- Ease of use and low learning curve
- Speed of sharing and diversity of shared files
- Privacy and protection from sabotage
- Organizational flow
- Legally sharing papers/manuscripts
In one of the labs (about a dozen people) I work with, we use a MediaWiki install given to use by the university that requires log-in to view everything but the front page or to edit. Although the learning curve is not steep (most people already know how to use Wikipedia) it has been hard to convince the undergraduate lab members to use the wiki. It mostly serves as a place for:
With a former supervisor, we used to have a private MediaWiki install that was used by a our small group (3 or 4 people). Since we worked on theory/math it contained:
It was relatively well maintained by the prof, and a pretty good guide for understanding some of the work behind his earlier papers.
I also keep a personal private TiddlyWiki, there I keep:
For me, the most useful was the private Wiki, the second most useful was the small group wiki because of the good maintenance by my prof, and least useful is the large lab wiki.
A wiki is a platform, which you can use in whatever way you see fit. Personally, I've used them academically for the following purposes:
I was running cognitive psychology experiments on subjects. I would make a top-level page that contained links to a separate page for all of my research projects. On each research project page, I had links to separate pages for each of the following:
Each subject page contained notes on each session, results, general info ("subject performed poorly today, possibly due to stress from midterms"), as well as the results of their data analysis.
This wiki was basically a place for me to store papers. Many wikis allow embedding of pdfs, and I would store pages as follows. The top-level page segmented topics. Each topic page contained links to pages about individual papers, as well as links to ongoing summaries of my reading. This was where I would write down my thoughts and conclusions after reading papers, and made it easier for me to combine my thoughts on multiple papers... after reading a new article, I would review what I had written there and try to somehow incorporate the new article in my ideas (if relevant, more often than not it wasn't).
These are just two ideas, and they were just used by me, not my whole lab. I'm sure you can think of more (managing lab meetings, managing collaborations, managing lab-wide protocols, etc).