Tuesday 12pm, 9 February 2016


The Aspiring Researcher Challenge: An experiment in massive open online research (MOOR)

Rajan Vaish

Post-doctoral researcher - Stanford University


Research is a high skill and resource intensive activity, both in time and effort, and often follows an ad hoc process. In the academic research ecosystem, experienced researchers with novel ideas are constrained with limited resources; while many motivated students with exceptional skill lack direction or access to a research mentor. In this talk, I'll introduce "The Aspiring Researcher Challenge" - an experiment in massive open online research, that explores the possibility of research at scale by connecting three professors with more than 1,000 students from around the world. The process included series of research phases like: brainstorming, prototyping, development and user-evaluation to produce publishable results. Through our approach, student crowd were able to successfully publish three work-in-progress papers at top-tier conferences in computer science - ACM UIST and AAAI HCOMP; while a full paper is under review at ACM CHI. We believe that the project is a first step towards realizing research on a wider scale.


Rajan is a postdoctoral fellow at Stanford University, where he works with Sharad Goel and Amin Saberi in the MS&E department and collaborates with Michael Bernstein in the CS department. His research interests include HCI, crowdsourcing, social computing and education. He focuses on the aspects of mobilizing the citizen crowd and how we can leverage crowd potential to accomplish worthwhile global goals. In the past he has worked and collaborated with various groups at MSR Redmond, PARC, LANL, IBM Research, MSR India, Accenture Labs, Google SoC, OpenStreetMap and OLPC. Rajan earned his M.S. and Ph.D from UC Santa Cruz and is a recipient of the University of California Regents Fellowship.