Today we move on to collaboration tools. I’ve been thinking about this topic a lot, because much of the research support I provide involves helping teams of academics who are researching, writing up, and publishing their work as a group, so I need to make sure the resources they’re using are suited to multiple users, who are frequently scattered around the world at different universities. I try as much as I can to get the researchers to use web-based, collaborative tools at every stage of the research process.
DMP Online is a free website where users can create data management plans according to various templates based on funding bodies’ requirements. If a particular funder’s template isn’t provided, there is a generic template that can be used.
I always encourage researchers to use a web-based reference manager such as Zotero, or EndnoteWeb. If they opt for a desktop-based reference manager, they should make sure there are cloud-based backups available, and that the software has the ability to share references with collaborators.
In terms of writing up, researchers are frequently moving beyond the emailed Word document attachment – where tracking changes and version control are very difficult. A lot of people use Google Docs, but I was also recently introduced to Authorea and Overleaf, which are LaTex-based, online collaborative writing tools. They even have templates for various journals, so users can write using a particular journal’s style guidelines and submit something correctly cited and formatted for that journal.
I do a lot of collaborative work in the day-to-day tasks for my job, and I’m keen to use some form of project-management software. Other library colleagues use Trello or Asana, and I’d be interested in hearing about people’s experiences using these, or any other similar resources.
Other collaborative tools I’ve used either personally or professionally include Skype and Facetime for meetings (or just catching up with family and friends), and Survey Monkey for scheduling training and gathering feedback.