Part 2: Effective collaborations in epidemiology projects

Stay organized

Have one folder where you save everything. Use an intuitive versioning system. If you use dates to keep track of versions, append your documents with the ISO convention of YYYY-MM-DD. Trust me. Lots of details on this post.

Have realistic goals and stick to deadlines

Come up with some firm deadlines. For a 2 month epidemiology manuscript-writing project, here’s a possible schedule:

  • Week 1 – Combine all existing written documents (eg, proposal) into one manuscript
  • Week 2 – Draft tables. Write methods.
  • Week 3 – Baseline characteristics. Describe in results.
  • Week 4 – Describe exposure and outcome. Describe in results.
  • Week 5 – Estimate primary outcome. Describe in results.
  • Week 6 – Secondary analyses. Describe in results.
  • Week 7 – Finish first draft.
  • Week 8 – Finish second draft

Managing your mentor: Send reminder emails more frequently than you probably realize

I block off time to work on your stuff, but clinical priorities or other professional/personal life crises might bump that time. I try to find other time to work on your stuff, but a big crisis might mean that I don’t have a chance to reschedule.

Please, please, please, please email me early and persistently about your projects. This will never annoy me — these emails are very helpful. Quick focused emails are helpful here, especially if you re-forward your prior email threads. Eg, “Hi Tim, wondering if you had a chance to take a look at that draft from last week, reforwarded here. Thanks, [name].”

Working on revisions

Use tracked changes

And remember to turn them on when you send around a draft!

Append your initials to the end of the document that you are editing for someone else

For me, I’ll change a name to “My cool document v1 tbp.docx”.