Networked Research

Collaboration and communication

e-Research is not only about data, it is also about collaboration. It is expected to facilitate new forms of large-scale collaboration and more collaboration across the boundaries of disciplines and specialties (Finholt 2002; Walsh and Maloney 2002; Berman, Fox et al. 2003). Many
e-science pilots are moreover the fruit of intense cooperation between academia and industry.

The humanities and social sciences are a particularly interesting area to study the development of scientific and scholarly collaboration because the variation of forms of collaboration and non-collaboration is so huge (Fry 2003b). Virtually every possible configuration is practiced in one field or another. The spectrum goes from the traditional, lone scholar working in a decidedly low-tech environment to the tight industrially organised group in which each PhD student and postdoc solves a particular problem. This means that comparative fieldwork in the humanities and social sciences is very rewarding. The same is true for the forms in which scholars and researchers choose to communicate their work and results to larger audiences. The Studio research in this theme will focus on the way the new media interact with forms of collaboration and communication. It moreover aims to support them with building new forms of collaboration (e.g. collaboratories) and communication (e.g. new Web site conceptions).

A key issue concerns the ways the dynamics of collaboration are affected by mediation by new media and digital networks. How does the technological possibility intersect with traditional human need for communication? The implications of collaborative work for the resulting knowledge products will also be studied. Are forms of knowledge affected by the way they need to be communicated? Which types of intellectual work seem amenable to virtualisation and digitisation? How does audience variation across disciplines shape collaborative practices and the integration of e research? Does the organisation of research change, as units within a field become more dependent or more specialised? An interesting question is in what ways the dynamics of very large-scale collaboration differs from more modest networks and how this affects the development of scientific collaboration in the humanities and social sciences. An important question is also how e research shapes the traditional boundary between informal and formal communication across fields. Answers to these questions affect the way we think about the design of tools for collaboration. This is for example relevant to the construction of collaborative analytic instruments.

Within this theme, the use of the Web as means of representation and collaboration will be a specific focus. This will intersect with the work in the methodological focus on Web archiving. The creation and dynamics of collaboratories will be a priority within this theme. The collaboratories of the Studio themselves will be monitored in order to draw lessons about their dynamics.