What's wrong with Tech Report Part A

I finished reading Tech Report Part A. I have general comments, and would like everyone’s opinion. I list below four issues, from least to most severe.

  • Some stuff is missing completely from the formatted document, though it was provided in the GDocs. For example: the description of unforeseen Risk R7 and the scientific papers (they are here); the communication and dissemination activities (in this folder). I guess this is no big deal, just some editing.
  • Some stuff is a bit inconsistent. For example, in the "Progress beyond the state of the art" there are subsections on the state of the art in Network science for online deliberation and community management, Design for participation and collective intelligence etc. Here, different people followed different strategies.  I referred to the proposal ("no breakthrough advances since we started the project"); others copy-pasted the proposal. 
  • The reporting structure is unclear, at least to me. Section 1.2 is supposed to give the reader an overall view of the project as it advances towards completion. I see substantial overlap with section 1.1 (Objectives) of Tech Report Part B. There, we had to "list the specific objectives for the project as described in section 1.1 of the DoA and described the work carried out during the reporting period towards the achievement of each listed objective. Provide clear and measurable details". How is this different? I admit I am confused. At the moment, there is nothing there. Upon re-reading, I thought a possibility would be to put here most of the stuff I wrote under Sections 1.3.2 and 1.3.4. Those are structured as a list "What we set up to do" and "What we have done"; goals on the first column, and items in the second columns start with "Done", "Partially done" or "Not done yet", and proceed to explain. This would mean writing from scratch sections 1.3.2 and 1.3.4 concentrating on the "noblest" parts in opencare: what, in opencare, is not just delivering a project, but making an impact on science and society. It seems consistent with the help text for section 1.3: "Progress beyond the state of the art and expected potential impact (including the socio-economic impact and the wider societal implications of the project so far)."
  • "Big picture" considerations are subjective by definition (the big picture is in the eye of the beholder). By implication, I do not believe we can write them collectively. This sort of writing requires an author. What we can do is this: each of us can take responsibility for writing a well-defined piece in a structure. The only structure which is compatible with a decentralized project is that suggested by Guy in this comment. Basically, take what you find most precious in opencare and argue for it. 

So, what should I do? Copy 1.3.2 and 1.3.4 into 1.2 and write new impact stuff into 1.3.2 and 1.3.4?

Integrating stuff into EMDesk

Regarding the point on “Unforeseen risks”, I am on it. I first thought the table would be automatically generated, so I had omitted it before lookinginto that particular section.

The “Progress beyond the state of the art” seciton has to be re-written. For now, this section has not been addressed as academic would do it. It indeed sounds quite ackward to blantly write no progress since project started.

“The reporting structure is not clear.” – tell me about it. Yes section 1.2 should give “an overall view of the project as it advances towards completion”. And yes, it does overlap sections of report part B – but I don’t see this as a problem – although we certainly need to give it a different writing style (not copy paste the exact text)…

  • I believe Section 1.2 should emphasize the collective aspect of the work done, while section 1.3 may focus on each particular WP when explaining how results go beyond the state-of-the-art.
  • Yes, writing section 1.2 around stories emphasizing typical achievements is a good idea.

Ok, doing this now

Thanks @melancon .


  • Part 1.2 will be about how OpenCare is moving towards completion. We emphasize the progress of our work on the project itself.
  • Part 1.3 will be about impact. We emphasize the consequences of our findings on the world beyond the project: science, social innovation, policy. 

I am now editing Part A (on a .docx file) in the following way: moving to section 1.2 my table “what we set out to do”: “what we did”. There is a bit of editing to do, because section 1.3.6 (the one curated by @Lakomaa ) does not follow that format. I will not do it, simply move Erik’s text below my own (and Marco’s, who did follow the table’s scheme).

I will rearrange section 1.3 as follows. Section 1.3.1, 1.3.3 and 1.3.5 (state of the art) will be regrouped under just one header. This will encode changes in the state of the art as pertain to the project, across the disciplines we follow. A completely new section (“Impact”) will contain my own take on where I see the most important impact of opencare. Others are welcome to add their own.

One note about style. I recommend it dry. Short sentences. As few clauses and adverbs as possible. Active form rather than passive form. Bullet points and tables are good – we used them a lot in the proposal, with good results. Let’s make it easy to read.

One note about state of the art. Just like the proposal, Section 1.3 is divided into two sub-sections: “state of the art” and “own contribution”.

State of the art is the state of the art outside the project. We described it in the proposal. Any deviation is attributable to major breakthroughs made outside the project (“we now have experimental evidence for Higg’s boson”). I am not aware of anything major in our branch of collective intelligence/network science since the project started. Nothing, anyway, that justifies a deviation from our workprogramme (for example, the release of a full-fledged, theoretically grounded open source ethnographic software making use of graph theory). Therefore, I do not feel awkward at all to write “no major breakthrough here”. That said, you are the better network science scholar, so your perception of the field trumps mine. Feel free to add or rewrite.

Own contribution is where we are supposed to deliver. Here, obviously, it would be unacceptable to write we have done nothing. Fortunately, we have done quite a lot of work, so no need to beat about the bush.

Tables yes – after all

Thinking about it, I concluded tables are not that bad. Synthetic, to the point, both in style and visually. Time efficient for reviewers – and for us.

They probaly just need an introductory paragraph (explaining what it is the table tells).

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About sections 1.3.2 and 1.3.4

“1.2 Work performed from the beginning of the project to the end of the period …”

“1.3 Progress beyond the state of the art and expected potential impact …”

When looking at such a question from an academic perspective, section 1.3 is clear: you tell about the results you goot, and undelrine how they improved over previous results of a same nature or looking at a similar issue. (Clearly, one year is quite short in time to hope to have made significant progress over the state-of-the-art. Such a section makes more sense in the final report (and usually over a three year period. But you can’t escape form writing section 1.2 by just saying it …).

@Alberto : your text in the actual section 1.3.4 does fit a "progress over state-of-the-art section although you may want to emphasize it. That your results and work done in a sense is a small revolution in ethnography. Content in the actual section 1.3.2 does indeed belong more to section 1.2, although I am not sure we want to use a bullet-list style ub section 1.2 and format everything as a collection of items gathered in a 2-column table.

Unforeseen risks

I just seem unable to locate where on EMDesk I can enter these items. Will look into it with Luce on Monday.