Pro tips: How to collaborate on research with colleagues around the world

share a folder

If you’re conducting research or co-authoring an academic paper with someone from afar, then you know there are sometimes bumps on the collaboration road. When your work or organization styles are different, things can often get confused, misplaced, or worse — overwritten or deleted. Instead of relying on email attachments and memory sticks, try using Dropbox Pro.

Get organized

When you’re doing a ton of research and working with other people, a solid folder strategy can be your best friend. Start with a shared folder for your whole project, and invite your co-author or research partner to join you in that folder.

Next, create sub-folders that serve distinct purposes. Use one to collect raw data and research, another for storing citations and materials, and a third for isolating your working drafts from everything else. Since Dropbox Pro comes with 1 TB of space, you can create folders for anything you use during your research — presentations, images, videos, and much more.

Access your work anywhere

Academic and research projects have a lot of moving parts. So to be truly productive while away from your normal workspace, you need more than just access to your email. Sure, you can sift through your inbox to find an attachment for a chart or document — but how do you know it’s the latest version?

With Dropbox installed on your laptop, you have access to all your files in one place, so you can open them up and get to work. And as long as you’re connected to the Internet, those files will be up to date, even if your partner or co-author is working on them and saving changes. And the Dropbox mobile app is handy if you’re ever in a pickle, and need to share or review something when you don’t have your computer.

Fine-tune your sharing

Your main project folder should be a shared folder, so your partner or co-author has the same freedom as you to make edits and additions to the folder. If you want to share the folder with someone, but don’t want them to have editing rights — perhaps to get ongoing feedback from your peers — just use view-only permissions for the shared folder.

For people who only need to see one or two items like drafts or final assets, but not your entire project folder, try using a shared link. The link will take people to the most up-to-date version of your work, even if you make changes after sending the link. You can also add passwords or expiration dates to those links for added security.

When you use Dropbox Pro to manage your project, you’re connected to your work no matter where you are — home, the lab, a cafe, or walking across campus. Plus, you can make use of handy features like file recovery, for when your co-author accidentally deletes a draft. Let’s see your university’s share drive try that!