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Revision as of 16:38, 21 April 2022 by Madprime (talk | contribs) (Expanding the lead and explanation of personal science)
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The Personal Science Wiki hosts knowledge about "personal science", where individuals use empirical methods to ask and answer questions about their own lives. Personal science practices overlap with various related communities (e.g. Quantified Self and patient-led research) and individual goals are diverse (e.g. productivity and wellness, mental health, and management of chronic health conditions).

The scope of this wiki encompasses both general knowledge (tools and topics) as well as individual efforts (people and projects). As such, "original research" that shares first-person personal science efforts and observations is explicitly allowed.

What is Personal Science?

Personal science is research conducted from a first person perspective, where the researcher is also the "subject" of research. Many projects are "solo", but personal science can occur at individual and collective scales ("I" or "we"). What is key is that the conceptualization and conduct of projects comes from the individuals that are studied: the involvement of institutional support and professional scientists (e.g. academics) is limited and often entirely absent.

As such, "personal science" is a form of "citizen science" that can occur almost entirely outside traditional research institutions. At the same time, many practitioners of personal science come from academia and adjacent fields (research industry, technology, medicine), re-using skills in research and technology to apply them to ask personally relevant questions.

What is the motivation behind this wiki?

A big barrier that personal scientists encounter is the need to “reinvent the wheel” when developing their own research projects as there is no common resource of knowledge[1]. We co-developed this semantic wiki for and with the personal science community to to provide an infrastructure and the seed for this kind of interconnected knowledge resource.

How does this wiki work?

See How this wiki works.

What content is appropriate?

The purpose of the wiki is to help people engaged in these practices, or interested in learning how to do so. As such, the content remains open-ended as we explore potential content.

Original Research is allowed

Unlike Wikipedia, we believe there must be "original research" that is explicitly included within the domain of "personal science"! Individuals are invited to share their research processes and results.

Exactly what format this "should" take remains a topic of exploration. We invite individuals to document their own work (see Category:People). We also welcome documenting the work that others have shared elsewhere (e.g. on personal blogs or in online forums).

How do I contribute to this wiki?

To learn about the technical part of contributing to this wiki, see Getting started with wiki syntax.

Why a wiki?

Wikis are powerful, flexible tools for creating "consensus information". Individual pages provide structure for understanding a particular topic, and linking to other pages enables aggregation and findability of information. On wikis, anyone is allowed to edit any page, which removes maintenance bottlenecks present in prior, more editorialized approaches.

Why not git?

A downside of "git" and similar tools developed for source code management is that they rely on a review and approval process to update the "consensus". That is to say: a potential contributor must submit a requested update, a "pull request", and the maintainer(s) of a repository determine whether that update should be accepted. Wikis enable updates with a much lower bar: in general, anyone can edit. While this makes them more susceptible to negative consequences (e.g. spam content). However this can be mitigated (e.g. via "locked pages", routine oversight and reversions), and is less "dangerous" than the consequences of undesirable code updates.

Who's in charge?

This wiki was developed as an offshoot of conversations in "self research chats", attended by individuals interested in Quantified Self and self research practices. It was initiated as part of research by the Peer-Produced Research Lab. The wiki's server, as well as weekly chats, are hosted by Open Humans Foundation, a 501c3 nonprofit based in the United States.

Governance is not currently highly defined, following a consensus-driven approach within these communities.