If you are a researcher not currently involved in COVID-19 research, you can help with different levels of involvement (even with virtually no involvement at all).
Just follow these steps:
Fill in a short form so that we have your contact information and your skills on file (it takes 3 minutes). If you only do this step, we will only contact you if your specific skills are needed.
In addition to completing the survey in step 1, you can subscribe to our task-distribution mailing list. You will then receive periodic e-mails with descriptions of tasks that need to be done. There is no commitment for signing up.
How does this work?
A small group of coordinators receive requests from COVID-19 researchers, and identify other scientists who can fulfill those requests. You can be one of those scientists (or become a coordinator, if you have the right skills and are willing to make that commitment).
What kind of tasks will I perform?
It depends a lot on your skills and availability. We may contact you to ask a very specific question related to your discipline, or to ask if you know someone else who can answer it. Other tasks are time intensive, such as manually curating or transcribing data.
How many emails will I receive if I sign up to the list?
For now, very few (perhaps none). We will try to contact only those volunteers most suited for each task, and we may not use the general task distribution list at all. Depending on the amount and types of requests, we will use it more or less often.
Will I get credited for my work?
We consider this as a donation to humankind at a difficult time, so you must expect receiving less credit than for your usual scientific work. However:
Can I be paid?
Not by us (we have no money). In special circumstances in which the task requires funding or infrastructure, we may work with the requesting team and/or funding bodies to secure funding. But in general, your time will not be paid.
Is anyone making money out of this?
Certainly not us, and probably nobody. The researchers benefiting from your work belong to non-profit organizations (universities, research institutes, etc.). If any for-profit organization approaches us, we will discuss the terms explicitly (and you will know). Patents emerging from the research may give money to the researchers you're helping and their institutions. Unless explicitly discussed beforehand, we (and this "we" includes you) will have no part in that.
Who owns the results I generate?
The researcher who requested the task. This must be 100% clear. We just donate our time and expertise to help them with their project, which remains fully under their control (unless explicitly agreed beforehand).
Can I be liable for anything? What if I make a mistake?
No, you're not liable. The responsibility to check the correctness of the results will remain with the researchers assigning the task, and/or with other sufficiently skilled researchers. Also, we will double-check critical results before sending them back.
Do I need any specific equipment?
None you don't already have.
I don't think my skills can be useful for COVID-19 research...
Please, sign up anyway. One of our aims is to facilitate collaborations with distant disciplines, which would be the most difficult to organize without our help. So it's important to have you in our database in case you're needed. Also, many tasks may not require specialized skills.
I'm not a scientist. Can I still help?
Yes, you can fill in the form and sign up. Some tasks may require volunteers with non-scientific skills.
Do I need to commit? What if I get busy and cannot contribute as much as I thought?
There is no commitment right now. If we ask you to perform a specific task, then we may ask you for a commitment (different tasks will require different levels of commitment).
I have another question
You can ask us directly at firstname.lastname@example.org