Structures of Scientific Collaboration Information

Collaboration among organizations is rapidly becoming common in scientific researchas globalization and new communication technologies make it possible for researchers from differentlocations and institutions to work together on common projects. These scientific and technologicalcollaborations are part of a general trend toward more fluid, flexible, and temporary organizationalarrangements, but they have received very limited scholarly attention. Structures of ScientificCollaboration is the first study to examine multi-organizational collaboration systematically,drawing on a database of 53 collaborations documented for the Center for History of Physics of theAmerican Institute of Physics. By integrating quantitative sociological analyses with detailed casehistories, Shrum, Genuth, and Chompalov pioneer a new and truly interdisciplinary method for thestudy of science and technology. Scientists undertake multi-organizational collaborations becauseindividual institutions often lack sufficient resources--including the latest technology--to achievea given research objective. The authors find that collaborative research depends on both technologyand bureaucracy; scientists claim to abhor bureaucracy, but most collaborations use itconstructively to achieve their goals. The book analyzes the structural elements of collaboration(among them formation, size and duration, organization, technological practices, and participantexperiences) and the relationships among them. The authors find that trust, though viewed aspositive, is not necessarily associated with successful projects; indeed, the formal structures ofbureaucracy reduce the need for high levels of trust--and make possible the independence so valuedby participating scientists.Wesley Shrum is Professor of Sociology at Louisiana State University andlongtime Secretary of the Society for Social Studies of Science (4S). Joel Genuth, a former ProjectHistorian at the American Institute of Physics, teaches mathematics to incarcerated juveniles at theHampshire Educational Collaborative in Massachusetts. Ivan Chompalov is Assistant Professor ofSociology at Edinboro University of Pennsylvania.

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