1. Limited time only! Sign up for a free 30min personal tutor trial with Chegg Tutors
    Dismiss Notice
Dismiss Notice
Join Physics Forums Today!
The friendliest, high quality science and math community on the planet! Everyone who loves science is here!

Has anybody taken part in online collaborations writing a scientific paper ?

  1. Jun 9, 2012 #1
    Has anybody taken part in online collaborations writing a scientific paper ? experiences ?

    Just what the title says really. Im collaborating with a programmer and a mathematician (myself biophysics) on a computational neuroscience paper. Ill be lead author as the primary concept is mine, and im organizing the project. Its a pure science project amongst enthusiasts who know each other through online groups. Two of us are doing PhD. Our mathematician is an older gent, im not sure of his qualifications but his online websites clearly show his fluency in a lot of high level math domains.

    I have read a few papers where the authors produced it by passing it round and each contributor added their part/corrections etc. Its increasingly common now from what i understand.

    Anybody got any experience in this area, i.e. Actually did it and what are the dos and donts, potential pitfalls etc ?

    Thanks in advance

  2. jcsd
  3. Jun 9, 2012 #2


    User Avatar
    Gold Member

    Yep. My collaborators live in Finland and in upstate NY. We have never met in real life. We used emails and copied each other on every transmission. I took care of data-mining the imaging, the fellow from Finland took care of the database (redshifts and galaxy sizes) and the fellow from NY refereed any questions that we might have had. It took 2 years to produce a paper that way, but it was worth it.
    Last edited: Jun 9, 2012
  4. Jun 9, 2012 #3

    Vanadium 50

    User Avatar
    Staff Emeritus
    Science Advisor
    Education Advisor
    2017 Award

    Well, one piece of advice is "wait until the paper is finished before badmouthing your collaborators."

    Another is that it's probably not wise to badmouth one collaborator in a message looking for others. :eek:
  5. Jun 9, 2012 #4
    I guess that is one aspect that was on my mind. What might seem like an easy project that could be done in a season, may take far longer on-line, especially if the subject is complex, so project management needs to be competent for the long haul.

    In that sense it has to be important that everybody involved is pretty motivated for the project and the focus is well defined, or the management of the project has to take into account some co-authors dropping out, but still treating them well and having a plan B.
  6. Jun 9, 2012 #5
    no problem, not got that type of mentality, but i have been in those types of situations. There is bound to be differences of opinion. I guess this is an opportunity to learn good team skills.
  7. Jun 9, 2012 #6


    User Avatar
    Gold Member

    I suggested the project and actually started it on BAUT. The fellow from Finland jumped in, and the guy from NY joined shortly after. We published in a Springer journal (Astronomy and Astrophysics) with only minimal modifications to satisfy the referees.

    If you want to do this, everybody should choose a text color so that your emails can be parsed easily and melded after negotiations.
Share this great discussion with others via Reddit, Google+, Twitter, or Facebook