The focus of the Living Observatory Projects platform, as the title suggests, is the project. A project represents work, whether it is planned, in progress, or completed. Projects:

  • have a main page that should provide a concise but comprehensive overview of the project. This is a free-form editable page that can contain text, headings, images, and links. The main page can be edited at any time, but generally should be considered static.
  • have a log of updates, which are dated entries that provide readers with information on new developments in the project. Summaries of updates from all projects will appear in the feed on the home page, so that visitors can stay up to date on everything that is going on.
  • can have uploaded files. Files appear in their own subpage, and can include documents such as data sets in spreadsheet form, research protocols, et cetera[1]. Files can be flagged as private, which makes them only available to project owners and LO staff.
  • list publications. Publications are shown on the main project page in standard bibliographical format. If copyright permits, a PDF of the paper may be uploaded. Publication entries can also link to online versions of the paper on the publisher’s website.
  • are owned by a list of people (the contributors). Ownership confers the ability to edit and post on the project’s pages[2].
  • can list associated institutions (also known as partners). These are organizations (such as universities or non-profits). Partner institutions are listed and linked on the project’s main page. No permissions are conferred to listed institutions; this list is informational only.

What’s a project?

Some researchers are conducting an extensive body of work, and it can be difficult to decide where to delineate and create separate project entries. While every situation is unique and there are no hard and fast rules, this section provides some guidelines.

  • It is better to have a few projects with frequent activity and lots of content than a ton of small projects that have little more than an abstract and are never updated.
  • If projects would have the same list of contributors and same datasets, they should probably be a single project entry. It is okay for one project to investigate multiple research questions.
  • Projects are not publications. Do not create a new project for every paper you publish. Project entries can list multiple publications.
  • In general, every research group/principal investigator (e.g. university professor) should have one top-level project.
  • Significant bodies of work by graduate students that will be ongoing for several years and culminate in a thesis or dissertation should generally have their own project entry distinct from their PI’s project entry.
  • PIs may have multiple subprojects if the work is substantially different.
  • Restoration projects should have their own entries.
  • Large grants that result in collaboration between several research groups should generally have their own entry, which will mainly link to individual researchers’ subprojects.
  • A body of work that has a clearly defined scope (start and end dates, deliverables, etc). is well-suited to being a distinct project entry.
  • It is okay for a project to be a record of faits accomplis, such as restoration projects that have already been completed. Such a project should have a complete main page, but won’t necessarily post updates.

Most importantly, consider the perspective of a visitor to the website and how to present work to them most clearly.

Project Creation

Projects can only be created by LO staff. E-mail us with the following information:

  1. The project title. You can edit this later, but we will also use it to choose the proejct’s URL (which cannot be edited). If you have a specific request for the URL (which takes the form of<your-project>), you can include this in your request.
  2. A 1-2 sentence “abstract” or “flavor text”. This is not the full abstract to your paper or thesis, but instead a brief blurb that will appear in the project index alongside the title. If it is longer than a couple of lines it will be truncated automatically. You will be able to freely edit this yourself once the project is created.
  3. An initial list of people (including yourself) who should be listed as project owners, who will be able to edit the project once it is created. You will be able to add additional contributors yourself, provided that they already have accounts on the site. For contributors who do not yet have an account, provide us with their name, e-mail address, and affiliation and we will invite them to join.
  4. If you already have a project or are requesting multiple projects, please describe how this project relates to your other project(s) and the justification for making it a separate entry.

  1. While any type of file can be uploaded, it is best not to use this feature for images (which should be inserted into the body of the main page or an update) or videos (which are better to upload to a video hosting platform like Vimeo or YouTube and linked).

  2. Projects can also list additional contributors without giving them edit permissions.