Research Nexus Architecture

Principles/ Ethics

Research Nexus needs to be build on a simple, elegant and scalable architecture. Leveraging what we have learned from development projects like Git (https://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Git), we need to adapt the same principles to how research is conducted. This will be a constant work in progress, but the basic concept is always simple.

Research Nexus will be build as a blockchain project. Meaning, that all changes/transactions to the Nexus, will be logged. However, the Research Nexus is not anonymous. Actually, it is the complete opposite. Everyone, who wants to participate/ get access to the Nexus, needs to be registered with an E-Mail address with a domain, from the central, open research registry. Whatever a verified researchers does in the Research Nexus is therefore public. From uploading a data Pod, to changing an existing Pod, editing data, merging data, changing merged data pods, sending and receiving pull requests, rejecting or accepting pull requests. 

In other words, working in the Research Nexus is like research should actually be: completely transparent and open. We do realise, that this might now be in the interest of all researchers. However, every motivation not to share data, limits the overall global research velocity. So while we accept and even understand such motivations, we believe they are harming the research velocity. 

In turn, whatever is contributed to the Research Nexus, will also be logged and for ever be associated to a Nexus Author, who made the changes, provided pull-requests or uploaded data. Whenever data is downloaded, or merged, it will be logged forever. Meaning, it will always be transparent, where the data originated from. This way, reputation will be based not on name, journal, funding or publication quantity, but by simply contribution. 

We believe, contributing raw, quantitative data, will be one of the most important research contributions in the future. There is almost no question, we cannot answer, when we have the relevant data. Therefore, providing data, is one of the most essential and nobel parts of research.

Therefore, the foundation of the Research Nexus are:

  •  Changes and contributions can be made by any registered Nexus Author, with a verified domain from the Nexus Registry.
  • The Nexus Registry includes research institutions from around the world, that meet the required standards for contributing research data
  • All changes and contributions in the Research Nexus are logged following blockchain principles. Hence, the Research Nexus is completely open and transparent.
  • Submitting a Pod to the Research Nexus needs to follow the principle rules for Research Pods. Each researcher is responsible for complying, especially by having all rights to publish the data and making sure, that strict privacy laws are upheld on personal user data. The Research Nexus provides basic security features to delete all personal information that could relate the data to an individual person. 

Users/ Roles and Permissions

The permissions concept of the Nexus is quite simple:

  • A verified user (Nexus Author) has the permission to read the entire Research Nexus, including the blockchain. 
  • Each verified Nexus Author can create and update Pods. Pods cannot be deleted. They can be put inactive, however, the Pods will still be logged in the blockchain and can therefore be accessed.
  • Each Pod is always associated to one Nexus Author. In the meta-data of each Pod, the Nexus Author can add more contributors. However, all direct changes as well as pull-requests have to run through the Nexus Author that created the Pod. 
  • All changes post/put/update/ within the Pods will be logged in the blockchain
  • All data will be accessible, sharable, downloadable under the MIT open-source licence. Any access to the data, will be logged in the blockchain

Teams

Mostly, research is done in teams. Hence, Nexus authors can form teams. Teams can only consist of verified authors.

  • A team has the same roles and rights as an author to pods. 
  • Every change will be logged in the blockchain, both with the team and the author doing the update

Merging Data 

A center piece of the Research Nexus will be merging data from Pods to other Pods. Technically speaking, when data is merged, a new version of the Pod/Document is created and obviously logged in the blockchain.

  • Nexus Authors can merge entire Pods, or only specific documents or data sections. You can also merge a search. 
  • When data is merged, it can either be merged into an existing Pod, or Authors can create a new Pod for the merged data.
  • When author's update, edit or delete merged data, they have the option to send a pull-request to the originator's of the merged data. Pull-requests will always be send on the actual data-level. If an author merged the data from different pods, documents or actual data entries, the pull requests are directed on these levels to each of the pods levels. 
  • Each pull-request can be commented a data level if necessary.
  • Pull-requests can be accepted with another pull-request. Updating the merged version after the original version was updated with the pull request. 
  • Pull-requests work on the mapping (structure) of Pods and Documents, as well as on the Data level itself.

 

Work in Progress

This is just the current status of the concept. Please contribute questions, ideas, or comments.