The Science of Team Science Conference

with James Cumming, Chaos Management, Ltd

***Ethnographic, participant-observation data was recorded, and

the conversation continues on Twitter at #teamsci10***

21-24 April 2010
The Science of Team Science Conference
Northwestern University: Clinical and Translational Sciences Unit
Chicago, IL

Poster Session Proposal
Despite decades of leadership from the health sciences, progress in resolving barriers to interdisciplinary research appears static. One reason stems from the failure to engage knowledge developed from a social perspective (Fiore, 2008). We aim to bring the social to team science by imagining all of the participants, presenters, organizers, and sponsors of this conference as “a team” – as a group of scientists engaged in a common task: to understand and improve the practice of team science. By imposing the model of team science on the group, we create boundary conditions for analysis of the conference discourse and dynamics about team science. This maneuver invites all those in the conference who wish to do so to engage with us in an active and collaborative process of learning. We will challenge these self-selected conference participants to identify the substance of social intelligence required in the applied practice of team science through voluntary monitoring, self-evaluation and self-reflection, Paying dual attention to the processes of 1) talking about team science and 2) doing team science will generate a snapshot of the current state of the field, provide insight into the norm-governed behaviors, attitudes, and cognitions that promote or inhibit productive team science, and highlight the specific skills, strategies, and synergies of effective leaders and team players.

We propose to conduct a running (“live”) discourse analysis of participants’ interactions during the Science of Team Science Conference, in order to explore relationships between a) the structures and processes of generating knowledge about working in teams with b) the content of knowledge shared during the conference. An “ad” in the conference program would alert participants to the study and initiate a consent/dissent procedure for human subjects research. Steph and James will observe the discourse and dynamics beginning at the Wednesday evening reception through the Saturday workshop, collect additional discursive and dynamic data from volunteers, and reflect impressions back to participants via a weblog dedicated to the conference and/or at Our poster will contain information about the theories we use and our data collection tools. In addition, we will pose a hypothesis derived from our observations of the conference about the relationship of the social to science in order to help us engage in dialogue with participants.

Summaries, discussions and questions raised by observations and feedback will be posted daily through a weblog (possibly stimulating on-going conversation and remaining as a permanent resource). We hope to identify potential partners for future research in Team Science and to contribute conceptual material of substantive value to the field. An article will be written for publication in the conference proceedings (or some other outlet if no proceedings are planned). This article may include suggestions regarding how the conference structure facilitates or counteracts the interdisciplinary development of team science.

We will need to have some coordination with the Program Committee regarding informed consent procedures and possibilities for survey-type data collection. It will be ideal if conference organizers are open to announcing and promoting participation in the study.

REFERENCE: Fiore, Stephen M. 2008. Interdisciplinarity as Teamwork: How the Science of Teams can Inform Team Science. Small Group Research. Vol. 39. pp. 251-277. Sage.

Download the (large) poster PDF here.

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