Social dynamics of scientific collaborations

Feb 18, 2013

Society currently faces profound social and environmental challenges that must be met to secure a sustainable future for humanity. A major challenge in achieving this goal is discovering how best to synthesize important findings and ideas from many disciplines and use them to produce scientifically informed social and environmental policy.

This task is not easy. Different disciplines use different theories and methods, and scientists and policy makers rarely work together. New types of research centers are needed, as are new ways of organizing collaborations between scientists and between scientists and policy makers.

New research by John Parker of Barrett, The Honors College at Arizona State University and Edward Hackett of ASU's School of and Social Change works to identify the specific types of research environments and social interactions that facilitate success in these collaborations.

Parker presented the team's analysis of factors that facilitate cross-disciplinary collaborations between scientists and policy makers today (Feb. 18), at the 2013 annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. His talk was titled "Ecology Transformed: NCEAS and Organizing for Synthesis."

Parker and Hackett are using novel, state-of-the-art research instruments known as "sociometric sensors" in their investigation. These are wearable computers that record data about how scientists and policy makers interact with each other, including movement, vocal tones, interruptions, volume and other conversational nuances.

They will use these sensors to study scientists working on real problems at several research centers around the world with the aim of identify patterns of that are best related to collaborative success. Sensor data will also be integrated with interviews, surveys and observations of the scientists.

Hackett and Parker hope that the groundwork they build in these studies will pave the way for future research on the same topic and allow for the creation of new types of research centers capable of meeting the challenges of the future. Their work also has implications for ASU's vision as The New American University.

"What we are doing," Parker said, "is related to what ASU is trying to do on a larger scale. By embedding engagement into activities, the university hopes to positively impact the social and environmental development of individuals and the community as a whole."

Explore further: Computer games give a boost to English

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Strengthening the bond between policy and science

Mar 10, 2012

One only has to be reminded of the BSE crisis and the MMR vaccine scare to recognise the importance of having policy informed by the best available science. Now, a collaboration of over fifty academics and policy makers from ...

Internet emerges as social research tool

Feb 14, 2009

For the past two decades, the Internet has been used by many as an easy-to-use tool that enables the spread of information globally. Increasingly, the Web is moving beyond its use as an electronic "Yellow Pages" and online ...

Southwest pueblo-dwellers key to modern climate policy?

Feb 19, 2012

Vulnerability to climate change presents policy challenges to local, state, regional, national and international entities, particularly at a time when the public and policy-makers still struggle conceptually with the complexities ...

Recommended for you

Computer games give a boost to English

8 hours ago

If you want to make a mark in the world of computer games you had better have a good English vocabulary. It has now also been scientifically proven that someone who is good at computer games has a larger ...

Saddam Hussein—a sincere dictator?

13 hours ago

Are political speeches manipulative and strategic? They could be – when politicians say one thing in public, and privately believe something else, political scientists say. Saddam Hussein's legacy of recording private discussions ...

Healthy working environment is a salvation

15 hours ago

Contract workers in Norway often face the worst and most unpredictable working conditions. But good management and support from colleagues makes these workers more robust.

Why marvellous isn't awesome any more

15 hours ago

Using the Spoken British National Corpus 2014, a very large collection of recordings of real-life, informal, spoken interactions between speakers of British English from across the United Kingdom, Cambridge ...

User comments : 0