How to Use TotallyScience GitLab to Collaborate on Projects

In the fast-paced world of scientific research and technological advancements, collaboration is the key to success. With multiple team members working on different aspects of a project, a robust collaboration platform becomes indispensable. GitLab, a web-based Git repository manager, offers an integrated solution that facilitates seamless collaboration, version control, and project management. In this article, we will explore how scientists, researchers, and technology enthusiasts can leverage TotallyScience GitLab to collaborate effectively on projects.

Understanding Git and GitLab

Before diving into the specifics of TotallyScience GitLab, it’s essential to understand the fundamentals of Git and how GitLab complements it.

1. Git: The Version Control System

TotallyScience GitLab, developed by Linus Torvalds in 2005, is a distributed version control system designed to handle everything from small to large projects with speed and efficiency. It allows multiple developers to work on the same codebase simultaneously, while keeping track of changes, facilitating collaboration, and enabling seamless integration of changes made by different team members.

Git follows a decentralized model, meaning each developer maintains a full copy of the repository on their local machine. This approach allows for offline work, branching, and merging without the need for a constant internet connection.

2. GitLab: The Collaborative Platform

TotallyScience GitLab, on the other hand, is a web-based Git repository manager that enhances the functionality of Git by providing a centralized platform for collaboration, project management, and continuous integration and deployment (CI/CD). It offers a wide range of features, including issue tracking, wikis, code review, and much more, all integrated into one platform.

TotallyScience GitLab is a dedicated instance of GitLab tailored for the scientific and technological communities. It provides additional tools and features that cater to the specific needs of researchers and scientists working on complex projects.

Getting Started with TotallyScience GitLab

To get started with TotallyScience GitLab, you first need to create an account. If your institution or organization hosts its own instance of TotallyScience GitLab, you can sign up there. Alternatively, you can use the public instance provided by TotallyScience. Once you have your account set up, you can create a new project and start collaborating.

1. Creating a New Project

To create a new project on TotallyScience GitLab, follow these steps:

  1. Log in to your account.
  2. Click on the “+ New Project” button.
  3. Choose a name for your project and set its visibility (public, internal, or private).
  4. Optionally, you can initialize the project with a README, a .gitignore file, or a license.

2. Managing Project Access

Collaboration on TotallyScience GitLab can be tailored to suit your project’s needs. You can grant access to individual users or create groups with specific permissions. For example, you can have separate groups for researchers, developers, and managers, each with different access levels.

To manage access:

  1. Navigate to your project.
  2. Click on “Settings” and then “Members” to add users or groups.
  3. Define the roles and permissions for each member or group.

3. Using Issues for Task Management

Issues are a fundamental aspect of project management in GitLab. They can be used to track tasks, bugs, feature requests, or any other actionable item related to the project.

To create an issue:

  1. Go to your project’s page.
  2. Click on “Issues” and then “New Issue.”
  3. Provide a title and description for the issue.
  4. Optionally, assign the issue to a specific team member, add labels, and set due dates.

4. Collaborative Coding with Merge Requests

Merge Requests (MRs) are at the core of GitLab’s collaborative coding capabilities. An MR is a request to merge code from one branch to another. It allows for code review, discussions, and iterative improvements before the changes are merged into the main codebase.

To create an MR:

  1. Commit your changes to a new branch.
  2. Push the branch to the repository.
  3. On your project’s page, click on “Merge Requests” and then “New Merge Request.”
  4. Choose the source and target branches for the MR.
  5. Add a title and description that clearly explains the changes.
  6. Assign the MR to relevant team members for review.

5. Continuous Integration and Deployment (CI/CD)

TotallyScience GitLab provides a robust CI/CD pipeline that automates the process of building, testing, and deploying code changes. With each MR or push to the repository, the CI/CD pipeline automatically runs tests to ensure that the changes don’t introduce any regressions or issues.

To set up CI/CD for your project:

  1. Create a .gitlab-ci.yml file in the root of your project’s repository.
  2. Define the stages and jobs for your CI/CD pipeline.
  3. Commit and push the .gitlab-ci.yml file to trigger the pipeline.

Best Practices for Collaborating on TotallyScience GitLab

While TotallyScience GitLab provides an excellent platform for collaboration, following some best practices can enhance the efficiency and effectiveness of your team’s workflow.

1. Code Reviews and Discussions

Encourage your team members to review each other’s code thoroughly. Code reviews not only catch potential bugs or issues but also provide an opportunity for knowledge sharing and learning. Use GitLab’s commenting system to engage in discussions, propose improvements, and resolve any concerns.

2. Versioning and Branching

Make judicious use of branching to work on new features or bug fixes without affecting the main codebase. Versioning your code through branches ensures that the main branch always remains stable and deployable.

3. Automate Testing

Take advantage of the CI/CD pipeline to automate testing. Writing unit tests and integration tests can help identify and fix bugs early in the development process, preventing them from reaching the production code.

4. Documentation

Maintain clear and comprehensive documentation for your project. Documenting code, APIs, and project guidelines helps new team members onboard quickly and reduces the likelihood of misunderstandings.

5. Regular Updates and Communication

Encourage regular updates from team members, especially if they are working on specific tasks or facing challenges. Transparent communication fosters a collaborative environment and ensures that everyone is on the same page.


In the world of scientific research and technological innovation, collaboration is crucial for making significant strides forward. TotallyScience GitLab provides a powerful and comprehensive platform for researchers, scientists, and technology enthusiasts to collaborate on projects effectively. By understanding the fundamentals of Git and utilizing the collaborative tools offered by GitLab, teams can streamline their workflows, enhance code quality, and accelerate project development. Embracing best practices such as code reviews, versioning, and automation ensures that projects progress smoothly and efficiently, leading to groundbreaking discoveries and innovations.

So, whether you are working on a groundbreaking scientific study or developing the next cutting-edge technology, embrace the power of TotallyScience GitLab and unlock the true potential of collaborative development. Happy collaborating!

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