Collaboration has long been recognized as essential to the advancement of scientific knowledge. While the nature of co-production of knowledge in collaborative settings has been studied for some time, little is known about how the process works in collaborations established and maintained through virtual organizations.
An interdisciplinary team of researchers at The City College of New York (CCNY) is studying how virtual organizations, where people work in different locations, sometime halfway around the world, change and affect the production of scientific knowledge. They are supported by a new grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF) of $368,210 over three years. The investigators hope to identify the conditions under which virtual organizations can enable and enhance scientific production and innovation.
"It used to be that collaboration took place mainly within one laboratory, but now you can collaborate with people you don't even know, said Dr. Maria Binz-Scharf, Assistant Professor of Management in the Economics Department at CCNY and Principal Investigator of the project. "The question is: How does greater access to shared data, new collaborators and information across time and space help improve the production of scientific knowledge, if at all?"
The CCNY team includes, in addition to Professor Binz-Scharf, Dr. Leslie Paik, Assistant Professor of Sociology and the project's co-Principal Investigator, and Dr. Avrom Caplan, Professor of Biology and Associate University Dean for Research. They will focus their research on biologists, Dean Caplan among them, who study molecular chaperones, which are proteins that are part of a process called cellular quality control that promotes destruction of damaged proteins.
"It's a fairly well-defined area with around active 300 researchers worldwide, so it is an ideal network to study," Professor Binz-Scharf explained.
The investigation is being conducted in
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City College of New York