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- Heande is a password-protected website for scientific mass collaboration. Technically, it is a wiki workspace that consists of descriptive pages about scientific questions, attempts to answer the questions, and current hypotheses about the answers. The current answers are also stored in a quantitative form into a database called Opasnet Base. Opasnet Base is also used to store, analyse, distribute, and archive original research data. The methods and information structures in Heande are identical to those in Opasnet. The main difference is that while the participation and usage of information in Opasnet is free, the users of Heande must accept its basic rule: the usage of information within Heande is free, but if you want to publish anything that is found in Heande outside Heande, you must make an explicit agreement about publishing with the original producers of that information. Heande is maintained and developed by the National Institute for Health and Welfare (the Department of Environmental Health, located in Kuopio, Finland).
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Heande can be used for all kinds of information collection, analysis, and synthesis in science. It has functionalities both for analysing and computing the research data and for discussing and arguing the implications of the data and previous information. Heande is seamlessly connected to Opasnet which is a similar website but for open use and public material.
The work is based on the method of open assessment, where the research is divided into distinct research questions. Each research question is presented as an information object (typically a variable or method) on its own web page. All information objects have a uniform structure (name=identifier, scope=research question, definition=information for finding an answer, result=current hypothesis about the true answer). In principle, any scientific information can be presented in this form. The Heande website is a protected website for collaboration related to unpublished material. After publishing, the material is moved to the Opasnet website, which is open for everyone. However, original data that is not published together with articles, may remain on the Heande website.
Major functionalities of Heande include a method for formal argumentation about scientific disputes; flexible page-level read and write protection by the owner of a project or piece of data; a large file management system for material that is not formatted according to the open assessment method (e.g. PDF publications and CSV data files); and a result database for quantitative results, which can then be used to derive results for other variables.
The users of Heande must accept one basic rule:
- The usage of information within Heande is free, but if you want to publish anything that is found in Heande outside Heande, you must make an explicit agreement about publishing with the original producers of that information.
Such agreements are warmly encouraged, as they are believed to result in new fruitful collaboration and more and better publications than what the original owner could have achieved alone.
It should be understood that this rule applies also to information that you have received from elsewhere but that is found within Heande. This means that before publishing new things, you should make sure that nobody is working on the same thing in Heande. Only this way we can make sure that if an unfortunate information theft occurs, we can show that the information was possessed by another person in Heande at the time of publishing, and that the person who published it was aware of this information in Heande.
The ownership of a piece of information remains with the person who originally brought the information into the Heande system. Therefore, there is a strict rule that people are only allowed to bring in information that is owned by them, unless it is publicly available (in which case, it should be stored in Opasnet).
There is also new information that is created directly from collaboration on the website. There should be a fair way to determine the ownership (and thus scientific merit and authorships in subsequent articles) of this kind of information. Established procedures do not yet exist, but one of the tasks the Erac community is to develop these procedures.
The Heande website and community was launched separately in several research projects, notably in the Environmental Risk Assessment Centre (ERAC) (under that name) in November, 2006. The first project in the Erac website was Finmerac about metal health and ecological risks around Harjavalta industrial park. The different projects gradually shifted from project-specific, separate wiki systems to a common workspace. Heande is maintained and developed by the National Institute for Health and Welfare (the Department of Environmental Health, located in Kuopio, Finland).
How to join?
If you are interested in collaborating with other scientists on topics that have not yet been published, Heande might be the right place for you.
Most researchers in the Erac community are working on the fields of environment or health. However, this is not a limitation, and we encourage people from other disciplines to join. If you are interested, please contact Jouni Tuomisto.
Practical advice for working in Heande
To make the work run smoothly, the following practical rules are recommended:
- When some piece of information has become public, it should be removed from Heande and located into Opasnet instead. This reduces possible conflicts by clarifying what information is public and what is not.
- The users of Heande should keep themselves informed about the contents about their own field in Heande. This is especially important before publishing anything.
- To make it easy to follow the development in Heande, all work to improve the structure of the information and add useful links between pieces of information is highly appreciated.
- The users of Heande are encouraged to form groups of people that are interested in similar topics. This enhances the information flow and natural collaboration, and also reduces the risk of conflicts when disputes arise.
There are several projects that are partly or fully collaborating in Opasnet and Heande.
- Beneris: benefit-risk assessment of food (2005-2009)
- Intarese: environmental health impact assessments in Europe: method development (2005-2010).
- Heimtsa: environmental health impact assessment: European policy assessments (2006-2011).
- Finmerac: health and ecological risks of metal emissions from metal industry (2006-2008).
- Hiwate: microbial and chemical risks of drinking water (2007-2010).
- Bioher: health impacts of small-scale biofuel use in municipalities in Finland (2008-2011).
- Claih: health impacts of air pollution and climate change in Finland (2009-2012).
- Bepraribean: benefit-risk assessment of foods: learning from other disciplines (2009-2011).
- Heande website (password protected)