If we are to fully embrace the benefits of the multitude of online sharing/collaboration tools, we should capitalize on them for meetings within an institution to streamline and improve collective efficiency (i.e. open collaboration is not only for big conference seminars or fieldwork). The annual and sometimes bi-annual progress reports are a perfect opportunity to test a new collaboration model that is more outward facing, transparent, and streamlined.
1. REPORT. Complete progress report and send to supervisor, committee, and all collaborators (within lab and extended) 5 business days in advance (to provide adequate review time).
(a) Provide both a word doc and PDF version. Sometimes Microsoft files are a still a challenge to open across machines. Many folks prefer the PDF because of the clean form, fixed presentation of inserted graphics, and nice annotation tools available on tablets to take notes at the report or meeting.
(b) In only this instance, send as an email with attachment. However, always send a follow-up email without attachments indicating that just shared files with them. Sometimes, spam filters block emails with these attachments.
(c) (Optional). Consider posting your progress report to the blog/lab notebook and sharing the the link with the committee. Some folks however may not be keen to click an external link.
2. SLIDE DECK. Prepare your presentation in your app of choice. Post to slideshare 5 days in advance. If you elect to use prezi, share the link.
(a) Ensure you list all co-authors.
(b) Use appropriate tags & post a description otherwise reader is drawn more to the transcript.
(c) Share the deck.
(d) Post whatever version that you have 5 days in advance even if you meet with your supervisor/lab collaborators after that date. Slideshare supports overwriting with newer versions, and you can thus upload a revised version at a later date.
(e) Select an appropriate title both for the deck before you upload and within slideshare. Set permissions to allow downloading.
3. DATASETS. Upload systematic review datasets (even scoping reviews) and all preliminary/supporting data that you use/include/mention/visualize in the progress report. Post to drive, include meta-data, and structure folders appropriately. Even if you have only the structural attributes of the dataset for an experiment proposed, prepare and share. It is a fantastic exercise to see what the file will look like and read through meta-data as a means to refine methodological details.
4. QUESTIONS. Progress reports are intended to be reciprocally beneficial to you and your committee. Prepare a list of questions and post to the blog/lab notebook here a few days in advance of the progress report preferably before the practice talk. This will stimulate discussion, provide a guide for the audience, and get your supervisor and collaborations in the right frame of mind to provide the feedback you need. Focus on questions that are not open-ended and you would like to see discussed or that you view as important decisions that you have made or need to make and would like to secure input/confirmation on.
Benefits of new workflow for progress report meetings
1. We have a record of ideas posted to the blog/lab notebook.
2. We can share deck and ideas with collaborators outside the lab/institution.
3. All members of the lab and team can see the supporting the evidence.
4. There be similar questions that emerge across projects.
5. We have streamlined and reduced email traffic to only 1 set (report email with link to deck & confirmation of receipt email).
6. We engender and embody the spirit of positive and open science in our meetings.