Structures of Scientific Collaboration (Inside Technology)


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These resource requirements brought the project within the purview of Japanese national politics, and its decision makers chose to cut funding to cope with budgetary difficulties.

Okinawa Institute of Science and Technology Graduate University OIST

The result is a morality tale for our times: Virtuous scientists with dreams of enlightening humanity, 2 Introduction beware the power of bureaucrats who live in fear of unbalanced books, irregular procedures, and low approval ratings—they will cut you off even when Nobel-caliber results are within reach. We, however, find the story of Kamioka telling for reasons that involve the composition and the organization of large scientific collaborations.

The prospect of scientific discovery requires significant technological apparatus—in this case a ten-story water tank built under a mountain range—that serves as a focal point for the work of several organizations.

How, we wonder, can it be simultaneously so vulnerable to a downturn in the economy of a wealthy nation? It will not do to suggest that the project personnel are scientific geniuses with no aptitude for politics. There may be scientific genius in the project, but there are boatloads of political savvy and organizational skill as well.

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Kamioka would not have come this far without an effective organization of people and talented managers of resources. Since its introduction by Price and Weinberg , the term has become a fen of vagueness and ambiguity through overuse. It points to the exponential growth of science in the West, the increasing proportion of social resources devoted to scientific activities, and the large scientific projects established by government laboratories. Our conclusion is that the notion is simply too broad to be analytically useful.


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We believe it is essential to set aside our amazement at the scale of such undertakings as Kamioka and focus instead on their organization and on their pursuit of instrumentation. One of the most significant developments in late-twentieth-century science is the frequency with Introduction 3 which the appetites of researchers for instrumentation have outstripped the resources of the organizations that employ them. Multi-organizational collaborations have come to populate many areas of science that require complex instrumentation or contributions from distinct disciplines or sectors.

This work is an empirical study of an increasingly important structure for the production of knowledge in the modern world: the multiorganizational collaboration. How do such collaborations form? Are larger collaborations more bureaucratic than smaller ones?

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What are their principal means of organization? Are organizational forms related to technology? To what degree are collaborations dependent on trust and other factors? These questions form the skeleton of the chapters to follow. We have built a database of 53 collaborations by analyzing the transcripts of oral histories conducted for a series of documentation research projects. Though some international and European collaborations were included for comparative perspective, our sample largely represents North American science.

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The scope of the AIP sample is a pragmatic constraint on our research. Insights gained from the qualitative analysis of interviews AIP conducted with participants and administrators enabled us to 4 Introduction develop sensible measures of the characteristics of collaborations. Using standard statistical analyses and classic organizational concepts, we identify relationships among the significant structural dimensions of the collaborations. We interpret these relationships by means of specific historical illustrations.

These relationships are a map through the maze of possible pathways that scientists pursue to satisfy their curiosities and career ambitions; the histories reveal the mechanisms of modern collaboration. By discerning and then explicating these relationships on the basis of the material at hand, we believe we can both advance sociological understanding of these new organizational forms and enrich policy discussions of their utility and impact. Our interpretation is based on the assumption that the structure of collaborations is best viewed in terms of the practices through which data are acquired.

What matters most are the forms of organization that integrate or segregate structural elements of collaborations; these forms shape the autonomy of member scientists in producing knowledge. We will not argue this point now, but we hope to demonstrate it in the chapters that follow. Next, current perspectives on scientific collaboration are reviewed.

Because it is somewhat unusual, our specific method of combining historical and sociological techniques is treated in some detail. In the final section we introduce the twin themes of technology and bureaucratic organization, summarizing the line of argument in the five substantive chapters that follow. Teamwork and Collaboration in Modern Physics An empirically informed understanding of multi-organizational collaborations as organizations is essential for the sociology of science. The projects undertaken by all the collaborations in our sample could have been performed by single organizations had the political will existed to provide a single organization with the necessary resources or to empower a single organi- Introduction 5 zation to command the resources of other organizations.

Although some nations are more inclined than others to create self-sufficient scientific organizations, even the large, territorial institutes of the Academy of Sciences in the former Soviet Union participated in some of the collaborations in our sample. Several important modes of collaboration do not meet our criterion for multi-organizational collaboration. We are not concerned with cases whereby a single organization develops its research program partly by contracting out for the services of other organizations; the contractors in this scenario are selling their services rather than agreeing to dedicate resources to a common set of objectives.

We are not concerned with collections of competing research teams that periodically swap findings or materials. Finally, we are not concerned with collaboration in the sense of the informal, unmanaged communication that has linked scientists in networks across organizational lines since the seventeenth century, if not longer.

This staple of sociological analysis became prominent in the study of the sciences when sociologists and physicists recognized that aspects of collective, coordinated research, so effective in the mission-oriented Manhattan Project Perry , were becoming routine in branches of peacetime research aimed at academic audiences. The experimenter, then, is not one person, but a composite.

One thing, however, he certainly is not. He is not the traditional image of a cloistered scientist working in isolation at his laboratory bench. The analysis of stratification in science examined phenomena such as the Matthew Effect, an aspect of which was the differential accrual of recognition by renowned senior scientists over their junior colleagues for collaborative work Merton The former had as its paradigm the professor-student association.

The latter was embodied in a more complex form of organization, involving an intricate division of labor and greater centralization of authority. The history of particle physics after the s illustrates that increasing the number of researchers on a project increases the number of organizations that are involved.

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These larger, more complex, and relatively formal affairs are named and socially recognized nodes of organization within science. Their novelty and prominence revive questions that were posed in the s, when both sociologists and physicists realized that meaningful experimental work could not be done by isolated and self-sufficient scientists: What is the basic unit of scientific research if not the individual?

How do individuals build reputations and careers in view of this new organizational framework? How do permanent organizations build reputations Introduction 7 and strengths when they must combine resources with competing organizations? What strictures do collaborations impose on their members? What forms of governance do they adopt, and what are the jurisdictions of their governors? Approaches to Scientific Collaboration To date, no comprehensive theory of scientific collaboration exists.

Yet scholarly studies of collaboration are neither novel nor scarce. However, they are overwhelmingly either statistical studies of authorship patterns in the published scientific literature bibliometric studies or detailed narratives of individual projects, organizations, or sites. Though valuable, such studies are limited. To compare collaborations across specialties and to reach empirically based conclusions about their characteristics, evolutions, and outcomes requires the analysis of collaborations from several areas of the sciences.

This is the first such study. Bibliometric studies use the public evidence of research activity— most often papers and reports, patents and agreements—as indicators of trends and processes. Co-authorship is typically employed as an indicator of collaboration. Because scientific journals are specialized by field and because journal articles include the organizational affiliations of the authors, bibliometric studies can determine trends in collaboration across nations and across areas of science. Studies have generally shown that multi-institutional co-authorship has increased over time.

For example, the percentage of such articles in the Science Citation Index16 rose from one-third of all articles worldwide in to one-half in From the early s until the early s the proportion of internationally co-authored papers doubled Luukkonen et al. Measured as a percentage of all co-authored articles, international co-authorship increased from 17 percent in to 29 percent in across all countries and fields. Not only is international collaboration increasing; inter-sectoral collaboration also has grown. About 25 percent of all papers published by academic authors involved co-authors in another sector, compared with 20 percent in But the available data for bibliometric studies set severe limits on the interpretability of results and on the character of questions that can be asked.

Co-authorship stems from several 8 Introduction types of social relationships—between colleagues, between teachers and pupils, between supervisors and assistants, and between junior and senior researchers. Yet the nature of these ties is not generally identifiable from the published record, and not all such relationships imply the existence of a formalized collaboration.

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Nevertheless, the trends are consistent with the view that collaboration among organizations is increasing in frequency and importance. In combination with the high public profiles of collaborations and the anecdotal impressions of eminent scientists regarding the increasing importance of collaborations, the case for sustained effort toward improving our understanding of collaborations is compelling. The more serious limit on co-authorship data is that such data cannot generate insights into the internal dynamics of collaborations.

Bibliometric studies group specific collaborative projects in static snapshots, without any indication of the underlying processes of formation, organization, and outcomes. The published result is the only evidence of a collaboration, divorced from social organization and context. Why did these scientists collaborate? How important was the distinction between leaders and followers? How often did they meet?

How did they resolve their difficulties?

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In short, what happened during the process of collaborative work? At the other end of the spectrum are theoretically informed case studies of particular collaborations or sites. Historians of science have provided extensively documented narratives of the development of accelerator laboratories that host particle-physics collaborations21 and have recounted the stories of individual collaborative experiments Krige ; Galison Anthropologists and sociologists have observed collaborative research projects and have provided important interpretive tools Traweek ; Zabusky ; Collins ; Knorr Cetina Case studies do overcome the main limits on bibliometric research, but they represent a beginning rather than an end.

They share a microsociological focus, a qualitative methodology, a cultural-anthropological or narrative orientation, and owing to the research intensity required by the approach an emphasis on single organizations, centers, or projects. Their strengths are in providing theoretical guidance, identifying social processes, and raising questions about important organizational and cultural dimensions. But when the findings of case studies are contrasted, they display such diversity as to defy generalization. Three examples may suffice. In contrast, Lyman Spitzer, the main scientist to lobby the National Aeronautics and Space Administration NASA and Congress to develop an orbiting optical telescope was unable to secure any role in the design and construction of the telescope Smith — In contrast, geophysicists planning to make in situ measurements in polar regions craved power-sharing arrangements with logistics experts and resented having to take time away from what they considered proper scientific work to master the intricacies of managing an expedition Schild In further contrast, the European Space Agency has placed engineers in charge of space-science missions.

Structures of Scientific Collaboration (Inside Technology) Structures of Scientific Collaboration (Inside Technology)
Structures of Scientific Collaboration (Inside Technology) Structures of Scientific Collaboration (Inside Technology)
Structures of Scientific Collaboration (Inside Technology) Structures of Scientific Collaboration (Inside Technology)
Structures of Scientific Collaboration (Inside Technology) Structures of Scientific Collaboration (Inside Technology)
Structures of Scientific Collaboration (Inside Technology) Structures of Scientific Collaboration (Inside Technology)
Structures of Scientific Collaboration (Inside Technology) Structures of Scientific Collaboration (Inside Technology)
Structures of Scientific Collaboration (Inside Technology) Structures of Scientific Collaboration (Inside Technology)
Structures of Scientific Collaboration (Inside Technology) Structures of Scientific Collaboration (Inside Technology)
Structures of Scientific Collaboration (Inside Technology)

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