The Research Cycle
Visualizing the Research Process
The main component of the research cycle are:
- Ideas or questions to be explored
- Research planning
- Experimentation and testing
- Data collection and analysis
- Conclusions and new ideas or questions
- Communication and dissemination of results
You begin your investigation with research and planning, which is the first subcycle. While circling around this pathway you gather the information you need to translate your idea into testable form. You talk with your PI or your peers; you read papers and other literature; you examine experimental protocols. As you continue circling in this pathway you refine your original idea (or ideas). You also begin formulating hypotheses and designing experiments to test them.
With your experimental plan in hand, you then exit the research and planning subcycle and enter the experimental subcycle. This subcycle has four major stops: experimentation, data collection, data analysis, and conclusions. With each circuit you continue to refine your experimental methods. Feedback from collaborators and peers happens along the way, but is most common at the first and fourth quadrants of the cycle. As you conduct experiments and collect data you may make one or more return visits to the research and planning subcycle before exiting the experimental subcycle with a final set of conclusions.
The experimental subcycle has several exits. The first is that your conclusions spark a new idea, which initiates another trip through the cycle or a completely new iteration. These iterations can spiral off in a carefully planned direction, or they can take exiting new directions. (Possible reference to Sydney Brenner's letter to Max Perultz.) This is the spiral of research.
The second exit scenario leads to wider communication of your idea. If your conclusions are new and/or exiting, you'll want to share them with the entire research community. So you summarize your idea, methods, data, and conclusions in a paper or poster and enter the publishing subcycle. Even though you've been soliciting feedback from your colleagues all along, the publishing process introduces peer review--a more objective form of feedback and the beginning of a small cycle within the publishing process. After a circuit or three through the comments and revisions subcycle, your paper is approved for publication, and your ideas become fodder for many other researchers traveling through their own research cycles.
Web-based tools and resources that light up the pathway
What do Bolt-ons and Grease look like when Applied to the Research Cycle?
Research Planning Cycle
- search tools to help users find work related to their own
- tools for managing reference lists and papers
- Tagging of all OWW information
- Social networking tools for collaboration
- OWW lab notebooks with expanded features and seamless integration of protocols
- searchable OWW protocols repository with ratings and user tools
- OWW table-making and graphing tools
- data analysis tools
- streamlined notebook-to-paper process
- OWW protocols publishing process (via partnership with publisher)
- OWW open writing initiative
- OWW peer review process
The Whole Enchilada
Where are the gaps? What are the priorities?
We invite the OWW community to help us pinpoint the undiscovered opportunities