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Collaborative Science: Designing the Future. Dr. Susan Winter University of Maryland, College Park National Science Foundation. “ …promote the progress of science… advance the national health, prosperity and welfare… secure the national defense… ”

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Collaborative science designing the future

Collaborative Science: Designing the Future

Dr. Susan Winter

University of Maryland, College Park

National science foundation
National Science Foundation

“…promote the progress of science… advance the national health, prosperity and welfare… secure the national defense…”

National Science Foundation Act of 1950

EPSCoR goals

stimulate sustainable improvements in participants’ R&D capacity and competitiveness

advance science and engineering capabilities in EPSCoR jurisdictions

Us r d fragmented difficult to influence much less control
US R&D Fragmented: Difficult to Influence, Much Less Control

Universities Inherently Parochial

Government Jurisdictional Issues

Private Sector Competitors

Advance science and engineering capacity
Advance Science and Engineering Capacity

Complex intellectual challenges

Multi-disciplinary collaboration among diverse teams sharing common resources

Distributed Geographically

Virtual Organizations!

Organization of scientific work
Organization of Scientific Work

Old Science

Lab, Researcher + Assistants

Division of Labor

Narrow Focus of Work

New Science

Complex Problems

Shared Resources

Interdisciplinary Teams

Global Operations, Distributed, Asynchronous


  • Infrastructure Development

    • Enabling Technologies

  • Organization of Work

    • Exploitation of Capability

Principles for designing collaborative science organizations
Principles for Designing Collaborative Science Organizations

  • Informed and Reflective Choices

    • General Principles

    • Understand Specific Contexts


  • Likelihood of Success for Kinds of Alliances

  • Knowledge-based Alliances Least Likely

  • Leadership and Processes are Important

  • Silos are Hard

  • Interactions

  • Incentives

  • Insights

    • Building Cultures

    • Building Spanning Roles

Knowledge management group and team science
Knowledge Management/ Group and Team Science

  • Trust is Key

  • Absorptive Capacity

  • Tacit vs. Explicit Knowledge

  • Sociotechnical systems
    Sociotechnical Systems

    • “If You Build it, They Will Come” Myth

    • Crowdsourcing/Social Participation

      • Citizen Science

      • Prizes/Contests/Competitions

      • Gamification

    • Incentives NOT well understood

    3 aspects of scientific work
    3 Aspects of Scientific Work

    • Assets

      • What do you have to work with?

    • Knowledge Flows

      • Who tells who about what and when?

    • Governance

      • Who can make what decisions?

      • What are the incentives?

    3 aspects of scientific work1
    3 Aspects of Scientific Work


    Collaboration Success

    Knowledge-based Alliances vs. Sharing Equipment or Data

    Silos Impede Knowledge Flows

    Mandating Use vs. Incentives

    • Assets

    • Knowledge Flows

    • Governance

    Types of collaborations
    Types of Collaborations

    • Lifecycle and Endurance

      • Temporary, Recurring, Permanent

    • Boundedness

      • Problem-focused vs. Group-enabling

    • Scale and Scope

      • 2 vs. 2,000 Scientists

    Determinants of enablers
    Determinants of Enablers

    • Degree of Shared Context

      • Discipline, Department, Organization, Country, Language, Culture

    • Task and Actor Interdependence

      • Divisible, Serial Dependence, Co-creation

    Determinants of enablers1
    Determinants of Enablers

    • Regulatory Environments

      • Degrees of Freedom?

    • Technical and Human Infrastructure

      • Tools

        • Custom, Off-the-Shelf, End-User Developed

        • Heterogeneous Environments (Platforms, Networks)

        • Poor Fit to Tasks

        • Technical Difficulties are the Norm!

      • Human

        • Large Gaps in Expertise on Teams

    Mix modalities to enable knowledge flows
    Mix Modalities to Enable Knowledge Flows

    • Oral

      • Face-to-Face, videoconference, phone

    • Written

      • Manuals/Wikis, Contracts, Journal Articles Pictures/Graphics (drawing boards), Meta-data, MOUs, email, Text Messages, Blogs, Tweets

    Is this easy no
    Is this easy? No!

    • Hitting a Moving Target

      • Will Eventually Sort it Out

      • Goal = Accelerate Process so Get Sorted Faster

    • Hard and Persistent Problems even with the Help of the Organizational Sciences

    • Resources are Sparsely Distributed and Poorly Connected (Who do you call for help?)

      • Hard to Disseminate Lessons Learned

    Problems are tractable if
    Problems Are Tractable If

    • Committed & Not Easily Discouraged

    • In It for the Long Run

      • Issues Play out Over Time

      • Iterative Process of Doing & Learning

      • Synthesis Across Instances for Patterns

    • Know why you are invested in this

      • Complementary Assets

    • Engage Really Good People to Work on Them

    Designing collaborative research organizations smart learning by doing
    Designing Collaborative Research Organizations: Smart Learning by Doing

    • Bring Assets to Bear on the Problem

      • Research Evidence

      • Industry Lessons Learned

      • Assessment for Continuous Improvement

    • Support Leaders and Members for Knowledge Transfer/Deployment

      • Workshops, Manuals, Online Resources

      • More Research/Translation to Practice

    Questions? Learning by Doing

    Collaborative science designing the future

    Research Evidence: Learning by Doing


    Understanding Innovation Communities

    Translational science

    Realizing the Potential

    Building Innovation Communities

    Tailored suite of materials:

    - Practices, tools, processes…

    - Scale, Disciplinarity, Pedagogy


    Good Practices

    Human Capital