When I was doing my PhD some 3 years ago, the only collaborative tool we used was Google Docs. We started using it only towards the end of my PhD (2010) and it really improved the way we co-authored research articles. Today there are quite a lot of amazing new websites and tools for research.
This morning I noticed a recent review of the emerging tools “that are changing (or have the potential of changing) the way researchers do and communicate their work,” says the author, Thomas Crouzier. The article was published this month in Trends in Biochemical Sciences (TIBS), in the Science & Society section.
Cloud-based research tools
The first point discussed by Thomas Crouzier is the potential of cloud-based services for scalabity and rapid exchange of large amounts of information. The author lists research management tools such as Labguru, as well as multidisciplinary social-media platforms (including MyScienceWork, of course). There is also a nice list of specialized and thematic services that will update our own list of digital tools for research (Addgene, PlasmID, Protocol.io, Slideshare and Figshare, etc.)
Mobility, too, is noted as a key benefit of these services for collecting, storing and sharing data, “whether at the bench or in the field.” French startup Shazino is also listed here.
And, of course, calculation power is also provided by shared storage infrastructures, with RunMyCode and Plotly being mentioned here. I am really eager to try the latter.
The challenge of adoption by users (aka researchers) and institutions
“The change in habits and increase in user adoption will come with time and with the consolidation of the industry, which will lead to fewer but more trustworthy services,” Thomas Crouzier believes.
It’s an exciting time for those interested in innovation in the digital science field. Communication, collaboration and research itself are being reinvented. It will just take time for users to try out these new tools, make them theirs, and improve or select those that will fit their needs best.
As a last point, but not least, Crouzier mentions institutions, governments and European research agencies now supporting these news tools also as a way for them to monitor spending, track and manage production and data and, finally, enhance the impact of research through better communication and diffusion.
There’s a new research system ahead of us. Let’s try out the exciting, new possibilities to build a more transparent, open and efficient research.