The power of low-cost international collaborative studies: collecting data to challenge existing assumptions regarding thermal perception scales

The power of low-cost international collaborative studies: collecting data to challenge existing assumptions regarding thermal perception scales

This data arose from an idea that came to me shortly before presenting initial results of a small study at an international meeting under the auspices of the International Energy Agency in Seoul. My project partners Susanne Becker, Xaver Fuchs, Karin Schakib-Ekbatan, and I had conducted a small experimental study in Karlsruhe, Germany, using a novel free-positioning feedback scale to assess the perception of participants voting in thermal comfort studies. Given the collaborative nature of Energy, Buildings and Communities Annexes by IEA, I took the freedom to propose to the group of Annex 69 a joint international application of this method. I was not sure whether this would be of interest for anyone, and was pleasantly surprised to see 13 researchers immediately volunteer to joining in an international comparative research program. This initial group – later called core group – consisted of Rucha Amin, Susanne Becker, Joon-Ho Choi, Chungyoon Chun, Stephanie Gauthier, Runa T. Hellwig, Gesche Hübner, Jungsoo Kim, Meng‐Chieh Jeffrey Lee, Di Mou, Karin Schakib-Ekbatan, David Shipworth, and Despoina Teli.

The core group critically evaluated all aspects of the free-positioning task and had several intense and fruitful discussions regarding details of a suitable questionnaire, how to apply the method internationally. With seven language versions piloted, a pre-analysis plan submitted, and being about to start the application, we decided to ask Prof. Fergus Nicol whether he can send out a call for participation to the mailing list of NCEUB. We were hoping for a few more participants, bringing in potential applications from other parts of the world so far not covered by us. I believe none of us expected what happened next. Over the next weeks, more than 30 researchers and teams willing to participate approached me. Many of them translated the questionnaire into their native language; all of them applied the questionnaire and shared their data for a joint analysis. In the end, we are a group of 97 researchers from 29 countries, developed 21 language versions of the same questionnaire, and collectively gathered over 8,000 data sets – all of this without specific funding to do so. All materials and data are described in the article published today and available open access.

The publication of this dataset and data description in Scientific Data together with additional follow-up publication plans contributed to enhancing the international collaboration across all the borders of intellectual embargos, national protections and securities, and any reserved liaison between the countries of participating researchers. At the same time, we hope that the intense cooperation and research dialogue across borders enhance knowledge and appreciation of the diversity in languages, cultures, and climates and their relationship to desired variations in thermal perception.

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