Improving Online Research

2021-01-11 Contact and travel restrictions during the Corona pandemic make it difficult for scientists to collect data. Psychologist Prof. Dr. David Loschelder and business economist Dr. Meikel Soliman are therefore systematizing software tools for research. They are also planning an online wiki. There, students and scientists can test which software tool for data collection is best suited for their project.

Psychologist Prof. Dr. David Loschelder and Business Economist Dr. Meikel Soliman are standing on a balcony on leuphana campus. ©Leuphana, Marvin Sokolis
Prof. Dr. David Loschelder (left) and business economist Dr. Meikel Soliman (right) develop new tools for online-teaching and research.

Online teaching is one of the big issues in the Corona pandemic. But research has also been hit hard by the limitations. Data-driven disciplines in particular are struggling. Especially when it comes to measuring human behavior. Although there are now many online tools for psychological research, for example for conducting surveys, the range is confusing and there are also scientifically questionable tools, as David Loschelder reports: "In these offers, underpaid test subjects are surveyed on crowdsourcing platforms. This is often unethical and also provides qualitatively questionable data." Together with the Lab Manager of Leuphana Laboratories, Dr. Meikel Soliman, he is developing an application-oriented teaching and learning concept with online tutorials and videos that will be tested and evaluated. The results will then be made available to the public free of charge, for example on a wiki platform. The project "Strengthening Online Research Competencies - Development of a Digital Teaching and Learning Concept for Teaching Application-Oriented Conduct of Online Research Using Software Tools (OnResToCom)." is funded by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF). The aim of the project is to systematize the state of knowledge on the use of software tools in online research and to strengthen online research skills of students and scientists*. 

In May 2020, Meikel Soliman participated in the #SemesterHack. The team around the scientist was so convincing that the BMBF encouraged them to apply for funding to be able to implement the idea. The nationwide online hackathon aimed to improve digital higher education. The hackathon was jointly called by the Higher Education Forum on Digitization, the AI Campus and the German Academic Exchange Service, as well as numerous partner universities. Within 36 hours, participants were asked to come up with solutions to problems faced during the digital summer semester. Meikel Soliman came in second place with his team and their idea for an online platform for research tools. 

The cross-disciplinary platform not only aims to find the right online research tool to conduct surveys, experiments or psychological tests. "OnResToCom" could also improve research. "If surveys are only conducted in a specific setting, this can lead to a bias in the results. Better research tools can also help find more suitable study groups," explains David Loschelder. As a result, the platform will remain relevant and applicable beyond Lüneburg's stand boundaries even after the pandemic is over.