Team:Macquarie Australia/collaborations


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Collaboration Research

Our work

Our team has a strong belief that the best science is performed by working in groups. In this manner, collaboration between groups is highly attractive to us. Given some circumstances this is difficult for us to perform. We identified that the lateness of wiki updates was a significant problem and did not make collaborating easier. While the wikis are very open, we felt more could be done to improve communication and sharing between teams.

The Macquarie team wanted to be involved in collaborations. Our geographical location makes this difficult. We still wanted to work with and contribute to the community. To meet this goal we wanted to survey the community. We wanted to see if other groups want to work together and what their view on the iGEM experience was.

Our survey consisted of only nine questions and was mainly interested in the individual's perspective of collaboration.

We would like the thank the following teams for being involved in our survey, if you would like to participate then click here. Our initial results will be presented at the Asian Regional Jamboree.

General Comments

We would like to express our gratitude to all teams that participated in the survey. The Europeans were most actively involved and far exceeded the responses from the largest region, Asia. This may have been a result of the impending wiki freeze. The survey received 123 responses with all regions participating. The overall feedback we received was positive and we look forward to trying to implement some of the ideas proposed by the other teams.

Wiki Updating

In our experience we had found significant trouble in learning what other teams were doing. We believed this is due to teams spending a considerable amount of time in the lab, as well as the potential that they are working on the site offline and then pasting all the data as the freeze approaches.

The number of surveys filled out by teams from the Asia region was lower than expected considering it is the largest region. The surveys also contained contradictory information. Some members from the same team stated that the wiki was updated each week, whilst another stated it was in the week before the wikifreeze. The distribution show that the Asian region has significant delays in the posting of content compared to other regions, in particular East America and Europe. If iGEM were to place a greater emphasis on collaborations than the delay in wiki updates may hamper the Asian region.

The Asian region shows a trend towards updating at the last minute. Team Macquarie's data was removed. The number of responses from Asian teams was very small and the large contribution by a single team shifted the distribution to suggest a different pattern.

Wiki and Open Source

The view on wikis was unanimous, they are functioning as expected and needed. The question was used to show that the spirit of iGEM revolves around communication and sharing of ideas. The responses per region did not change dramatically.

A collaboration Award

The idea for the survey was born from this question. Alongside Human Practice, helping another lab group (from our perspective this is collaboration) was a gold medal requirement. We then found it surprising that best collaboration is not eligible for a Special Award and yet best Human Practice is. Both are equally hard the judge. The Macquarie Team felt strongly that collaboration should be a bigger part of iGEM. Most worthwhile scientific endeavours benefit greatly from collaboration and we are excited for what future groups could produce collaborations were explored more.

The overwhelming majority of the community (83%, 99 responses) wanted to see an award for best collaboration. We, along with many other groups, felt that it would be hard to judge and would require the criteria to be carefully spelled out. This result was particularly exciting for the team as we found many responses that wanted to actively seek collaborations but found that seeking them were often very difficult. The lack of content on some teams wikis makes it difficult to determine what they are doing. Communication is also hard to establish and so teams often do not collaborate.

The potential impact of the award

The effect of a potential award on the desire to collaborate with other teams was mixed. Very few believed it would not affect their desire the collaborate. Many felt that they would be interested in collaborating with other teams knowing that a Special Prize was available. The judging criteria behind the award was a significant problem amongst the people surveyed. It is a serious concern and it is something that would require significant thought and planning before it is introduced.

Potential Ideas

Respondents provided many unique ideas to try to promote collaborations. A few select ideas can be seen below,

When entering our project summary (15th July 2012) we could enter a few key words. For example we would have entered: Gibson Assembly, Heme Oxygenase, Gene regualtion and light. Teams could search by these keywords to find a collaborator.
Macquarie University
Requiring an earlier deadline for track selections so that groups may see other groups with similar proposals more easily.
University of Virginia
If we have the possibility to find team with keyword, it would be easier to take contact at the beginning of the project. for example, use the name of the microorganisms or the topic...
open the wiki earlier. Since the iGEM wiki was opened so late, we had done a different wiki and it takes a lot of time to transfer from one site to the other. It should open when team registration begins! That way we can start collaborations that early!

We would like to thank the following teams for participating in our survey, more than this may have completed the survey. However the wikifreeze has prohibited further additions to the list.
  • Alberta
  • Amsterdam
  • Arizona State
  • Bielefeld
  • Bordeaux
  • British Columbia
  • BYUprovo
  • Caltech
  • Chalmers-Gothenburg
  • Ciencias_UNAM
  • Colombia
  • Costa Rica_TEC-UNA
  • Edinburgh
  • Exeter
  • Frankfurt
  • Fudan_Lux
  • Georgia State
  • Groningen
  • HKUST_Hong Kong
  • HokkaidoU_Japan
  • INSA-Lyon
  • IvyTechSouthBendIN
  • JHU Igem wetware
  • Johns Hopkins Software
  • JUIT India
  • Missouri Miners
  • Nanjing
  • Nevada
  • Northwestern
  • NYMU-Taipei
  • OUC-China
  • Panamá_INDICASAT
  • Paris Bettencourt
  • Paris Saclay
  • Peking University
  • Penn State
  • Queen's Canada
  • Stanford-Brown
  • SUSTC-Shenzhen-B
  • Tec-Monterrey
  • Trento
  • UBC iGEM 2012
  • UC_Chile
  • UIUC-Illinois
  • ULB-Brussels
  • Utah state
  • Virginia
  • Wageningen_UR
  • Warsaw
  • Washington
  • Waterloo
  • Wellesley HCI
  • ZJU-China

Our contributions

The Macquarie Team helped several other teams by completing their surveys. The teams we aided are listed below,

  • TU München
  • Trieste 2012
  • University of British Columbia