This is one of a series of research projects in which colleagues and I have experimented with ways of engaging the community in building shared knowledge/understandings. We have had varying levels of success, and we have tried to work out what works well.
For example, in 2011 I published this paper, in which two initiatives were compared, together with my colleague, Jocelyn Wishart. In the abstract we say that: … in both, there were fewer contributions than anticipated and the quality of a large proportion of the contributions was disappointing.
In a similar paper, published here, I also looked at an initiative that involved a research community. Once again, the paper concludes that ‘…the pattern of contributions can be described as ‘scattergun’ and although there were some exceptions, generally discussion not sustained and contributions were not very substantive’ (p 433)
In this project, I am attempting to build on some of the lessons learnt both within my own research and from the literature. One of my key challenges is to get people to contribute to the discussion, and this is much more difficult than one might think. One thing I am trying is to keep the entry-threshold relatively low (i.e. I am not asking people to read too much before they can engage). The risk of this strategy, however, is over-simplification of complex and difficult ideas.