Git for science: SciGit!

Screen Shot 2013-09-20 at 4.53.16 PMMost scientists will tell you that collaboration is key research. Virtually all research projects consist of associations of different persons with complementary skills (+ that one parasitic PI with a high-up position ūüôā ). Collaborating with your labmates is one thing, but larger scale or long distance collaborations require significant attention to track, organize, and synchronize the work. Collaboration tools for researchers can help greatly and online tools to organize experiments or share data efficiently are becoming more popular.

But when comes the times to write a publication, collaborations typically get very messy. Files names become overly complicated as the version number increases; who hasn’t had a TC_v17.1_Final2 at the end of their word documents? Files are exchanged by email, do not get send because of the size, get forgotten in the inbox or spam, and versions get swapped. Luckily SciGit, a version control tool for publication writing has recently went live! Inspired by the hugely success GitHub, the tool advertises three essential functionalities:

  1. Collaborate without mess.
  2. Supports your editor.
  3. Safe and secure.

In sum, with SciGit you can easily track document versions and easily visualize edits while continuing to use your usual off-line text editor such as Microsoft Word. The modifications to the documents can be tracked either online or through the free desktop client (only available for windows at the moment). Deletions are simply highlighted in red and additions in green. The documents are automatically uploaded to the cloud in a safe and secured location with tight control over who can view the documents.

The tools is still in beta and seems to have¬†space to evolve. But keep and open mind and give it a try! Comments are welcome ūüôā

Lab techniques, protocols, tips and tricks on camera with Benchfly

2013-07-26-benchflyA large number of landmark scientific studies are hard to reproduce¬†by independent labs. The reasons are numerous, but ¬†incomplete and imprecise protocols are often to blame. Indeed the protocols published in most journals miss essential details such as the “little tricks” that make experiments work. Over the past few years, various initiatives have been launched to address the problem, and video protocols seem to stand out as one of the solutions. ¬†If well produced, video protocols can be captivating and help to quickly grasp protocols or techniques in detail.

Benchfly is a central location to view and share videos of laboratory protocols, tips, tricks and techniques. It hosts short videos of virtually anything that can be useful to experimental scientist in the field of biology, biochemistry and chemistry.  Anyone with a camera-equipped smartphone is invited to create videos of their own experiments to share with the world. Benchfly made it easy for anyone to add, edit and share videos through their platform. And since making scientific expertise free and accessible to all is part of Benchfly’s core values, the videos are open access with no need to sign-up to view. Recently Benchfly also went live with a mobile app for both androids and iPhones so that filming and watching the videos is easier while in lab.

Since videos have become an essential tool for marketing and public relations purposes, Benchfly can also partner with companies, to produce, host and disseminate science-based videos. On top of this, Benchfly also hosts a more social component, with a great blog with tips and stories about the struggles and joys of being a researcher. Benchfly has been around for a little while now, created in 2009 by Alan Marnett in Cambridge MA USA.