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Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Geographically distributed collaborative SEM analysis using WarpPLS

I am currently conducting a geographically distributed collaborative SEM analysis using WarpPLS. The analysis involves a few people in different states of the USA, and two people outside the country. The collaborators are not only separated by large distances, but also operate in different time zones.

Yet, we have no problems collaborating. The collaboration is asynchronous – one person does some work one day, and shares it with the others, who review the work in the next few days and respond.

Since we all have WarpPLS installed on our computers, we exchange different versions of a WarpPLS project file (extension “.prj”) with the same dataset. This way we can do analyses in turns, and discuss the results on emails.

Each slightly different project file is saved with a different name – e.g., W3J_InfoOvld_2010_03_02.prj, W3B_InfoOvld_2010_03_02.prj, W2J_InfoOvld_2010_03_02.prj etc.

In the examples above, the first three letters indicate the SEM algorithm used (W3 = Warp3 PLS Regression; W2 = Warp2 PLS Regression), and the resampling method used (J = jackknifing; B = bootstrapping). The second part of the name describes the dataset, and the final part the date.

This is just one way of naming files. It works for our particular project, but more elaborate file names can be used in more complex collaborative SEM analyses.

This geographically distributed collaborative SEM analysis highlights one of the advantages of WarpPLS over other SEM software: all that is needed for the analysis is contained in one single project file.

Moreover, the project file will typically be only a few hundred kilobytes in size. In spite of its small size, the file includes the original data, and all of the results of the analysis.

One member of our team asked me how the project file can be so small. The reason is that all of the SEM analysis results are stored in a format that allows for their rendering every time they are viewed.

Plots of nonlinear relationships, for example, are not stored as bitmaps, but as equations that allow WarpPLS  to re-create those plots at the time of viewing.

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