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The use of microblogging for field-based scientific research
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  • Alberto PepeOrcid,
  • Matthew Mayernik
Alberto Pepe
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Matthew Mayernik

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23 Apr 2020Submitted to Track: Conference Proceedings
23 Apr 2020Published in Track: Conference Proceedings

Abstract

Documenting the context in which data are collected is an integral part of the scientific research lifecycle. In field-based research, contextual information provides a detailed description of scientific practices and thus enables data interpretation and reuse. For field data, losing contextual information often means losing the data altogether. Yet, documenting the context of distributed, collaborative, field-based research can be a significant challenge due to the unpredictable nature of real-world settings and to the high degree of variability in data collection methods and scientific practices of different researchers. In this article, we propose the use of microblogging as a mechanism to support collection, ingestion, and publication of contextual information about the variegated digital artifacts that are produced in field research. We perform interviews with scholars involved in field-based environmental and urban sensing research, to determine the extent of adoption of Twitter and similar microblogging platforms and their potential use for field-specific research applications. Based on the results of these interviews as well as participant observation of field activities, we present the design, development, and pilot evaluation of a microblogging application integrated with an existing data collection platform on a handheld device. We investigate whether microblogging accommodates the variable and unpredictable nature of highly mobile research and whether it represents a suitable mechanism to document the context of field research data early in the scientific information lifecycle.