Collaboration Tools

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Collaboration among a research team is a critical part of nearly all data collection and impact evaluation activities . With the general availability of low-cost cloud collaboration tools, it is easier and more important than ever to use tools that effectively share access to data and content; protect the privacy, integrity, and history of that content; and impose as low of a learning cost on other collaborators as possible. This page outlines collaboration tools for analysis and paper writing.

Read First

  • GitHub facilitates collaborative coding and preserves every version history of code and outputs
  • Cloud Sync tools like Dropbox are useful for sharing code, data, and outputs. While they have limitations (i.e. multiple collaborators often can’t simultaneously work on the same file), they come with a low learning curve and are easy to implement.
  • Overleaf is a web-based LaTeX collaboration tool that allows multiple authors to simultaneously edit documents.

Analysis

GitHub

GitHub allows for multiple data analysts to work on the same project simultaneously by keeping a local copy of all analysis code and merging final versions together in a centralized repository. GitHub preserves every version history of code and outputs. This makes it easy to recover old code snippets after deleting them from the main production branch and to avail these code snippets to others who may want to review analyses that did not appear in the final publication.

Cloud Sync Tools

Cloud Sync tools, such as Dropbox, are commonly used to share code, data, and outputs with collaborators. Unlike GitHub, sync tools have limited version histories and typically do not allow multiple collaborators to work simultaneously on the same file without version conflicts arising. However, they bear more similarity to traditional filesystem structures, meaning that the learning curve is nearly zero for working on files in sync tools.

Paper Writing

Overleaf

Overleaf is a web-based LaTeX collaboration tool that allows multiple authors to simultaneously edit documents. It maintains a folder structure containing a main document, a bibliography document, and images and other resources. It supports limited integrations with Git and Dropbox, and is currently under active redevelopment following a merger with ShareLaTex, a similar service.

While Overleaf is based on a LaTeX structure, it now offers a "Google-Docs-like" editor and limited comments and version histories, making it easier to collaborate with coauthors who are more comfortable with WYSIWYG editors like Word.

Additional Resources