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What techniques have you found to improve collaboration with a remote colleague, in particular to make it feel more like collaboration in person?

The majority of my collaborations are with colleagues outside of my state. The simplest model I've used is that we each write up certain proofs, and then eventually one of us organizes the various pieces into a draft of a paper, which gets passed back and forth via email until we agree that we're ready to submit. However, this typically feels quite different from collaborating in person. One technique that I've used with surprising success is to skype with my colleague. He was actually able to write on the chalkboard so that I could read it. What techniques have worked best for you?

1 Answer 1

I am in a mixed group of wet lab and dry lab (bioinformatics) people, and preferences are very different (Word vs. LaTeX), but the last three papers we have written in Google Docs. It has quite some benefits.

  • Use of Google Docs is free, you just need an G+ account
  • Every one has immediate access to it
  • You can write the manuscript collaboratively in realtime. You see the cursor positions of the other blinking.
  • Since June 2014 Google Docs has "track changes".
  • You can also easily exchange files (even huge files with Google Drive)
  • No need to send multiple MS Word files around the globe and merge them afterwards
  • Inserting references and formatting the bibliography works perfectly with Paperpile. Also collaborators that do not have Paperpile installed see all the references and citations properly formatted.
  • Google Docs has excellent MS Word and PDF export.

As of writing the current free storage in Google Drive is 15 GB for regular users.