CW21 - Discussion session

The discussion session allows groups of people to discuss a topic that interests them in a way that furthers our knowledge of that topic. This session is a fundamental part of the Collaborations Workshop: it helps people learn about new ideas and work together on solving shared problems.

The output of the discussion session is a speed blog post from each group to help disseminate the insights to the wider community. You can view the speed blogs from last year's Collaborations Workshop 2020 discussion session here.

Schedule and topics 

The CW21 discussion session will take place on Tuesday, 30 March 2021 from 13:45 - 15:15 BST. The live list of topics will be made available to registrants of the workshop, allowing them to sign up for topics and suggest new topics.

How does it work?

Each topic is assigned a Proposer whose role is to make sure that everyone's voice is heard, and keep everyone on topic.

During the morning of the first day of the workshop, participants can make the following changes:

  • Drop a topic: If someone is down against a topic as the proposer but they would prefer to be participating in another topic, they can remove their name as topic proposer.
  • Lead a topic: If there is a topic that a participant wants to see discussed, but it doesn’t have an owner attached to it, they can volunteer to lead it by adding their name to the topic.
  • Suggest a new topic: If the topic a participant wants to discuss isn’t listed, they can add it to the list with themselves as the topic owner.

During lunch, all workshop participants should sign up to the topic they'd like to participate in (a link will be provided), there will only be one discussion topic session. Based on peoples' preferences, we'll schedule the discussion sessions and assign them breakout rooms.

The discussion session lasts for 90 minutes. That's not enough time to discuss the subject in depth, but we find it's about the right amount of time to determine the main points and write them up as speed blog.

What to do

In the first five minutes, you should choose a Reporter. The Reporter clicks the link for the collaborative note taking and blog template for their group from the Discussion Topics spreadsheet and uses that to note down the pertinent points from the discussion that can then be used as the basis for constructing the speed blog about the session.

A good way to start is to ask what participants in the group want from the discussion. Are people looking to solve a problem, wanting to promote a solution, or do they simply want to know more about the topic? If you can get a handle on what people want from the discussion, it's much easier to keep everyone on topic.

Focus on what can be changed! It's easy with some topics to focus on a discussion of the problems and overlook the process of finding a solution.

Also it's important to give the first 50 minutes of time to the discussion and not worry about writing the blog post, as it can be hard to explore a topic and write coherent prose as the same time. Once the 50 minutes is up you should move on to writing the blog post for which you will have approximately 40 minutes, ideally it's better to get it written during this time as we have found if you leave it for later then you tend to never get back to it. Even a first decent draft is a good start, and we will ask you if you want to work on it further before we publish them after Collaborations Workshop 2021.

You might want to move the notes to the bottom of your document and blog post to the top in the last few minutes of the discussion session. In any case, once you are done and if you want others to see it then you can always let people know via the CW21 Slack workspace. Otherwise the organisers will be aware of where the documents are. You will be able to carry on working on the blog after the session and for about a week after the workshop but please do try and have a (near) complete blog by the end of the session otherwise the momentum to write anything might be lost.

Reporting back  

There is no formal reporting back session at Collaborations Workshop 2021, the blog posts forms the heart of reporting back information from the discussions in a way that is of wider benefit to the research software community. 

The final product

In the weeks after Collaborations Workshop 2021, we will publish the speed blog posts - so the teams will still have some time to tweak them. We will confirm with the team members before we publish. We won't be publishing the notes so please feel free in noting things down as you see fit.


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