As the research community gains insight into the value of expanding research beyond traditional disciplinary boundaries we are also gaining appreciation for how difficult it is to manage complex interdisciplinary, multi-institutional research projects. Conducting research in this way introduces a host of challenges for both new and experienced researchers. In the midst of their efforts to integrate individual, disciplinary, and institutional perspectives on content, research teams are challenged with developing joint decision making processes, resource allocation policies, collaboration guidelines, data sharing agreements and coordinated work strategies - all among individuals of different "cultures".
Goal and Outline
Researchers working on interdiscipinary efforts are typically mature researchers; with experience with research administration within their own universities and often with external granting organizations. They often have long-term relationships with colleagues in their disciplines and have been working across institutional boundaries. The research management techniques suited to this distributed communities of practice have taken many years to develop and refine, and in many cases have served the community well. However, this "learn as you go model" is risky, expensive, and inefficient, and typically excludes younger faculty. The level of recent investment in interdisciplinary research by NSF and other organizations warrants more formal knowledge sharing of best practices in this area. The goal of this tutorial is to provide a more formal venue for sharing and capturing knowledge gained through recent efforts. Those who participate will be provided with lessons learned, tips, and techniques to "jump start" their efforts toward interdisciplinary research. The tutorial will include a mixture of presentations, exercises, and discussion. The cultural and logistical problems of conducting interdisciplinary research are exacerbated when projects extend beyond academia to government; some time will be devoted at the end of the tutorial to discussion of how the methods presented can be used in interdisciplinary, digital government projects.
Hour 1 - Envisioning an ideal interdisciplinary, multi-institutional research team -
moving from idea to outcomes.
Management, policy, and technology barriers and enablers
Hour 2 - Critical success factors for carrying out interdisciplinary, multi-institutional research
Two short current practices presentations
Hour 3 - Touch points - why, when, and how teams need to get together?
Tools and techniques for making the implicit, explicit
Methods, data requirements, and outcome measurements of different research disciplines represented on your team
research style and preferences of individual researchers on your team
Theresa Pardo is Deputy Director of the Center for Technology in Government at the University at Albany, SUNY. She is also on the faculty of the Rockefeller College of Public Affairs and Policy and the Information Science doctoral program. Her research interests include information technology innovation in the public sector, electronic records management, government information strategy and management, and information integration.
Judy Cushing has led the undergraduate software engineering program at The Evergreen State College in Olympia, Washington since 1983, when she came to academia after 11 years developing software professionally. Her primary research interest is information technology for practicing scientists, with a focus on ecology, and (more recently) how research data, and prediction and decision support models, can be used to improve resource management and ecology policy.
Theresa A. Pardo
Center for Technology in Government
University at Albany/SUNY
187 Wolf Road, Suite 301
Albany, New York 12203