RFC a001: Towards a Commons-Driven Research Platform

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RFC a001: Towards a Commons-Driven Research Platform

Proposed by Leif Thomas Olsen February 12, 2012

Editor: Nicolas Mendoza : Contact: [email protected]

Main Statement: R2R RFC

This document is a request for comments to the P2P research community on the following proposal for a new collaborative, commons-driven, research model. A research platform will be built by P2P Foundation according to the ideas from participants in this RFC.

With the Association of Peer to Peer Researchers, the P2P Foundation wishes to create a space for broad autonomous collaboration between P2P researchers around the globe. We aspire to foster heightened levels of interconnection both in volume, frequency and content, leading to qualitative transformations in the relationships and outputs of researchers in the field.

For this, we consider that new ways of conceiving, conducting, writing and publishing formal research are essential. Therefore, we would like to propose a P2P research model consistent with the very idea of P2P. We believe open P2P collaborative practices outperform centralised methodologies:

  • R2R is a ‘commons-driven’ research model.
  • This model shall be possible to use for any type of research (also social) that registered community members wish to conduct.
  • Research projects will benefit from being able to receive the collaboration of the most relevant and interested experts, regardless of affiliation.
  • Research projects will be able to afford significantly broader scope and to be conducted through innovative research dynamics.


Offers for collaboration on the building of the platform itself are welcome as well. If you wish to offer your help in design and/or development of this platform, please raise your hand.

Introduction

The goal of this RFC is to find possible improvements for this model of P2P research, initially proposed by Leif Thomas Olsen.

As the centerpiece of the P2P Researchers Association, the collaborative platform resulting from this RFC process aims to make the Association an action-driven where ideas and projects are consolidated and given visibility.

The long-term objective for the R2R project is to become a reference-point not only for other researchers, but also for (e.g.) investigative writers and journalists, documentary film producers, post-grad students, intellectual activists, futurists, etc, etc, linking back to the r2r Networking site briefly drafted below.

R2R is a ‘commons-driven’ research model. This model shall be possible to use for any type of research (also social) that registered community members wish to conduct.

Proposed Research Process Flow

The following is a step-by-step of the development of research projects, from proposal to publication:

  1. The initiator launches a research project using a standard research proposal format.
  2. Each research project is sub-divided into any number of sub-projects, possible to undertake as independent but still integrated events, such as literature studies, surveys, case-studies, etc. A preliminary time-frame shall be allotted (not less than 3 months).
  3. Any number of researchers can participate, multiplying the same literature studies, surveys, case-studies, etc as many times as they wish. All research-outcomes/-findings are posted on the dedicated research site.
  4. Any researcher wishing to make a critical evaluation of the findings till date can access these, and post his/her review-findings / critique.
  5. ALL postings made MUST be by an identifiable research community member. Anonymous postings will be removed.
  6. When the research community has exhausted its efforts in any sub-project (while many sub-projects may be simultaneously on-going), those wishing to support the proposed conclusions e-sign their confirmation.
  7. Sub-project’s conclusions contribute to other and/or further steps of the research.
  8. The research-project initiator organizes the research findings internally, and ensures that participator’s are acknowledge as ‘contributors’.
  9. Once the entire project is completed along the above lines, a formal research-paper is issued by the initiator, which all (only) contributors are invited to co-edit.
  10. The final research-paper is listed on the p2p Foundation website, stating the title of the research project, key terms and concepts, a research summary, its contributors and a web-link to the full report.

Mechanics

  • Click on the "Discussion" tab on the top of this page to post your comments.
  • Use this space to discuss this proposal. As long as we keep the conversation on-topic all kinds of intervention are welcome.
  • At the moment, there is no detailed timeline or deadline for this RFC, but we encourage researchers to share their thoughts propmtly and frequently. We will start building the platform when we feel there is 'rough consensus' about it.
  • Future RFCs can come from all participants who want to discuss ideas to improve the model. We will always try to find the means to implement proposals that garner 'rough consensus' from the community.

R2R in Context: Autonomy in Research Beyond Universities and Think Tanks

To the World’s P2P Research Community,

The objective of this initiative is the creation of a new and hopefully sustainable avenue for Research and Knowledge Enhancement, differing from what universities and think tanks represent.

Universities are, although often populated by people full of good intentions, products of the Westphalian nation-state system, where national and commercial interests rule. They tend to compartmentalize and privatize knowledge, and are driven by both intra- and inter-institutional competition for resources and ownership. Cross-disciplinary research is therefore still rare and old, rock-solid institutional ‘cultures’ tend to rule.

If universities are not owned by the State - and thereby directly or indirectly ruled by politicians and bureaucrats - they are commercial entities, where donor- and sponsor-ships influence their research orientations and priorities, and education is packaged to suit as large and powerful purchasing groups as possible.

As researchers, we have therefore for too long been driven by institutional formats. So shall e.g. a Master thesis in the UK preferably not exceed 50 pages, and even a PhD thesis shall only include ‘small contributions’ to the overall body of knowledge in its field – the rest focusing on a discussion on already existing knowledge.

Although such specific details may vary, both from university to university and from country to country, it still suggest that even a PhD is merely a part of the formal quali-fication process that eventually allows the researcher to reach the level where his / her own understanding of the reality s/he is researching is taken seriously by the academic community. And to even suggest that a Master project could bridge two institutionally disconnected faculties, like e.g. corporate accounting and political science, is doomed.

This is however an excellent route to ensure that the academic him-/herself is shaped into yet another bearer of the incumbent culture, since somebody who labored for that long in a system so strict is likely to become an integrated part of it, defending it as far as s/he can. This is in fact not very different from how the military establishment goes about their task - i.e. to make people do what that institution wants people to do.

Think Tanks may have a different agenda, but their funding is always the key to their existence. Much such funding is of a very discreet nature – often for good reasons.

That the world is full of people who have both valuable and priceless insights in the environments and situations they are a part of - without having chosen an academic career - is, in a system like this, difficult to appreciate and benefit from. Research should therefore, if it is to serve people in general, also be contributed to by people in general. To remove the glass ceiling that currently separates the societies we research from the research we do on societies, is perhaps the main objective with this new and hopefully sustainable avenue for Research and Knowledge Enhancement.

Quality in research brews not only from acquired research skills, but also from interest, sincerity, integrity, urgency and relative importance. In R2R Research can these contributions freely meet and interact, to the benefit of society and humanity.

Your participation and contribution is essential. Please help us make this come true.