N=1 Experiment Database Project?

Answered on August 19, 2014
Created August 22, 2012 at 1:53 AM

I got to thinking about this. Wouldn't it be great if there was a place where people had a template to create, implement, run, record and then share their own N=1 experiences?

Obviously their would be limitations and the individuals would have great control over what gets shared. However, it would seem like some quality data could be gathered and shared in a easily identifiable way.

Is there anything out there like this, or at least any sort of software of web space that already allows something like this?

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3 Answers



on August 22, 2012
at 02:11 AM

There are several services out there to do things of this sort. We have tried to utilize social networking in observational studies... the problem is too many people try to game the system. Without objective, quantifiable results, it is impossible to get any value out of this.

For example. We asked how much students would study. When we correlated that to test scores we found that there was no correlation. We were excited, proof that the ability to learn was not associated with effort. Then we correlated to % of completed homework and there was almost a perfect linear correlation. So all these students claiming 1-2 hours of study per credit hour -- but they were not completing their homework assignments? I think not.

A database such as you are describing would get a multi-modal distribution for almost every experiment. You'd get the believers who would over-estimate their successes, then you'd get the razwell jerks who would purposefully try to scew the results the other way...

The other issue you will run into is standardization. We as patients recovering from back pain whether they were able to lift heavy objects comfortably. Well lifting and heavy and comfortably mean very different things to different people -- so the results are skewed due to poor standardization.



on August 22, 2012
at 04:07 AM

Great idea.

It's not that hard to run studies like meal type vs satiety. You could ask the participant to simply take a picture of their plate and then report how many hours before they felt a need to eat again including capturing confounders such as activity, time of day, etc.

Once again, great idea. Don't be discouraged. It's all about making the appropriate study design and taking into account the strengths and weaknesses of self reporting via an online system.



on August 22, 2012
at 01:14 PM

It sounds a bit like an online version of Mark Sisson's 90-day journal but in a shared form. I think it would be really cool if someone could build something like that. I don't think it would be 100% scientifically accurate because you are relying on people to enter their own data.

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