Dr. Barry Markovsky (Sociology) and Dr. Jose M Vidal have received and NSF award for their research project "Web-based Tools for Developing and Accessing Sociological Theory." This project brings together researchers from the Sociology department and the Computer Science and Engineering department in order to design, implement and test a web-based system for developing, improving and disseminating sociological theories across all areas of the discipline.
“I see it as a cross between stackoverflow and the wikipedia, but targeted towards scientists” said Dr. Vidal. “Both of those sites are showing us how an online community can be formed and function successfully to aggregate the knowledge of many individuals. However, they are not without their drawbacks: stackoverflow enforces a very strick question-and-answers format, while the wikipedia actively discourages scientists from contributing on the topics they have the most expertise (their own research). Our system will try to overcome these limitations.” The researchers hope to build a system what will facilitate the development of improved Sociological, and later scientific, theories using proven incentives and knowledge aggregation methods.