Integration of Slack, a cloud-based team collaboration application, into research coordination

Miriam Gofine, Sunday Clark


Background: Practitioners of epidemiology require efficient real-time communication and shared access to numerous documents in order to effectively manage a study. Much of this communication involves study logistics and does not require use of Protected Health Information. Slack is a team collaboration app; it archives all direct messages and group conversations, hosts documents internally, and integrates with the Google Docs application. Slack has both desktop and mobile applications, allowing users to communicate in real-time without the need to find email addresses or phone numbers or create contact lists. 

Method: We piloted the integration of Slack into our research team of one faculty member, one research coordinator, and approximately 20 research assistants. Statistics describing the app’s usage were calculated twelve months after its implementation. 

Results: Results indicating heavy usage by both research professionals and assistants are presented. our Slack group included a cumulative 51 users. Between October 2015 and November 2016, approximately 10,600 messages were sent through Slack; 53% were sent by RA’s and 47% were sent by us. Of the 106 files stored on Slack, 82% were uploaded by research staff. In a January 2016 survey, 100% of RA’s agreed or strongly agreed that Slack improved communication within the team. 

Conclusion: We demonstrate a model for integration of communication technology into academic activities by research teams. Slack is easily integrated into the workflow at an urban, academic medical center and is adopted by users as a highly effective tool for meeting research teams’ communication and document management needs. 


social media; organization and administration; epidemiology

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