Use of Wiki Tools in Collaborative Research and Learning

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Wikipedia is widely used by the community as a knowledge source where informed individuals develop pages cooperatively. Variants of the underlying software are being used to facilitate student learning in academia and for a number of knowledge sharing purposes in industry. There are relatively few articles describing the use of wikis as a tool supporting research activities. This paper presents four case studies of joint industry-academia initiatives using a wiki to capture knowledge that facilitates research and capturing learning from research. While embracing the ‘wiki way’ of collaborative writing and publishing may be an initial concern, this fades away as experience is gained. It is observed that the core wiki tools work best when (a) the wiki tool is pre-structured to serve a specific purpose, and (b) when linked to other tools that facilitate task organisation, informal communication and the management of large data sets. While the use of a wiki tool may be mandated in a research environment, personal preferences in the way it is used in conjunction with traditional knowledge sharing mechanisms such as lab books, e-mail and formal report writing should be supported.