Team:ETH Zurich/human/essay/adaptation


Revision as of 03:16, 18 October 2014 by Meistefa (Talk | contribs)

Going further

In this part, we analyze the methods we used to answer our human practice question. We hope that this analysis will provide iGEMers material to think about their policy and practice project.

The internet as a media allowed us to reach more than 800 persons willing to participate in our survey. We thank each participant for its support! We are also grateful for all the people that provided us with additional comments; no matter whether these were suggestions for publications to read, complaints about the complexity of the survey or encouraging words.

We called for other iGEM team's solidarity for the survey. The idea of winning a badge for the wiki was appealing to many of them. The teams were motivated to participate as often as time allowed, since we introduced a two badge system (a colorful badge for 20 answers and a golden badge for 50 answers). In fact, two teams, namely the iGEM team Hannover and the iGEM team SDU Denmark, handed in more than 50 filled in surveys. We are impressed and grateful!
We did not define a target population, as we were too ambitious and wanted to cover all subgroups of society. However, the data set we collected is strongly biased towards students. It could be interesting to particularly design a survey concerning this part of the population.
Our goal was to learn more about the people's understanding of complexity and emergence. Even though our survey included spaces for own answers, most people chose one of the preformed answers. It would be interesting to encourage people to express themselves, so as to receive more individual answers. One option could be to ask people on the streets to answer one question, e.g.: "what is complexity for you?". Audio or video records of the interviews could be used to supplement the survey study. It would be strongly dependent on the country of investigation but it could give some unexpected insights on the topic. Moreover, it would give an occasion to increase awareness of the public on synthetic biology.
First, we would like to thank every person that accepted to answer our questions.
As one of our goals was to investigate how complexity is taken into account in different fields, interviews seemed to be the best way to get a broad overview of different fields. We achieved to get seven personal and professional points of view about complexity. It was highly interesting to explore in details different conceptions of complexity in scientific and non-scientific fields.
An interesting interview is not self-evident. It is advisable to practice the dialogue before the real interview so as to make full use of the meeting with the interviewee. Recording the interviews could provide raw material of interest.
We managed to have diverse outreach projects targeting several population groups, from high school students to elder people.
If outreach is an interesting task in itself, it could be advisable to stick to a more strictly defined theme or topic to be more consistent. For instance, focusing on activities for a certain age group or on media outreach through television, audio and newsletter could give a coherent whole and give rise to multiple interpretations.
Literature Work
Defining a question to answer is a difficult starting point. One has to screen literature hoping to find interesting, promising hints. Being mentored in the first part could avoid a team to go into a dead end.
As many iGEM teams we were extremely busy with our project. Reading of scientific literature on the topic of human practice is probably one of the first things to be missed out. Doing a weekly journal club on human practice could broaden the horizon of all team members and allow them to discover interesting new points of view.