Wikipedia defines “collaboration” as a “recursive process where two or more people or work together in an intersection of common goals”. This morning I learned about “online research collaboration tools.” These tools are all about making life easier for academics by enabling them to share research papers and to collaborate on research projects. I always associated academics with serious and determined people spending a lot of time in dusty libraries browsing through medieval journals or searching in complicated databases, looking for that one invaluable citation.
However, tools like Mendeley and Google Scholar help students and academics alike to easily access a wealth of articles, notes and citations. Thomson Reuters’ Web of Knowledge provides access to more than 40m research papers for users to explore. Some key features that most online research collaboration tools seem to have in common:
- Organise research libraries in secure collaboration spaces to share with others.
- Access to a wide range of papers, notes and citations.
- Ability to customise personal research libraries using tagging and smart filters.
- Sharing of “virtual sticky notes” with other researchers.
- Network with fellow researchers, finding the experts in your area of interest.
Overall, I guess the social element is what makes these research collaboration tools stand out from their more static predecessors. Users can now easily create a network of fellow researchers they want to share their research data with. However, pioneers like Mendeley’s Victor Henning and Neil Saunders are quick point to out that these tools are not about creating another social network but are about “making the data social.”
Main learning point: Online research collaboration tools will open up academia and help researchers and students to easily share knowledge and collaborate on research projects.
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