Colwiz stands for ‘collective wisdom’ (terrible name!). It advertises itself as ‘research management, collaboration and productivity in one place for free’ and has just been launched by a group of scientists at Oxford University. They say it will help you to “manage the entire research lifecycle from an initial idea, through a complex collaboration, to publication of the results”.
The idea of Virtual Research Environments (VREs) has been around for a few years but they have remained niche tools. JISC has funded some projects in its VRE programme mainly carrying out particular tasks or targeted at a specific research area. myGrid is perhaps the most versatile tool to have come out of the programme, and has spawned a number of other tools. I saw a demo once of the British Library’s RIC (Research Information Centre), developed in partnership with Microsoft. It looked very interesting as an idea, and potentially powerful, but I haven’t heard much about it recently. I see that their website says a beta release is due in March 2011.
It is of course very easy to make a large number of claims for a new software tool, much harder to deliver. It’s too early to judge Colwiz yet but its ambition is commendable.