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Turning Participatory Microbiome Research into Usable Data: Lessons from the American Gut Project

    Authors: Justine W. Debelius1, Yoshiki Vázquez-Baeza2, Daniel McDonald1, Zhenjiang Xu1, Elaine Wolfe1, Rob Knight1,2,*
    VIEW AFFILIATIONS HIDE AFFILIATIONS
    Affiliations: 1: Department of Pediatrics, University of California, San Diego, CA 92110; 2: Department of Computer Science and Engineering, University of California, San Diego, CA 92093-0404
    AUTHOR AND ARTICLE INFORMATION AUTHOR AND ARTICLE INFORMATION
    • Published 01 March 2016
    • ©2016 Author(s). Published by the American Society for Microbiology.
    • [open-access] This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International license (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/4.0/legalcode), which grants the public the nonexclusive right to copy, distribute, or display the published work.

    • *Corresponding author. Mailing address: 9500 Gilman Drive MC 0763, La Jolla, CA 92093-0763. Phone: 858-822-2379. Fax: 858-246-1981. E-mail: robknight@ucsd.edu.
    Source: J. Microbiol. Biol. Educ. March 2016 vol. 17 no. 1 46-50. doi:10.1128/jmbe.v17i1.1034
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    Abstract:

    The role of the human microbiome is the subject of continued investigation resulting in increased understanding. However, current microbiome research has only scratched the surface of the variety of healthy microbiomes. Public participation in science through crowdsourcing and crowdfunding microbiome research provides a novel opportunity for both participants and investigators. However, turning participatory science into publishable data can be challenging. Clear communication with the participant base and among researchers can ameliorate some challenges. Three major aspects need to be considered: recruitment and ongoing interaction, sample collection, and data analysis. Usable data can be maximized through diligent participant interaction, careful survey design, and maintaining an open source pipeline. While participatory science will complement rather than replace traditional avenues, it presents new opportunities for studies in the microbiome and beyond.

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/content/journal/jmbe/10.1128/jmbe.v17i1.1034
2016-03-01
2017-06-26

Abstract:

The role of the human microbiome is the subject of continued investigation resulting in increased understanding. However, current microbiome research has only scratched the surface of the variety of healthy microbiomes. Public participation in science through crowdsourcing and crowdfunding microbiome research provides a novel opportunity for both participants and investigators. However, turning participatory science into publishable data can be challenging. Clear communication with the participant base and among researchers can ameliorate some challenges. Three major aspects need to be considered: recruitment and ongoing interaction, sample collection, and data analysis. Usable data can be maximized through diligent participant interaction, careful survey design, and maintaining an open source pipeline. While participatory science will complement rather than replace traditional avenues, it presents new opportunities for studies in the microbiome and beyond.

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