Authors: Jessica Bolin*, Boston College
Topics: Higher Education, Communication, Human-Environment Geography
Keywords: collaboration, team science, mixed methods
Session Type: Paper
Start / End Time: 8:00 AM / 9:40 AM
Room: Studio 4, Marriott, 2nd Floor
Presentation File: No File Uploaded
Addressing complex, societally-relevant questions often requires innovative and integrative research collaborations. The Experimental Program to Stimulate Competitive Research, or EPSCoR, organized the 24th National Conference on Collaborative Capacity to facilitate research that extends beyond a single discipline, institution, or jurisdiction. Collaborative science teams comprised of researchers in the social, natural, and physical sciences face common and unique challenges in science. This evaluation examines factors impacting the processes and outcomes of collaborative science projects funded by EPSCoR and other organizations. Recent research exploring epistemological pluralism (Miller et al. 2008), as well as the emerging area of ‘Science of Team science’ (Fior 2008, Hall et al. 2008, Stokol et al. 2008), establish a foundation for understanding the many facets of collaboration; however, rarely is collaborative science examined considering the variation in team size, geographic dispersion, existing relationships, and discipline-rooted distinctions. To investigate these dynamics, I employ a mixed methods approach by surveying attendees of the 24th National EPSCoR Conference, facilitating a focus group comprised of research teams that identified new projects at the event, and cross-analyzing case studies developed using in-depth interviews with project members. The findings fall into three broad categories of factors: interpersonal, integrative, and structural. Interpersonal dynamics—including networks, in-person interaction, and trust—are important to overcome integrative factors such as differences in language, methodologies, and expectations. Structural factors, including team size and geographic proximity, affect how collaborative science teams can overcome specific challenges. These factors have far-reaching consequences for successfully negotiating interpersonal, disciplinary, and geographic boundaries.