Open Research Swarm - Finland

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"The Open Research Swarm ORSi (Tutkimusparvi in Finnish) is a novel way and experiment of self-organizing, collaborative academic research utilizing social media tools on the Internet. The main goal is to collectively achieve rapid solutions to given questions and challenges. Transparency of the research and creative collaboration are central ideas behind ORSi.

Like Wikipedia, ORSi is open for everyone to participate.

The motivation to seek novel ways to scientific collaboration rose from known imperfections in current procedures in science. Publicing can be groundlessly slow, restricted access is prevailing practice in journals, research data and initial stage research knowledge are commonly closed. The fundamentals grounding the endeavours of ORSi are mutual with the ideology of Open Science. Open Science is not a fully defined concept. It is related to Open Source, Open Data and Open Access. In ORSi openness is seen as a broader concept including the research process, financing, and participation, as well.

Other useful concepts to discuss the ORSi are collective intelligence and produsage. "Collective intelligence" or "the wisdom of crowds" refers to the notion that a crowd creates in average better solutions than an any single expert. "Produsage" describes the coincident using and producing of shared content in a networked, participatory environment. It means collaborative and continuous building and extending of existing content in pursuit of further improvement. When individuals and communities share their research from the beginning, it is possible to create common understanding that benefits everyone.

The aim of ORSi is to achieve high quality research both academically and ethically. One of the key advantages in the swarm-based collaboration is its agility and easiness of finding the best experts for each research question. That should result in efficient use of resources. Also the results can be published more quickly, when the documentation and reports are openly on the Internet. The quality of the papers is ensured by both internal and external peer review procedure, and the results may be publicly discussed by anyone.

Besides research, ORSi aims at supporting learning and works as a virtual graduate school for doctoral students from different fields. A longer term goal is to create organizational innovations for new types of collaborative research organizations and connect ORSi to the Finnish and European research funding systems.

Self-organized swarming

ORSi was formed in December 2007 based on discussions among various researchers in the microblogging service Jaiku. Theoretic discussion of open research and concrete need for new research partners, as well as people with similar interests met each other through common contacts in the social media service. A common channel for further discussion was soon created and the aims for collaboration were found.

In June 2008 there are 80 members in the #tutkimusparvi channel in Jaiku, which is considered as a coordinative hub and the main communication channel, where innovations, ideas and discussions mainly take place. In the wiki pages at there are 35 named researchers or other participants.

Wiki is used for the iterative processes of plans, documents and other activities. There is also collaboration with the Wikiversity of Finland that was created in connection to ORSi. For communication and information sharing social bookmarking service, email, Skype and blogs are used, as well.

This dualistic communication platform has been proven very efficient. Microchannels is used for instant messaging and as a backchannel via laptops and mobile devices, including archiving for later reading, and wiki is used for documents." (

More Information

  1. Presentation of the project at