I often bang on about how useful twitter is for crowd-sourcing a research community. Today I was reminded of quite brilliant the people on twitter can be at helping to overcome an ‘I don’t know where to start’-type information problem.
I’m currently helping to design an fMRI study which could benefit considerably from the application of multivoxel pattern analysis (MVPA). Having no practical experience with MVPA means I’m trying to figure out what I need to do to make the MVPA bit of the study a success. After a few hours of searching, I have come across and read a number of broad theoretical methods papers, but nothing that gives me the confidence that anything I come up with will be viable. Of course, there’s no right way of designing a study, but there are a tonne of wrong ways, and I definitely want to avoid those.
So, I turned to twitter:
Twitter help please. Can anyone recommend a beginner’s guide to fMRI MVPA, from trial counts required to software, analysis steps etc? — Akira O’Connor (@akiraoc) January 23, 2013
Relays and Retweets from @hugospiers, @zarinahagnew and @neuroconscience led to the following tweets coming my way (stripped of @s for ease of reading… kind of).
Our lab works with min 40 trials per condition for MVPA. I think there is a poster out there maybe from the Haxby group on this. — M Barnett-Cowan (@multisensebrain) January 23, 2013
Sounds about right – depends a LOT on task/design though. Could perhaps get away with less. — Matt Wall (@m_wall) January 23, 2013
Sure, I could have come up with as many articles to read by typing “MVPA” into Google Scholar (as I have done in the past), but the best thing about my twitter-sourced reading list is that I’m confident it’s pitched at the right level.
I’m humbled by how generous people are with their time, and glad so many friendly academics are on twitter. I hope collegiality and friendliness like this encourages many more to join our ranks.