Collaborating neuroscience online: The case of the Human Brain Project forum

PLoS One. 2022 Dec 7;17(12):e0278402. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0278402. eCollection 2022.

Abstract

This paper analyzes user interactions on the public-access online forum of the Human Brain Project (HBP), a major European Union-funded neuroscience research initiative, to understand the utility of the Forum for collaborative problem solving. We construct novel data using discussion forum posts and detailed user profiles on the HBP Forum. We find that HBP Forum utilization is comparable to that of a leading general-interest coding platform, and that online usage metrics quickly recovered after an initial Covid-19-related dip. Regression results show that user interactions on the Forum are more active for questions on programming and in HBP core areas. Further, Cox proportional hazard analyses show that such problems are solved faster. Forum posts with users from different countries tend to be discussed more actively but solved slower. Higher shares of administrator support tend to solve problems faster. There are no clear patterns regarding gender and seniority. Our results suggest that building novel collaborative forums can support researchers working on complex topics in challenging times.

MeSH terms

  • Brain
  • COVID-19*
  • European Union
  • Humans
  • Neurosciences*

Grants and funding

The authors received no specific funding for this work.