On IGDORE & Ronin
IGDORE has a clear focus on the latest best practices in research (i.e. open & transparent practices; fighting questionable research practices); all our researchers need to accept our code of conduct.
Ronin has a wider take-up than IGDORE and even more focus on researchers who don’t fit the traditional academic mold: researchers who want to work from home, part-time researchers, self-taught researchers.
I’m especially happy that Ronin also accepts the latter category of researchers; that is, people who have not received training the traditional way or may not have received any particular training at all. This is very important because there are a bunch of brilliant people out there who should have an institutional affiliation for their research. But I personally believe it’s also a bit problematic to the institution because of two reasons: How to assess someone’s methods skills? And, if accepting people who turn out to not know what they’re doing, then the whole institution could lose credibility (which ultimately also affects the other affiliated researchers).
However, if we would start assessing the skills of those without formal training, then we should also do the same for those with formal training. And then we will likely have a bunch of people with formal training who fail the tests. That will evoke lots of discussions and anger. I find this to be a very interesting issue and I do think it might be the proper way to do it in the future: to measure the skills instead of just assuming that someone with a certain formal degree has certain skills. For example, we do know from metascientific literature that a majority (sic!) of formally trained researchers seems to have got the basic assumptions of frequentist statistics all wrong (unless they cheat knowingly).
Measuring the skills instead of relying on formal training is frequently done in software organisations when hiring. My understanding is that many of the most skilled programmers don’t actually have much of a formal training (if any). My belief is that scientific research might not be that different.
Then we have the issue with institutional credibility. This may to some degree also be true for traditional universities, but arguably do researchers with formal degrees have much more own responsibility than researchers without formal degrees. Thus, issues resulting from lack of formal training will to a higher degree be a responsibility of the institution.
Thus, there are three reasons why I’m happy that Ronin is accepting scholars without formal training: (1) the science interested public can become even more interested in science by having the possibility to get a formal institutional affiliation, (2) because formal training is not a completely reliable measure of true methods and science skills, and (3) because IGDORE doesn’t have to do it when Ronin is doing it.
On the potential for collaborations
I haven’t actually given this much thought because IGDORE is still at a point where we are starting up and need to focus on building our own organisation. However, we do have plans on launching courses and programmes at some point in the future. The most visionary of our plans is a Massive Open Online Scientist Training (MOOST): free online training in scientific methods and statistics with the possibility of getting a formal doctoral degree through a partner institution. (I was actually gonna discuss the MOOST with you, Jo; stay tuned!)
Providing training and education is the primary way for all academic institutions, I think, to get financial stability for their affiliated researchers. But there might definitely be newer and more innovative ways too. Would love to hear ideas on that!