Scientific work from the home office with the "Scientific Workflow Guide"

16.04.2020, by Anke Pfeiffer and Prof. Dr.-Ing. Dieter Uckelmann

This summer semester is going differently than planned, but no less productive than in previous semesters. In the seminar Applied Logistics Systems in the Master's programme Green Logistics students are guided through the semester with a mix of synchronous and asynchronous digital tools. The goal of working on a current logistics topic in small groups and bringing it qualitatively up to the level of a scientific publication, however remains in focus independent of the digital tools.

For the first time the SWOFI online tool of the RWTH Aachen University will be used in this seminar. This somewhat bizarre acronym refers to the "Scientific Workflow Guide". The digital SWOFI tool was developed as part of a PhD and aims to accompany students from the idea through literature research, questioning and structuring of content to the finished journal article.

The concept of the Paper Sprint which Professor Dr.-Ing. Dieter Uckelmann has already successfully implemented in the past semesters in the Master Seminar can now be accompanied precisely with the help of the SWOFI tool. In the Paper Sprint students go through clearly structured research writing and review phases during the semester which can be digitally reproduced with the help of the SWOFI tool. SWOFI has a linear structure and provides students step-by-step with supplementary learning resources, tasks, submissions and peer reviews from abstract to finished paper.

In the current crisis the weekly online presentations are carried out by means of GoToMeeting. Students can present and discuss their topics and clarify their questions in small groups later in the semester. Parallel to their work phase, they can find information, links and practical tips on the SWOFI platform for the individual processing steps. A timer function automatically reminds students of the next submission deadline. In addition, a criteria-based peer review is carried out towards the end of the seminar using the tool.

This means that the previous classroom lecture can be held almost entirely using digital tools from the home office. It would be desirable that the final presentation of the results can take place as a face-to-face event, as facial expressions and gestures make an important contribution to successful presentations. Nevertheless, the opportunity to acquire digital presentation skills is definitely appreciated by the students. However the most important criterion for the quality and evaluation of the scientific contributions is the ability to publish. For students the bar is high because in the summer semester of 2018 a total of six papers and in 2019 five articles were successfully published. For the future it is planned to adopt the teaching format as a writing laboratory in the "DigiLab4U" project, so that other universities could also access it. Anke Pfeiffer, who is working as a research assistant in the project, is therefore transferring the laboratory-based didactic concept of DigiLab4U to SWOFI on the one hand and checking the integrability of SWOFI in DigiLab4U on the other.