Working together to speed up medical research
Got a burning passion for health? Ready to make a difference? We’ve got you covered.
Join Cochrane Crowd, our partner platforms Mark2Cure and Stall Catchers and our collective global volunteer network for the CitSciMed Blitz. Together we can speed up medical research and make a difference.
CitSciMed Blitz kicks off with a welcome webinar on Wednesday the 21st of February. You’ll hear why our platforms are important, how your contribution influences medical policy and practice, and more details about the Blitz. You’ll also meet the founders and coordinators of Cochrane Crowd, Stall Catchers and Mark2Cure and have a chance to ask any burning questions.
The following week each platform runs a 24-hour online challenge. You’ll get a chance to contribute to the platforms at the exact same time as hundreds of people across the globe, while keeping up with everyone on Twitter. For maximum fun, keep your eye on the challenge stats and contribute to the mini ‘challenge in a challenge’ adventures along the way. Don’t worry, we don’t expect you to contribute for the whole 24 hours of each challenge! More on that in a moment.
All challenges start and end at 3pm GMT. The Stall Catchers challenge begins on Monday 26th February. Mark2Cure comes next, starting on Wednesday 28th February. And we are lucky last! The Cochrane Crowd challenge begins on Friday 2nd March.
Read on for more details.
First things first. I don’t know all the platforms. What are they?
Cochrane Crowd is Cochrane’s new citizen science platform. Our main focus is identifying studies that provide the best possible evidence of the effectiveness of a health treatment. Once identified by the Crowd the studies go into a central register where health researchers and practitioners can access them. The more studies identified by the Crowd, the more high-quality evidence is available to help health practitioners treat their clients. Watch this 2-minute video to learn more, and sign up to get started!
Mark2Cure is a citizen science platform that enables volunteers to help in the process of biomedical discovery. Volunteers extract information from biomedical abstracts in order to help researchers find clues on a rare disease known as NGLY1-deficiency. Take a look at the platform and sign up here.
Stall Catchers is a citizen science game speeding up Alzheimer’s research. In the game, you’re analyzing movies from a live mouse brain, and looking for signs of stalls - clogged blood vessels. By putting many eyes on the task, we can hope to find promising Alzheimer’s treatment targets in just a couple of years, instead of decades. Take a look at the platform and sign up here.
Importantly, no special knowledge is necessary to contribute to any of these platforms! Just a desire to help progress medical research and treatment.
What if I can’t attend the webinar?
That’s not a problem. We will tweet the webinar recording the very next day from @crowd_cochrane. And if you don’t get time to listen before the challenges, that’s okay, you’ll still be able to take part.
How do I sign up to the challenges?
There is no need to sign up to the challenges. You just need to sign up to the platform(s) corresponding to the challenges you’re interested in. We’ll email you with a reminder or two as the Blitz approaches.
How much time do I need to commit?
Of course, we’d love you to do all challenges in their entirety! Just kidding. All jokes aside, any contribution is welcomed, whether it be a few five-minute grabs or a more focused effort. We hope you’ll contribute to all three challenges but it’s totally fine if you want to focus on one or two. To be eligible for a CitSciMed Blitz prize you’ll need to contribute to all; more on that in a moment.
What exactly will I be doing for the challenges?
Attend the webinar for demos and details! But here’s a brief summary:
Your mission in Cochrane Crowd will be to help identify reports of randomised trials. Don’t worry if you aren’t sure what a randomised trial is. Brief, interactive training on the Crowd platform will take you through everything you need to know for this task. So far our wonderful community has helped identify thousands of reports of trials, helping researchers around the world answer important questions about treatments.
Your mission in Mark2Cure will be to identify how genes, diseases, and drugs are conceptually related, based on biomedical text. Mark2Cure works by teaching citizen scientists to precisely identify concepts and concept relationships in biomedical text. Once these tasks are completed, statistical algorithms take the data provided by the volunteers and use it to provide scientists with new tools for finding the information that they require.
Your mission in Stall Catchers will be to help find stalls - clogged blood vessels - in the brains of mice. You’ll look at movies of mouse brains, focusing on a single blood vessel in each movie, and try to identify whether the vessel is flowing or stalled. Each annotated blood vessel gets us closer to understanding & crushing Alzheimer’s!
Don’t be spooked by the science speak! Trust us, you don’t need any prior knowledge to contribute to any of the platforms.
Will there be prizes?
We’re glad you asked! Prizes will go to the top three CitSciMed Blitz contributors. The winners will need to have taken part in all challenges. What are the prizes, you ask? You’ll have to wait and see!
As for the details: your contribution score will be calculated as the sum of number of citations screened in Cochrane Crowd plus number of relationship annotations submitted and/or abstracts annotated in Mark2Cure plus number of vessel movies annotated in Stall Catchers.
What’s the twitter hashtag?
We’ll be tweeting with #CitSciMedBlitz. Please join in!
Sounds fun, can I tell my colleagues about this?
Yes please! We want as many as possible to join us. You could share this page (buttons below), retweet our tweets, or include information about the CitSciMed Blitz in your organisation’s newsletter or website.