It is long believed that the flow of development of technology goes like this:

Source: uk-cpi.com

The academia research and invent, the industry implements and improves.

It would seem logical then, that both these groups of people use the same kind of tools for communication of ideas, right?

The reality is far from this.

Where industry heavily uses a system of version control, the academia still depends majorly on a manual system involving conferencing or mail or similar kinds of methods for collaboration. This is a serious problem.

General trends observed by companies when dealing with new recruits is that most of them have to be trained in using the version control systems which indicates that not many universities teach these methods. According to stack exchange the possible reasons of this are:

1. Version control isn’t that challenging to learn (assuming you know how to use the command line). It’s something you can trivially understand by following a few tutorials online

2. It can be hard to find time to fit in the command line and git. You’ll probably need to spend at least 30 minutes talking about both things, and if you have a lot of material you need to cover, it can be hard to squeeze that in without compromising on something else.

3. If your university didn’t find time to squeeze in version control, you’ll be told to learn it on at least day 1 of your first internship or job (and they’ll probably do a better job of teaching it!)

Moreover, if a teacher isn’t well versed in a particular skill, majority of his students will be dumber for it.

In almost every profession- whether its law or journalism, finance or medicine or academia or running a small business-people rely on confidential communication to do their jobs…. When someone breaches that trust, we are all worse off for it. — Hillary Clinton

It is also observed that professors even doubt the confidentiality of this mode of communication and find it hard to trace the authorship and resolve conflicting changes. They had found comfort in their traditional ways.

However, this kind of thinking is flawed.

Studies show that “git (a version control system), can facilitate greater reproducibility and increased transparency in science”. The applications and use cases involve software development and dissemination, paper and grant writing, paper and grant feedback, contributions to Wiki-like community documentation sites, and sharing of data analysis “notebooks” and executable papers.

It is often said, that if you don’t take a decision in time, time takes a decision for you.

2020.

Times of a massive global pandemic.

Swift and clearly documented communication is the need of the hour in the world of science. New discoveries cannot wait to be published to be used by the others. Scientists are actively using platforms to share their data with the world, students are using platforms to collaborate and work on their projects, and the world has sunk into a new “normal”.

It is now more essential than ever to master this skill of using a version control system.

What is this version control system?

Version control is a system that records changes to a file or set of files over time so that you can recall specific versions later. To know more about what is Git and version control click here.

How do I learn to use it?

There are many free widely used platforms like GitHub, Mercurial, Subversion where you can create an account for free.

There are a lot of online sources that teach you how to use it:

1. Coursera

2. GitHub Learning Lab

3. YouTube

4. Freecodecamp