PDT is a powerful content management system and registered members can build online data collection instruments such as survey, evaluation form, and assessment tool with user-friendly interface. More important, it is an effective tool that enables many researchers with similar research interests to work collaboratively on a research topic through its powerful collaborative and sharing functions. It allows data collection instrument sharing, flexible instrument connection, literature sharing, and real-time basic report sharing.
Data Collection Instrument Sharing. One big hurdle of conducting research is to have a right data collection tool. PDT’s data collection instrument sharing function can greatly ease this hurdle. After a member created an online data collection instrument (e.g., survey), the creator can share it with other researchers in either an open mode (no permission or request needed) or a restrict or selective way (request-permission or invitation-acceptance). When other researchers are given the permission to share the instrument, each of them can administer this instrument independently to collect his/her own research data. One reward for the instrument creator to share his/her instrument with others is that he/she has the privilege to access his own data and the dataset collected by all the researchers who administer his/her instrument.
Flexible Instrument Connection. PDT allows a member to connect one instrument with one or more other instruments to form own distinctive research package. The instruments included in the package can be either self-created or shared by others. For example, if a researcher get permission to administer a leadership assessment instrument, he/she can connect this leadership assessment tool to a personality assessment tool to explore how personality style is related to leadership. Another researcher may have different idea and connect the leadership tool to a job satisfaction scale. If access to dataset collected by all collaborative researchers is a reward to the person who shares own instrument with others, then the PDT’s flexible instrument connection function should be a great incentive to those who conduct parallel studies with a shared instrument because it allows each individual researcher to make his/her research somewhat different from others’.
Literature Sharing. While those who teach at colleges can easily search various databases for literature review, many others may be in a disadvantageous situation in terms of literature database access. PDT’s literature sharing function encourages researchers sharing a common research instrument to post literature online so that all the researchers of the collaborative team can access the collective library. The literature sharing function can encourage many people to conduct their own research projects, especially those who usually have little access to literature databases.
Real-time Basic Report Sharing. Another very helpful feature of PDT is that all researchers in a collaborative team can view real-time basic statistics of data collected by either a team member or the whole team on any quantitative question included in a shared instrument. Comparing own data with others’ data on basic statistics can help a researcher evaluate the quality of data he/she has collected. For example, if a researcher finds that his data shows very different statistics from data collected by other collaborative team members, he/she will need to think about possible factors (e.g. unique sample characteristics) causing this difference.