can you change this to a multiple-option poll?

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May 02, 2012, 01:12:44 AM
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Might be cool to mix education and 'menial' online labor. Like they teach you about brain structures and then you practice your knowledge by actually learning. Maybe use pay to sort out surpluses if needed. It would be cool to have something like coinworker, but more advanced, like maybe you need a some skill and/or to take a 5-60 minute lesson.

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May 02, 2012, 01:57:17 AM
 #4

Can you change this to a multiple-option poll?

I don't see an option to do that in the edit poll menu. You are right that it should be multiple option though...
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May 02, 2012, 02:20:29 AM
 #5

Can you change this to a multiple-option poll?

I don't see an option to do that in the edit poll menu. You are right that it should be multiple option though...

Thanks for adding more options, that certainly helps.

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May 02, 2012, 04:50:39 AM
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Absolutely. I love the concept, and I would be happy to volunteer some of my spare time for free to dedicate to a noble cause. Some extra education would be the icing on the cake.

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bb113
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May 02, 2012, 05:12:22 AM
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Might be cool to mix education and 'menial' online labor. Like they teach you about brain structures and then you practice your knowledge by actually learning. Maybe use pay to sort out surpluses if needed. It would be cool to have something like coinworker, but more advanced, like maybe you need a some skill and/or to take a 5-60 minute lesson.

Absolutely. I love the concept, and I would be happy to volunteer some of my spare time for free to dedicate to a noble cause. Some extra education would be the icing on the cake.

This is a good idea. It would be like the practice questions at the end of the chapter, except they matter... and you get paid for doing it "right".
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May 02, 2012, 05:14:00 AM
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Might be cool to mix education and 'menial' online labor. Like they teach you about brain structures and then you practice your knowledge by actually learning. Maybe use pay to sort out surpluses if needed. It would be cool to have something like coinworker, but more advanced, like maybe you need a some skill and/or to take a 5-60 minute lesson.

Absolutely. I love the concept, and I would be happy to volunteer some of my spare time for free to dedicate to a noble cause. Some extra education would be the icing on the cake.

This is a good idea. It would be like the practice questions at the end of the chapter, except they matter... and you get paid for doing it "right".

And I suspect, even for low pay, it would be quite popular. People get very excited at the prospect of "free" money.

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May 02, 2012, 05:40:47 AM
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Right, even if they don't care about science, once people learn they can go and do something for an hour or two and get 10 dollars when they need it, they will return before going out to the movies or whatever. I agree that a substantial number of people would be willing to do low-paid, short-term "contract"-type work for a noble cause. There would also be a subset that is actually interested in the results and context of what they are doing and be willing to donate time for free to at least rate the submitted work after they have completed the task themselves or attained a certain level or something like that.

Initially there would be seed funding from somewhere (perhaps even a gov't grant), but the goal would be to have it become self-sustaining by gaining funding either through advertisements, donations, lessons/lectures, or some other incentive.
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May 02, 2012, 05:41:59 AM
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Right, even if they don't care about science, once people learn they can go and do something for an hour or two and get 10 dollars when they need it, they will return before going out to the movies or whatever. I agree that a substantial number of people would be willing to do low-paid, short-term "contract"-type work for a noble cause. There would also be a subset that is actually interested in the results and context of what they are doing and be willing to donate time for free to at least rate the submitted work after they have completed the task themselves or attained a certain level or something like that.

Initially there would be seed funding from somewhere (perhaps even a gov't grant), but the goal would be to have it become self-sustaining by gaining funding either through advertisements, donations, free lessons/lectures, or some other incentive.

I bet you could garner enough support in the form of donations/advertisements from the Bitcoin community to start it off.

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May 02, 2012, 06:10:08 AM
 #11

I actually think this type of grant would get funded, and be worth funding, by NIH, etc. There are many experiments that do not get done right because a grad student needs to do what amounts to basically the same thing 1000 times and after 30 they have learned all they can from it and are "supposed" to be publishing and moving on with their career, so they stop at 200 times or so when the study is powered to get p < 0.05. This is accepted because everyone who reviews papers and grants understands that in practice, you need to publish as often as possible to continue your career. In my opinion, this practical, but resulting half-assed approach is honestly a cultural plague beset upon science. This is especially the case for animal research that needs to be replicated with small variations time after time because no one is willing to fully analyze the resulting tissue. You can argue the pros and cons of animal research but currently 99% of the animal gets wasted because noone has time to analyze it. It really is a wasteful, unethical system right now.
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May 02, 2012, 07:23:08 AM
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I have seen a system for transcribing recording into words. The biggest hassle is constant need to train new people. You will be surprised how hard is to train a person who is willing to be paid low end rates. The retention of people who learn quick is not high. The end of the story was that pay rates went up to retain people.

There is half-joke about an ad for a person with PhD with appropriate level salary to cut leaves into small pieces. When one applicant realized what task he is going to perform, he asked recruiter why they need a person with PhD to do such mandate and repetitive task. The answer was simple: no one else understands how important it is to do this task precisely as documented in the instruction.

However, if you do things that are not culture specific (like language specific in the case I have seen) you may have access to cheep foreign labor. There are places in the world where people will work for one hour get paid one dollar and kiss you on your legs for the privilege. What is low end pay rate in US, may be very good for high IQ person in third world country.

I already think about all these people who would like to subscribe and then subcontract the job keeping $9 per hour in their pocket. Not that it did not cross my mind. Wink

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bb113
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May 02, 2012, 07:29:35 AM
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I have seen a system for transcribing recording into words. The biggest hassle is constant need to train new people. You will be surprised how hard is to train a person who is willing to be paid low end rates. The retention of people who learn quick is not high. The end of the story was that pay rates went up to retain people.

There is half-joke about an ad for a person with PhD with appropriate level salary to cut leaves into small pieces. When one applicant realized what task he is going to perform, he asked recruiter why they need a person with PhD to do such mandate and repetitive task. The answer was simple: no one else understands how important it is to do this task precisely as documented in the instruction.

However, if you do things that are not culture specific (like language specific in the case I have seen) you may have access to cheep foreign labor. There are places in the world where people will work for one hour get paid one dollar and kiss you on your legs for the privilege. What is low end pay rate in US, may be very good for high IQ person in third world country.

I already think about all these people who would like to subscribe and then subcontract the job keeping $9 per hour in their pocket. Not that it did not cross my mind. Wink


This is interesting, and likely would be tried. What would stop the "third-world" individuals from signing up themselves? Also, how do you explain the number of people that contribute to wikipedia?
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May 02, 2012, 07:52:05 AM
 #14

[...]
This is interesting, and likely would be tried. What would stop the "third-world" individuals from signing up themselves? Also, how do you explain the number of people that contribute to wikipedia?

Culture differences in most cases (language) and economical differences in remaining ones. After all you need to own a computer with reasonable internet connection.

Wikipedia gets really huge reviewing power and still you can find BS in it. It all depends on how sensitive your study is to human factor artifacts.

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May 02, 2012, 07:55:41 AM
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Sounds quite interesting and a step up from mechanical turk. Eg lots of people might want pretty charts for their work and not know how, only the chart they want.

You might want to have the option to be paid in btc if that's your preference though.


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bb113
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May 02, 2012, 08:29:15 AM
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Sounds quite interesting and a step up from mechanical turk. Eg lots of people might want pretty charts for their work and not know how, only the chart they want.

You might want to have the option to be paid in btc if that's your preference though.



OoC, I want you to know you were crucial in getting me to finally give in and start messing with R. You and stochastic here along with some people IRL. But you were constantly helpful and suggesting it until I realized how much I was limiting myself by relying on excel and my stubbornness to make what was in my head happen... and if I was going to incorporate something into my "workflow" it may as well be R which anyone can use instead of matlab, or worse, sigma plot and brethren. IMO, R doesn't make pretty graphs, but it can depict exactly the info you want, then you make it pretty in illustrator.
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May 02, 2012, 08:47:36 AM
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[...]
This is interesting, and likely would be tried. What would stop the "third-world" individuals from signing up themselves? Also, how do you explain the number of people that contribute to wikipedia?

Culture differences in most cases (language) and economical differences in remaining ones. After all you need to own a computer with reasonable internet connection.

Wikipedia gets really huge reviewing power and still you can find BS in it. It all depends on how sensitive your study is to human factor artifacts.

In my experience, the most important thing participating in the scientific process teaches you is to acknowledge the degree of uncertainty to be dealt with and, also, subjectivity in interpreting your results. Never "believe" what you read. Wikipedia is great because this is made obvious, the appeal to authority veil has been pushed aside.
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May 02, 2012, 08:52:19 AM
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IMO, R doesn't make pretty graphs, but it can depict exactly the info you want, then you make it pretty in illustrator.

Thanks for the kudos, btcbtc113!

I don't want to derail this thread so I'll pm you, but I'm interested in the illustrator prettifying.

Also, I do think R can produce charts sufficiently pretty to make them easy on the eye. Check this out:

http://organofcorti.blogspot.com.au/2012/04/41-slushs-pool.html

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May 02, 2012, 10:05:48 AM
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sub

(sounds cool, I have experience in science as well as the kind of image manipulation you're talking about)

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May 02, 2012, 10:37:31 AM
 #20

[...]
This is interesting, and likely would be tried. What would stop the "third-world" individuals from signing up themselves? Also, how do you explain the number of people that contribute to wikipedia?

Culture differences in most cases (language) and economical differences in remaining ones. After all you need to own a computer with reasonable internet connection.

Wikipedia gets really huge reviewing power and still you can find BS in it. It all depends on how sensitive your study is to human factor artifacts.

There are always "human factor artifacts". I'm not sure what the best way to deal with them would be for this system. Have an odd number of people perform the same task then assess how different the odd man out is vs having the same number of trained researchers do it (techs, interns, grad students, whatever)? Incentivize the other people contributing to score the work of their peers accurately. I agree this is an issue, but it is not unsolvable. I don't think wikipedia bureaucracy is nearly as insidious as the bureaucracy I have observed.
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