What is Collaboratory?

Collaboratory is a database system to document community–engaged activities and partnerships that take place between Bowling Green State University and local, regional and international organizations. This collection of activities and partners tells the story of mutually beneficial and sustainable relationships through scholarship, teaching, research, creative activities, service, and more. 

Collaboratory software permits greater institution-wide coordination by enabling users to search the database, identify which faculty, staff, and community partners are tackling the same social issues, and find out with whom they are partnering and in which communities.  It also offers robust reporting capabilities that will enable each college and unit to better understand and showcase the important community engagement and public service activites of BGSU.

We invite you to explore The Collaboratory to learn more about these important collaborations and to submit your community engagement and public service activities into the database.  See the resources below on how to get started.

With Collaboratory, we hope to capture community engagement and public service activities at BGSU.  The definitions for these activities are provided below as guidance for determining if activities in your area may fit.

Community Engagement is a process by which an institution works with community partners to co-create and implement mutually beneficial activities distinguished by collaboration and reciprocity. The exchange of expertise and ideas between academic and external community partners leads to co–creation of knowledge and activities that generate benefits for the academic institution, as well as community partners.

Public Service (sometimes referred to as community service or outreach) occurs when an institution provides expertise, resources, and services to or for community individuals, groups, organizations, and the general public. External entities may invite, host, attend, participate, and benefit from the activity, but the primary responsibility for the design, delivery, and assessment of the activity is shaped by the academic institution.

Submitting Activities

Community engagement and public service activities are submitted for publication by faculty or staff leads.  Students can submit activities as proxies, but must assign the activity to a faculty or staff lead.  Submitted activites are reviewed by the Civic Engagement in the C. Raymond Marvin Center for Student Leadership staff administrators.  If data is incomplete or needs to be updated the activity will be sent back to the creator of the activity to update.  Once updated it can be resubmitted for publication.  After the Civic Engagement staff administrator approves the activity, it will be published and searchable within the system. 

Updating Activities

Activities can be updated over time to add new information, specifically changes to numerical data such as student involvement, hours contributed, and individuals impacted. When you are initially entering an activity, you will need to make some decisions about who owns the activity, to ensure regular ongoing data updates.

Viewing and Searching Activities

Approved activities can be viewed and searched publically by anyone visiting the site.  

Accessing Reports and Campus Data

An internal report dashboard to review all activity data is available to members with administrator permission.  Currently, only Civic Engagement staff have administrator access.  Custom reports can be generated to identify all activities connected to your college, unit, office, department, or organizational area at BGSU.

Does my Activity belong in the Collaboratory?

Graphic modified from Arizona State University Collaboratory Database help page (

Flow chart describing the four main questions to determine if an activity should be entered into the Collaboratory.

If it is a fit, follow the simple steps below to get started

1. Visit and log in using your BGSU username and password.

2. Complete the registration form and update your profile with a photo, contact information, and other details.

3. Review activities submitted by other BGSU faculty, staff, and students.

4. When you are ready to add community engagement or public service activities click on the "Add Activities" button and follow the prompts to begin inputting your data. Data collected includes:

  • Activity title, a brief description, contact information, and location
  • Collaborators (institutional units, faculty/staff partners, community partners, and other institutions of higher education)
  • Populations served (urban communities, youth, etc.) and areas of focus (education, health and wellness, community and economic development, etc.)
  • Connected scholarship, courses, and student involvement
  • Outputs, institutional outcomes, and community impacts

View the Collaboratory Activity Form Preview

BGSU Campus Contacts

Please feel free to contact Civic Engagement in the C. Raymond Marvin Center for Student Leadership us by phone or email.  We are happy to set up a meeting to talk about questions that arise during the data entry process.  419-372-9865 or

Submit questions

Collaboratory Knowledge Base

The Collaboratory has an established Knowledge Base to provide you with answers and advice regarding common questions.  Below are the most important sections we recommend for new members.  Additionally, a chat bot is available when entering activities to answer any urgent questions.

About Collaboratory - Features glossary of key terms, the unit of analysis, who enters data, what is publically viewable, and how community engagement and public service differ.

Creating Activities - Features information about how to create an activity, assign a student proxy, identify collaborators, what is required for an activity, strategies for entered activities completed by students in a course, and adding an image to your activity.

Managing Activities - Features information about how to edit, save, and delete activites, when is an activity published, activity leads and faculty/staff partners, accepting a faculty/staff partner invitation, activity view roll bar, checking on the status of an activity you submitted, change an activity's designation, and how to change activity ownership.

Member Home - Features information about member accounts, user roles and permissions, updating your role and institutional relationship, resetting/changing password and email, and alert settings.

Proxying Activities - One feature of the system is to assign student proxies to enter data on your behalf.  This section features information about proxying activities, how to invite proxies, guidance for being a proxy, checking the status of your proxied activities, accepting an invitation to proxy, claiming a proxied activity, and submitting an activity directly for publication as a proxy.

Courses - Features information about connecting courses to activities, creating a new course, editing sections of a course, deleting courses, when a course is published, syllabus invitation to capture course-based activities.

The following frequently asked questions are organized by category of data entry in the Collaboratory: Basic Information, Collaborators, Focus, Scholarship, and Goals.  Additionally, we provide a general question category for all other questions.  If you have a question you think should be added to our list, please submit it through the form below.

Basic Information

This section focuses on data about the activity title, description, image, website, primary contact information, activity start and end date, and location of the activity.

You will want a title that is short yet descriptive of the activity.  If it is an annual activity, you may want to include the year (e.g. MLK Jr. Day 2021).  If you are entering activities that are annual events, please be sure to maintain your naming convention. 

Do not focus on including that name of courses or locations of that activity in the title, as that information is entered elsewhere.

What is your elevator speech?  Write a brief paragraph that distinguishes your activity from others at BGSU and helps the viewer understand the basic purposes and intentions.

You should include information about the actual activity completed, who was primarily involved (faculty, staff, students), and why the activity was needed.  Do not worry so much about including the names of community partners or other collaborators connected to the activity.  Collaborators are added in another section.

Often, information that is not entered elsewhere in the system can be added to the description to provide a viewer with more nuanced details about your activity. 

We encourage you to include an image with the activity.  Ideally, it would be a picture of the activity taking place, but generic pictures are also okay.  Providing a picture makes the content more engaging to a viewer.  Please adhere to the following specifications for pictures:

  1. Ensure your photos comply to copyright and policies related to the protection of minors and vulnerable populations.
  2. The recommended image size is 300 x 300 pixels for best resolution.
  3. Include an asset title that is descriptive of the image to ensure accessibility.
  4. Maximum allowed size is 10 MB
  5. Format types allowed are jpg or png

Some activities have a dedicated website or Facebook page that provides more information about the activity.  However, this is an optional field.  We encourage you to provide the website or Facebook page to give the viewer more information.

Many activities have distinct start and end dates.  If that is the case for your activity, simply list the "Activity Start Date" (MM/YYYY format) and "Activity End Date" (MM/YYYY format) for your activity.  If it is an ongoing activity you just leave the "Activity End Date" blank.

It is likely your activity has a primary location where it takes place.  If this is the case for your activity, simply add the address and location information for the required fields.

If your activity has multiple locations where it takes place, then you can use the "Add Another Site" button to add other locations and complete the appropriate required address and location fields.  Please note that this data is used to compose geographic heat mapping to show the distribution of activities across a geographic area. 

We encourage you to resist the temptation to add every collaborator's location as a site, because the address and location data affiliated with your collaborators is entered in the Collaborators section.  However, if you feel it is best to add multiple locations where the activity takes place, we defer to your judgement on this.


This section focuses on collaborator data and helps to map relationships of internal and external partners to the activity.

These are internal campus collaborators such as departments, offices, clinics, networks/coalitions, museums, or centers/institutes involved with your activity.  Be sure to include your own unit. 

When you click on the "Add Unit" button you'll see a searchable list of campus units.  These units were prepopulated in Spring of 2020 reflecting the campus names and reporting structure at that time.  If you believe a campus unit is missing or misnamed, please contact or 419-372-9865 and we will work with you add the unit or update the name.

Programs and initiatives are institution-identified programs or initiatives.  Typically, these are large, overarching, and cut across campus.  Currently, BGSU has opted to only list our current strategic goals as programs and initiatives to select.  If you have suggestions for programs and initiatives that should be added, please contact us at or 419-372-9865.

This field is for you to identify others at BGSU who worked with you on this activity.  When you add them, an email invitation will be sent to them by the system to invite them to be connected to the activity and they will will associated with the published activity once they accept the invitation.  These faculty/staff partners will also have the ability to edit the activity if needed.

Community organizations that are partners of your activity should be added.  Community organizations deserve to know when work they have contributed to is shared publically by BGSU.  Therefore, all community organizations listed here will be listed as collaborators on your activity - and they will receive an email notifying them that their organization has been included (if you list contact information).  We strongly encourage you to include the primary contact first name, last name and email address.  This should be the person you most closely worked with at the organization.  

When you click on "Add Community Organization" a window appears where you can search for community organizations already in the system.  You can use the search feature to find your community organization.  Please be sure to check your spelling when searching, as this can often be the reason you cannot find an organization.

If your organization is not listed, you can create the organization in the system.  Just click on the text in the upper right corner that says "Don't see it? Add New".  This will take you to a new window to provide contact information, location, description, and categorization of the organization.  Please complete as thoroughly as possible, especially the description field.  A best practice is to pull the organization mission statement from their website and include it in the description field.

Some things to keep in mind are to include generic emails and phone numbers instead of personal contacts, if possible. 

For the "Type" field you have a choice of For-profit, Non-profit, Education: K-12, Education: Higher Education, Government, Religious, and Informal.

Lastly, once submitted and approved the email provided will receive a notification that they have been identified as a part of your activity record.

When you list a community organization, a question field to complete includes "What is the organization's role in planning, designing, implementing, and evaluating this activity?"  There are a list of options to choose from that will guide your selections.  Please select all that apply.  These help to identify how and what depth the community organization has been involved with the activity.  There is an other category if you do not see a community organization role that fits your activity.

Yes, you can add multiple community organizations and there is no limit.

These are collaborators at other college and university campuses.  Just as with the Community Organizations a list of existing organizations in the system is available for you to choose from.  If you do not see a partner institution, you can always add it by clicking on the "Don't see it? Add New" text in the upper right corner of window.  Fill in the fields as thoroughly as possible.

If you toggle the red "no" button below "Is the activity funded?" the button will turn green and change to "Yes".  Below that you will see the button to "Add Funder". 

Once you click the "Add Funder" button a list of fields becomes available to add details about the funder such as their name, source type (internal to the university or external), total monetary amount in dollars, funding start date, and funding end date.

You can add multiple funders if needed.

We request that you list them as a community organization and for the question "What is the organizations role in planning, designing, implementing, or evaluating the Activity?" you make sure to select "Other" and list "Provide in-kind donations for the activity."

The funder role is meant to document grants and other monetary support for the activity either internal or external to the university.

Yes, if the community organization was involved in the design, planning, implementation, or assessment of the activity and they also provided monetary support for the activity.   Often this is not the case, but rarely a community organization may be highly involved in both aspects and you can list them in both areas.  The funding data is not publically visible, and is designed more for internal use.

Yes. If you list a community partner as a collaborator on your activity, they will be notified when the activity is published. To see an example of the email message that they will receive, please visit Collaboratory's support page


This section is for identifying the target populations served by the activity and the main and specific focus areas address by the activity.

When selected target populations you should select all that apply.  Sometimes activities are general and broadly open to the public, and please note there is an option for "General Public" to embody this. 

As with other areas of the system, there is an "other" check box and data field to add a target poplution if you don't see it available.

There are seven broad areas of focus you can select including:

  • Arts and Culture
  • Community and Economic Development
  • Education
  • Environmental Sustainability
  • Government and Public Safety
  • Health and Wellness
  • Social Issues
When selecting focus areas you can select just the broad area(s), or you can select more specific areas that appear once you select a broad area.  Be mindful that some specific areas may have similarities across the broad areas, so it is advised that you click on all the broad areas to see your options and then unselect if not needed.  You can select as many areas as needed to accurately reflect your activity.
Lastly, as with other areas of the Collaboratory, if you do not see your specific area of focus, you can select "other" and add it to your activity.


This section focuses on identifying any courses connected to your activity, how students were involved if not through a course, and if any scholarship, research, or creative activities are part of the activity.

When you get to the Scholarship section the first question asks "Is this activity connected to one or more credit-bearing courses?"

The default is for the button to be set to "No."  If you wish to change this, click on the red button and it will change from red to green and state "Yes," and the "Link Section" button appears.  To link your courses click on the "Link Section" button.  You can use the search field to find your course and section number for the appropriate year and semester.  All BGSU courses have been prepopulated into the system from Fall 2017 to present.  New semester courses are added one week prior to the beginning of each semester.

If you cannot find your course, you can add it by clicking on the "Don't see it? Add new Course" text in the upper right hand corner of the window.  Follow the prompts to add your course and section.  Once you complete the prompts and submit, it will be sent to BGSU Center for Public Impact administrators to review and approve.

The second question in the Scholarship section asks "Does the activity involve students outside of course work?"

The default is for the button to be set to "No."  If you wish to change this, click on the red button and it will change from red to green and state "Yes," and a list of student involvement options appears.  Select all that apply, and if you do not see the type of involvement you are looking for you can add it by selecting "other" and filling in the text field.

You also have questions about how many non-enrolled students and how many hours the non-enrolled students completed per term.  The use of the term "non-enrolled" here refers to students participating in your community engagement or public service activity who are not part of a course.  Enrolled students part of any connected course get counted in the course data.  Lastly, the use of the word term refers to the term of your activity (which you set during the Basic Information section), not semester or school term.

The final question in the Scholarship section asks "Is this activity directly connected to scholarship?" 

The default is for the button to be set to "No."  If you wish to change this, click on the red button and it will change from red to green and state "Yes," and additional fields will appear.

For Types of scholarship you can select from qualitative, quantitative, mixed/multiple methods, creative activity, or other.

If the activity has an IRB protocol you can click on the red no button to toggle and turn green to reveal the option to list the institutional identifier for the IRB protocol.

The Scholaraly products section provides you with a list to select expected and achieved scholarship products such as books, articles, exhibits, patents, performances, etc, and the other category if your activity scholarly product is not listed.


This section focuses on documenting the expected and achieved outputs, institutional outcomes, and impacts as well as any formal assessment of the activity.

Outputs identify what was produced through or as a result of your activity.  Expected outputs indicates what you hope or plan to accomplish.  Achieved outputs indicates a completed state, whether or not it has been formally assessed.

These identify the short-term or intermediate changes or benefits to BGSU that directly result from your activity.  Expected indicates what you hope or plan to accomplish.  Achieved indicates a completed state, whether or not it has been formally assessed.

Impacts identify the broad or long-term changes that occurred in the community as a result of your activity.  Expected indicates what you hope or plan to accomplish.  Achieved indicates a completed state, whether or not it has been formally assessed.

In the Goals section there is a question that states "How many community individuals were served by this activity?"  You can provide a numerical value in the field.

Consider the formal and informal communications.  List the top three to five thoughts/comments shared by the community organizations.  This is a great opportunity to reach out to your community partners to get quotes and impact statements from them and include them in this section.

The short answer is no, but the best practice is to design your activity to include intentional reflection and assessment on outputs, outcomes, and impacts.

The very last question of the Goals section gives you the option to upload a formal report or analysis of the activity if one has been completed.  Please not that there are size limitations for the file you can upload (maximum size allowed = 10 MB) and the allowed file formats are doc, pdf, or rtf.  Be sure when uploading a file that it is named clearly for accessibility purposes.

Unfortunately, you are not allowed to upload multiple reports.  You can combine multiple reports into on PDF, but be mindful of the 10 MB size limitation.

General Questions

These questions relate to general elements and considerations of the system and may inform how you make decisions about your data and using the system.

Campus Contact

The BGSU Center for Public Impact are the campus administrators of the Collaboratory and can assist you with questions related to how best to input your data content, provide examples of activities, share how others have made decisions about their data, and also some technical questions related to the system.  Questions can be directed to or 419-372-9865.    

Collaboratory Contacts

The Collaboratory also has a great Knowledge Base which include short articles related to common questions and issues.  You can click on the Need Help tab on this page to access the Knowledge Base and some common sections we have highlighted for ease of use.

Lastly, when you are entering data in The Collaboratory, a chat bot is available to assist you with immediate questions that may arise.  The chat bot is featured in the lower right corner of your browser pane.

All the required data in the system is marked with a red asterisk.  We encourage you to include as much data as possible when entering your activities, even if it is not a required field.

Additionally, there is data you provide to the system that you can make public or private.  We encourage you to make as much data public as possible, especially contact information.  A goal for this database system is to help foster future collaborations, and the more data that is public will help with this goal.  However, we defer to you as the activity creator to make the best judgement for your activity.

Any data field that has an eye with a slash through it means the data entered is considered private and is only available for internal reports and not publically visable or searchable.

Eye, slash Free Icon of Phosphor light

When you enter your data you will see a progress section at the top of the page:

1. Basic Info     2. Collaborators    3. Focus     4. Scholarship     5.  Goals    6. Submit

You can click on any of these to go forwards and backwards in the system.  To save your progress, click on the "6. Submit" text at the top of the page.  This will take you to the final step before submitting.  In the lower right corner you will see two options, one being "Save & Exit" and the other "Submit Activity."  To save your progress, simply click save and exit.   

To return to your activity at a future time just follow the steps below:

  1. Login into the Collaboratory at
  2.  Click on the "Home" button at the top of your dashboard banner.
  3. Scroll down to see your Activities.
  4. Select the Activity you wish to resume editing.
  5. The activity will appear and a status dashboard will appear at the top of the page with an "Actions" drop down button.
  6. Click on the "Actions" drop down button and select "Edit"

To return to your activity at a future time just follow the steps below:

  1. Login into the Collaboratory at
  2.  Click on the "Home" button at the top of your dashboard banner.
  3. Scroll down to see your Activities.
  4. Select the Activity you wish to resume editing.
  5. The activity will appear and a status dashboard will appear at the top of the page with an "Actions" drop down button.
  6. Click on the "Actions" drop down button and select "Edit"

Yes you can.  To return to your activity at a future time just follow the steps below:

  1. Login into the Collaboratory at
  2.  Click on the "Home" button at the top of your dashboard banner.
  3. Scroll down to see your Activities.
  4. Select the Activity you wish to resume editing.
  5. The activity will appear and a status dashboard will appear at the top of the page with an "Actions" drop down button.
  6. Click on the "Actions" drop down button and select "Edit"

As an activity creator you will submit your activity for publication once you have entered in all the required fields of data.  The BGSU Collaboratory system administrator will then review your activity and either approve or deny the activity.  If approved, the activity is published.  If denied, you will receive a message to return to your activity and edit based on questions or requests for editing by the BGSU CPI Collaboratory administrator.  If you have questions about a denied activity, please consult the "Need Help" tab to connect with us.

Within the system you can add contacts for your community partner(s) related to your activity.  This information will never be public information, and only BGSU Collaboratory administrators have access to this information in the internal reporting dashboard.

Don't see an answer to your question? Submit one here.

Updated: 01/03/2022 10:58AM