MyCommunity: interactive, collaborative

6 August 2013
By Keri Allan
Colloquium on Antennas, Wireless and Electromagnetics

Using MyCommunity to carry out online community peer review.

A successful call for papers event at Loughborough University used the IET’s MyCommunity collaboration tool to undertake an online community peer review.

The 1st IET Colloquium of Antennas, Wireless and Electromagnetics was a free one-day meeting arranged by IET staff and volunteers to bring together research engineers and scientists to share the latest technical knowledge around electromagnetic devices, systems and the propagation of electromagnetic fields.

Held at Loughborough University, UK, on the 29 May, the event was a conglomeration of several ideas from members of the IET Antennas and Propagation Network.

“It was a combination of two ideas,” explains David Houssein, IET community relationship manager. “[IET volunteers] James Flint wanted to run an informal colloquium for early stage researchers and Anil Shukla proposed an event that looked at the link between innovation and research. It made perfect sense to combine the ideas.”

The organisers wanted the community to help shape the content on the day and the best way to do so was for the content to be community reviewed. With this in mind they decided to use MyCommunity to give them pre, on the day and post-event engagement with everyone registered invited to read the presentations beforehand and leave their comments.

A new, quick way to undertake a peer review

Normally the review process is slow and cumbersome and involves large numbers of emails being sent to a number of people that need to be tracked and chased, but by using MyCommunity authors were able to get very quick feedback from many different people.

“There are a lot of ways of dealing with papers and they’re all very onerous, so I thought this looked like a good opportunity to try and use MyCommunity for something a bit different,” says James Flint, an IET Antennas and Propagation Network committee member.

And the results were great. Working this way reduced the organisers’ workloads and also kept overheads low, meaning it was very economical to run.

A true one-team effort

“It was a surprisingly easy event to organise,” notes David. “Normally the review process is complicated and time-consuming, but MyCommunity took a lot of weight off our shoulders. James arranged everything at a local level - such as the venue and bookings and provided the website information and programme. Anil took care of the innovation material and committee chairman Ivor Morrow seeded comments in MyCommunity and did a lot to help market the event.

“From a staff perspective, Lee Pearson looked after the MyCommunity Page, Stacey Mountney did the bulk of the marketing, Sarah Jane Travi dealt with the logistics and Keith Richardson put together a talk on career development. It was my job to organise the teleconferences and ensure that everything was on track. The work was spread widely and nobody felt like they had too much to do - it was a proper team effort!”

Opening and speeding up the review process

All involved felt that using MyCommunity allowed for a rapid review of content, increased community engagement and really allowed the review process to be opened up.

“The good thing in using this process means authors can collate with other authors submissions, so rather than being restricted to a review panel, we have some keen authors who spent a lot of time looking over other papers submitted and fed back to us immediately,” says James.

“I think this grows the quality for the submissions. It means it’s all in the open, and people have a chance to revise what they’d first submitted, possibly more than once.

“[The day itself] was really good, we had a lot of discussion and interactivity. [By using MyCommunity] people were already warmed up to what they were expecting, and I think that really helped. It was a fun event to organise and to be part of!”

Positive community feedback – a success!

Community feedback also echoed the IET staff and committee members’ sentiments, with positive comments coming back from both the authors and delegates.

“I was incredibly impressed with the event. It was technical to a very high level while being informal enough that everyone was approachable. Constructive comments and criticisms could be made in a way not usually possible,” says attendee Brendan Goodbody.

“The fact that it was free and all of the slides were available online made it easy to attend and see if the talks were relevant to my work, and so make it easier to justify my attendance to my manager. It gave [me] the chance to comment and potentially advise master’s and PhD students part way through their studies on ways to progress their work and potentially use it to create high-readiness level technology.

“It was really worth all my effort and time presenting at this seminar,” continues Arnesh Vijay. “I have received valuable and constructive feedback from technical experts both online and present at the colloquium for the further development of my research project. I enjoyed every aspect of this seminar and found it an incredible platform to network, share and discuss research ideas,” he enthuses.

One of the main highlights has been around the speed – of having work reviewed and then also published. Currently all the presentations are being turned into a PDF document that will be the final publication, and this will be available on Inspec very soon.

“It’s a very quick publication route,” says James, “many people who came along said it was a great way of getting something into the public domain very quickly,” he concludes.

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