This document is a work in progress to describe the advantages of using a wiki as an information repository and collaborative space for institute research labs. The goal of the document should be to provide both pros and cons to better enable new labs to decide whether they would like to participate.
What good are wikis in general?
Wikis make it easy for anyone in a group to contribute without an administrative bottleneck. There is no "webmaster" who approves every contribution to the site.
Ease of contribution
Hard to break
Wikis are nearly impossible to break - changes are tracked and can be very easily reverted.
Why are wikis useful for research labs?
Much "lore" and information is lost when lab memebers leave (problem given high turnover rate of academic labs), the wiki provides a low-barrier of entry method for lab members to contribute that information to a database which will persist after they leave the lab.
The ease of wiki linking enables much more rich documents and information than is availble in static documents. For instance can link out to informative pages about particular words in the wiki, enabling someone reading the protocol who doesn't understand a concept to quickly locate a reliable, accurate definition.
By providing a common space for people to post information about thier work, graduate students are more likely to be aware of the work going on in other labs locally. It seems like this will improve the likelihood of collaboration.
Shared Materials Information
Chemicals, antibiotics, etc can have their own wiki pages listing general information, safety, etc. Since these are things which are general information rather than lab-specific stuff (like protocols) they could be shared accross labs. For instance, Ampicillin. If a protocol called for the use of Amp, it could include a link to this, so if you forget the mode of action of amp you just click rather than have to go dig it up in Molecular Cloning.
A list of equipment is a useful shared resource to make labs aware of the available equipment in the building. Also, equipment pages serve as a central repository for control experiments and other information about the device, see Victor3 Plate Reader.
How do I join?
The current usage of OpenWetWare provides some compelling examples of why joining the site may be useful to your lab. ...fill in
- other wikis