OAD Ideas List

The OAD Ideas List – seeking your help to make the OAD better…

This is like our ideal to do list for the OAD – stuff that we would really like to implement because we believe it would make the OAD better – but we simply don’t have the hands to do it. We’re therefore putting it out there in the hopes that some of the many awesome people in the world could help us implement some of these ideas. If you are very keen you could also score an OAD Visiting Fellowship and come spend some time at the energetic OAD headquarters in Cape Town. We’re hoping to host OAD virtual hack sessions online as well – watch this space!

We’re also open to your suggestions of course. If you have some cool ideas that could make the OAD better please do send it to us (info@astro4dev.org) and we can brainstorm together before adding it to this list. 

1)      Development of a volunteer management system: An online tool that will enable astronomy volunteers to match up with education volunteer opportunities automatically. To prevent reinvention we could just integrate with www.volunteermatch.org using their APIs.

2)      Recommended projects platform: The OAD needs volunteers to hack together an online platform that will enable potential funders or supporters to easily search the list of recommended OAD projects for tags, keywords, location, funds needed, etc. This platform could allow for crowdfunding or volunteer matching.

3)      Method for managing projects online: As the number of projects funded through the OAD increases there is a need for an online project management system which is as lightweight and user friendly as possible. Such a system should aim at making it easier for project leaders to capture their statistics, manage their funds and produce reports. It should absolutely not add an undesirable level of administration to their work. Some innovation is therefore needed over what is traditionally available.

4)      Popular project funding: There are many projects around the world which we would love to fund if we had more money. Besides the current method of selecting projects to fund through “expert” panels the OAD would like to fund one or two “popular” projects. We therefore need someone to hack together a secure system of voting where projects with the most votes can receive “popular project” funding that we reserve from the grants pool.

5)      Open access journal for project reports: The idea is simple – we need a way to capture the best practice of all the funded projects in order to ensure that in 5 years time we don’t simply have people reinventing what someone else has already done. We need someone to put together some sort of open access journal, or simply research how we should join an existing journal, along with a process that will ensure accurate capturing of best practice from our funded projects.

6)      Platform for young astronomers (mentees/mentors): At every IAU General Assembly a successful series of young astronomer events are held which essentially link young researchers with more experienced ones. In this age of efficient communication across distance we would like to establish a platform that takes such interactions online and allows for links to be made between mentors/mentees on a continuous basis.

7)      Translations:  There are several key items in need of translation and volunteers are invited to contribute. Some examples are: the IAU strategic plan, the OAD website, the OAD glossy brochure and flyer, OAD general presentations, OAD newsletters, etc. Please get in touch if you are able to translate or proof read a translation.

8)      Promote the OAD at a conference/institution: The OAD is constantly looking for volunteers who are willing to deliver a talk or disseminate information at the many astronomy conferences and institutions around the world. If you are based at an astronomical institution, could you deliver a lunch talk on the OAD? If you are attending a conference, could you take a poster on the OAD activities? Or perhaps deliver a talk on our behalf? Perhaps you would like to host an astro4dev topic on a Google Hangout you run?

9)      Guest blogs: What are your thoughts on astro4dev type activities? Have you had an experience you would like to share? Guest bloggers always welcome on the OAD website.

10)  Help communicate astro4dev stories: The OAD and its networks are a gold mine of good news stories and interesting anecdotes, not to mention tons of really cool photos. If you have ideas about how to tap into those stories and spread them, your assistance will be most welcome.

11)  Website overhaul: Every now and then we need to do a refresh on the website. If you have the skills or ideas to help us keep up with trends and times, please do shout. Some of the ideas above could be incorporated into a whole new look for the OAD website.

12)  Crowd sourced proof reading: A sad reality in the world of astronomy (probably in most sciences) is that since most publications are in English, researchers who are not native English speakers or who do not have excellent English writing skills may be negatively biased when submitting scientific papers for review. The idea here is to crowd source English proof reading for scientific papers written by non-first-language-English-speakers. Since the proof reader will focus on English and does not necessarily need to have a scientific background this is also a way of including the public in the path of a research paper.

13)  Simple system of publishing proceedings of TF1 workshops: Task Force 1 (Universities and Research) tend to support several workshops where presentations are delivered by young astronomical communities in a particular region. Although there are ways of publishing formal proceedings, these paths are not always accessible to the budding communities coordinating such events. This idea involves the development of a simple system to publish the proceedings of a small-scale workshop. Such a system should aim to serve both as a way to get the papers recorded but also as a stepping stone/learning process towards a more formal publication of proceedings.

14)  AstroPack: This is a Task Force 2 initiated project to collect and disseminate astronomy resources from institutes around the world to developing regions. Someone needs to contact institutes and requests, and coordinate the shipping.

15)  Survey of projects funded through the OAD: This may be of interest to social scientists or monitoring and evaluation gurus. The OAD is building a list of funded projects (currently 41). What interesting information can be gathered from project leaders? What could we learn from these projects that could help enhance astro4dev efforts? This is quite an open project – we have the study group, let’s brainstorm on the study.

16)  Crowd sourcing the full cycle: This is an interesting concept. Imagine if we can develop a way to crowd source, or at least significantly distribute, the entire call for proposals process. In other words, the crowd proposes the project, the crowd selects the project, the crowd funds the project, the crowd implements the project, the crowd monitors and evaluates the outcomes of the project. Now how could this happen while maintaining the integrity and quality of implementing astro4dev activities? Lots of thinking and strategising required on this one!

17) Astronomy for development short course: Free online course on astronomy for development or perhaps broader science for development. Covering the basics of the field that one doesn’t necessarily pick up in other courses at university. This could be picked up and integrated as a module within an astronomy or science degree.

18) Hangouts or online discussions on OAD topics e.g. M&E Framework: Host Google Hangouts or other to discuss topics relevant to OAD projects.