What do observers think about the possibility of a dedicated "Collaboration Forum"? The purpose of this Forum would be something along the lines of "to propose, discuss and plan scientifically meaningful variable star projects (visual and CCD) for amateur-amateur and/or professional-amateur collaboration, resulting in potential publication." In the recent Strategic and Operations Survey, "Networking and Collaboration" ranked only 15 out of the 16 numerically based Survey Items. A majority of the comments about this survey topic were about a general lack of collaboration and poor guidance in personal observing projects.
How do we improve collaboration? What are the problem areas in variable star science that require more research, data and analysis? What specific projects would professionals nominate or suggest for Masters or PhD candidates? Many observers are at a loss in selecting such projects. Yet many amateurs desire project suggestions and guidance and wish to make scientifically meaningful contributions. Such a forum could help improve this situation, but it would require input from both professionals and amateurs alike. In doing so, amateur to amateur and amateur to professional networking and joint collaboration would improve.
Collaboration should be more than just amateurs responding to professional requests for observations. It should be a proactive process, from the bottom up, as well as the top down. Amateurs working in isolation have published very respectable results. If working together with guidance, they could produce so much more. How do we network, educate and provide guidance to amateurs on scientifically meaningful variable star projects? Your comments and suggestions are solicited.
This inquiry was initially sent to AAVSO Staff for consideration and it was suggested that I post this topic here in the Campaigns and Observation Reports Forum section for your comments and discussion. I for one, see merit in this endeavor.
Kevin B. Paxson - PKV