Welcome to the Freeman Research Group “Culture Pages”
Guidance in these pages outline practices to help us achieve our goals, promote equity, limit unnecessary struggle and wasted resources, and perform research with public health in mind. We’ll always be improving our approach! If you work here, you can help.
Please limit the use of email for internal questions and discussions. Outlook is terrible at facilitating and archiving these types of communication. Use our Freeman Research Group Slack instead—it makes things much easier in the long run. Slack is the best tool for general group announcements (#group-general), sharing resources and papers (#sharingiscaring), keeping track of group meetings (#group-meetings) and website updates (#group-website).
Direct messages in Slack also offer more functionality than Skype/Outlook. Please try to use Slack direct messages to communicate with group members for things such as scheduling and quick inquiries. You can revert to email for these types of communication if the group member has been “away” from Slack for some time (e.g., network/technical challenges while traveling). By default, you'll get email notifications if you're not active in Slack and someone mentions or sends you a direct message. If you are unfamiliar with Slack, there are helpful tips here. We recommend downloading the Slack desktop app and setting up your notifications to what works with you best.
In general, you should check email and Slack a few times a day and try to respond to urgent requests within an hour or two (M-F), but urgent requests to be few and far between. All urgent request should be via email and they will probably have some warning (e.g., an impending paper or grant deadline). Outlook and Slack phone apps can be helpful in keeping track of communication. That said, you are not expected to email or Slack on weekends, vacations, sick days, or holidays. Note, Slack allows you to set set a Do Not Disturb schedule. With a schedule in place, your notifications will pause every day between the hours you've specified.
Be concise. Be clear if you are asking for something, or if you are simply giving information. Try to minimize the number of back-and-forths required. For example, if you are scheduling via email, instead of asking if someone is free to meet next week, list blocks of time you are available and propose a location. Make it easy to reply quickly.
Be specific. If you are requesting something, be sure to state by when it needs to be reviewed or when you need feedback by. Please be considerate on feasible timelines (see below for details on internal peer reviews).
Be polite. Being concise is part of being polite, but being polite also means using professional titles (for external collaborators) and spell-checking your email.
For internal or external meetings (outside of our regular group meetings or individual meetings with Matt), please set and circulate meeting objectives, agendas, and any pre-read material in advance. This will help us use our time efficiently as well as allow all meeting participants to come prepared for discussions.
After each meeting, the meeting coordinator (or project lead) should circulate a follow-up email documenting key decisions made during the meeting and any action items (and timelines) so participants are aware of their involvement in next steps. If helpful, a template meeting follow-up email can be found here.
publishing AND Authorship
Capture your ideas for a research topic or manuscript! These can be specific to a project that you are working on or something that you think is interesting. We have a simple tracker to help list papers our group is working on and their status (concept, seeking lead, not started, drafting, submitted). Fill out as much that you think will be helpful for you, Matt, and others supporting the paper using our tracking form - Freeman Research Group - Paper Plans and Ideas.
One day a month we try to organize a “group writing retreat.” These are days exclusively dedicated to brainstorming new projects and working on getting papers submitted from ongoing or completed projects. First, we review paper plans as a group, discuss any new concepts and interests we have as well as upcoming proposals and/or grants we are targeting. For our respective projects, we will then revisit action plans and timelines for priority papers. The rest of the day will be spent working on these papers (no emails or other meetings!).
Authorship on a manuscript is based on contribution to at least one of the following criteria: (1) Study design, (2) Substantive contribution to data collection (3) Data analysis, (4) Data interpretation, and (5)Writing. All authors must review, contribute to, and approve the final text of the manuscript. It is the responsibility of the first and senior author to identify the relevant authors and provide the opportunity to for all authors to contribute. Ideally, authors should be given 2 weeks to review a draft before submission.
Authorship order will be determined based on the following criteria: 1 point for general contribution to one of the categories, 2 points for substantial contributions to each of the categories, and 3 points for lead of that category. Find more guidance on our authorship approach here.
Identify a target journal in consultation with Matt and coauthors. Check the journal’s instructions for authors so you know how to structure your manuscript. We try to routinely update impact factors of relevant journals as a resource for you to reference as you plan your manuscripts.
Internal Peer Reviews
Please try to not send email attachments of documents requiring peer review (e.g., draft manuscripts, project reports, student theses, etc.). Editing and reattaching is a pain and version control is a nightmare for projects – especially when there’s a group involved. Instead, put the file in a Box folder, make sure that the file/folder is shared with whoever needs access and put a link in the email. Find guidance on accessing Box version history here.
There are limitations with Box sharing with traveling staff/students and external partners (e.g., field staff, non-Emory collaborators, etc.). In these scenarios, it is recommended to send an email attachment or link to a downloadable file (if the size is large). It will be the first author’s responsibility to compile revisions and feedback as necessary.
We use a group Zotero library to manage, organize, and share resources. Contact Matt if you do not have access. If you are unfamiliar with Zotero, there are helpful tips here. Resources can be added to the shared library with the click of a button using the Zotero Connector Google Chome extension. Once you come across a resource you would like to add, simply click the “Save to Zotero” button and organize the resource into the folder you think is most relevant. Please try to help keep it organized! The desktop application helps organize personal, project, and group libraries as well as manage citations in Word. You can update the group about any resources you add that might be of interest via the #helpfulresources or #papersofinterest Slack channels.
If you do not use Zotero as a reference management software, the library or selected items can easily be imported into which ever software package you prefer (e.g., Endnote, Mendeley, etc.). If you do use Zotero, group resources can easily be copied into your personal or project libraries.
Useful templates and examples
We have a Freeman Research Group Box folder where we try to host useful templates and examples that have been developed from other projects. The idea here is to not re-create the wheel! Take a look in this folder as you start to develop project materials and activities. Please add items/folders you think will be useful to others. Contact Matt if you do not have access.
We have also developed a standard Box folder template to maximize organization between and within projects.
Our group has general equipment such as Android phones, power banks, gps units, MaxQDA software, etc. available to assist in our research activities. Please keep our inventory tracker up-to-date to help identify who has what to assist as we plan research activities for our projects using our tracking form - Freeman Research Group - Equipment and Books.
Updating the website
Project pages: Help keep our project pages up-to-date! Add links/files to any new publications, briefs, reports, case studies, press articles, etc. for your respective projects to the #group-website Slack channel. As a general rule of thumb, we like each project page to have: (1) pictures, (2) a summary of the project, including background, project purpose, study design, etc., (3) study location, (4), target population, (5) principal investigator(s), (6) implementing partner(s), (7) funders, (8) project staff, (9) co-investigator(s) and links to their websites, and (10) field team/enumerators.
Research group updates: Share pictures! Working in the field, attending a conference, win an award, excited about group activities? Take pictures to keep everyone updated on recent group activities. Add the photo and a brief narrative to the #group-website Slack channel.
Recent news/publications: Share any recent news or publications to the #group-website Slack channel and we will add it to the homepage.
Staff/students: New staff and students: please share a photo, position title and degree(s), 1-2 sentence bio, and any LinkedIn, professional website, or CV to the #group-website Slack channel and we will add you to the website.
Software and tools we use
Box: a cloud-based file sharing system that we use to store project and group related documents
Zoom: used for conference calls and virtual meetings
Zotero: a free, easy-to-use tool to help you collect, organize, cite, and share research
Slack: a communication platform we use for group announcements, meetings, discuss projects, and communicate with others
Todoist: simple to-do list application
Open Data Kit: free and open-source software for collecting, managing, and using data
The Noun Project: a website that aggregates and catalogs symbols that are created and uploaded by graphic designers
Map Chart: make your own custom map for policy briefs, research notes, etc.
MindMeister: an online mind mapping tool that lets you capture, develop and share ideas visually
Lucidchart: visual workspace that combines diagramming, data visualization, and collaboration
GIMP: free and open source image editor
SAS onDemand for Academics: online statistical analysis
Emory Software Express: Eligible faculty, staff and students can download Emory University-licensed software products
Emory Course Atlas: a catalog of all courses available at Emory University
Emory Policies: university-wide policies platform
A special thank you to Sarah Cobey, Ben Lopman, and Brian Graaf. Their “Handbook” and “Culture Book” served as an inspiration and reference for our Culture Pages. These are also great references for general guidance in research and academic settings.
Have suggestions? That’s great! We are continuously trying to improve the way that we work as a group. In addition to more formal reviews of our guidelines and policies during semi-annual group “retreats,” group meetings are a great place to discuss or introduce processes, tools, platforms, etc. that you think the group can benefit from.