Software/websites to help manage a scientific project
August 19, 2013 12:10 PM   Subscribe

What software/websites would you recommend to help a team of not more than a dozen individuals at different sites manage a collaborative project?

I help coordinate the activities of an ongoing scientific project involving researchers, data analysts, interviewers and coordinators, spread around three different sites. An important part of our work involves checking and ensuring the integrity of our data, which is gathered in two sites and analyzed in a third. Often, checking a specific issue will spawn more issues to track and resolve. Right now, we're doing all this over email, and you can probably imagine what a mess this can become. We're thinking we should set up a central, secure website where we can post issues, delegate them to individuals, document actions taken, and the like. I was thinking something like bug-tracking or customer service ticketing software might work? Thanks for any suggestions.
posted by docgonzo to Technology (5 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
posted by dhruva at 1:30 PM on August 19, 2013

We use Mantis and Dokkuwiki for work. It kind of sucks but it was easy to set up and noboy has hated it enough to replace it.
posted by singingfish at 1:34 PM on August 19, 2013

Trello has been really useful for me in a similar context.
posted by meijusa at 1:52 PM on August 19, 2013

Where I work (high-performance computing center with multiple scientific applications projects) we use Atlassian: specifically, Confluence for collaboration and Jira for bug tracking. The developers I work with seem pretty satisfied with the software.
posted by tully_monster at 2:59 PM on August 19, 2013

I've been using Redmine for a while and like it pretty well. It doesn't have the best issue tracker or the best wiki, but probably adequate for most projects, and it's got a lot of features that are all integrated together and can be cross linked and stuff. So it's a good one-system solution. It's also extensible via Ruby and there's a number of plugins available for adding stuff.

A smaller integrated system I've used a lot that's quite good is Trac. Not the best issue tracker, but probably adequate for your needs. The wiki is nice and the integration of issue tracker, version control, and wiki is nice. Also, if you happen to know Python, it's super easy to customize or add your own little macros or new features or whatever. And it's been around for a while, so there are lots of plugins available.

Although github is focused on software development, it might be worth spending 15 minutes looking at their website. If you are sharing text-based documents whose versions can be usefully compared on a line-by-line basis, git is a really super tool for managing versions. It's got issue tracking and a wiki for projects, too.

If you want only issue tracking, the most powerful thing out there is Bugzilla, but it's probably overkill for what you need. It's best for power users who have lots of bugs in lots of categories.

I've searched for and filed bug reports using Mantis and Jira, and haven't been very impressed with either of them, but it's possible that's just due to unfamiliarity.

I think you'd probably be happiest with something that incorporates at least issue tracking and a wiki, maybe with version control and other features.

And, of course, YMMV.
posted by at home in my head at 8:25 PM on August 19, 2013

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