The “post-publication feedback” game
After a paper is published, researchers usually proceed to the next project, and do not speak too much about what has been done. This is unfortunate, because much can be learned by discussing what has gone well or wrong in the paper, and what can be used to make the next publications better. The “post-publication feedback” game is a way of getting feedback from the authors of a paper, without taking them too much time and without boring them.
Participants: This game should be done after one or two months after a paper is published. All the authors of the paper should participate, although other members of the lab can come as well.
Game: In the game, the group leader or the facilitator splits a blackboard into a few sections. You should choose only three or for section titles from the following list (explanation of section titles is given within parenthesis):
- Message of the paper (Can you resume the most important message of this paper, in a sentence? Sometimes, authors of the same paper may disagree on this, and it is interesting to know if it is the case)
- What would you change? (What would you change if you had to start this work from the beginning?)
- What analysis will you keep? (Which analysis/method/type of visualization did you find so useful that you will use it in other projects?)
- What went well?
- What went wrong?
- What’s next? (What is the next thing to do to continue this work?)
After the blackboard has been splitted into section, the facilitator should give three post-its to each person. After giving 5 minutes to everybody to write, each person is asked in turn to post a post-it to the blackboard, in any section. Each person will be given 2 or 3 minutes to explain what he wrote, and then the turn will pass to another person.
After finishing the game, it would be a good habit to copy all the contents of the blackboard and put them into an archive.
Notes: This game must be very quick, and should not last more than half an hour. There are three reasons to keep this short. First, we want to avoid to create discussions between members of the group (your results are all wrong! I could not finish my part because you didn’t give me the materials! etc..). If someone talks for more than 5 minutes, the group leader or the faciliator should interrupt him and proceed to the next person. Second, if people are aware that there it will be no discussion on what they will say, and that they won’t be forced to explain much of what they wrote, they are more likely to give negative comments, which is what we want to get. The third advantage of making this game quick is that people won’t get bored after the meeting, so it will be easier to propose them to do the same after future publications. In theory, members of a group should get the habit of making one such meeting after each publication, and not be depressed by it.