Collaborate, Create, Communicate

Research Data Management, Cookbooks and Wikis

Thomas Metz from IRRI is leading a KS pilot project about collecting, publishing, and sharing good practices in research data management. Thomas is building this information and capacity building resource in wiki format. He is also supporting the development a Community of Practice around the wiki. In an interview this week, I asked Thomas to tell us about his perception of wikis, their usefulness, potential, and weaknesses.

Here is an excerpt of his reply:
We have decided to use the wiki technology for the collection and publishing of those good practices. When I talk about this process, I frequently use the analogy of cooking and cookbooks. While most of use have some basic cooking skills, we need recipes in order to cook a descent meal. Expert cooks have published their lifelong experiences in the form of cookbooks for us to use. Our collection of good practices in research data management aims at just that, a cookbook with expert recipes for data management. The wiki technology helps us to do this collaboratively, incrementally and quickly. […] We need many contributors, but we need to keep the transaction costs for contributing as low as possible. Wikis are very good at reducing the transaction cost for individual contributions, especially small incremental contributions. On the other hand, wikis can’t be easily managed in the sense of a central control over content and contributors. In that sense, the use of a wiki gets us into some new territory that may be out of the comfort zone for some. However, the newer generation has a completely different attitude to contributing content that is visible on the web and we believe that we just need time, patience and support to introduce this new way of web-based collaboration.”

Read the complete interview