Choose Your Own Adventure Session: Collaborations Across Cultures, Communities, and Different Team Settings

Wednesday, August 3, 2022
3:00 PM - 4:00 PM ET

Making Virtual Conferences More Effective for Interpersonal Exchange, Networking, and Team Building

Ariane Wenger

Abstract: The pandemic has led to many changes in the daily work of researchers. Travel restrictions and social distance regulations challenged team-based science, because while few meetings previously had been held virtually, virtual communication became a normal practice during the pandemic. Not only teamwork but even local team formation had to be done virtually (e.g. members from the same university). New virtual teamwork tools, new ways of working and communication habits emerged.Due to the emergency of the pandemic, there was no time to adapt best practices slowly. Researchers had to switch fast, thus involuntarily gaining a lot of experience with virtual communication. On the positive side, by reducing travel barriers (e.g. cost, time), virtual communication led to increased accessibility and mitigated inequality, providing opportunities for more inclusive and diverse collaboration. At the same time, researchers' carbon footprint decreased, enabling more sustainable research practices. Nevertheless, virtual communication also came with its downsides, as interpersonal exchange and networking opportunities seem to be virtually absent/ineffective. It was particularly challenging to meet new researchers to build and maintain international research collaborations and teams. Pre-pandemic, conferences were important venues for researchers to network, develop collaborative research ideas, and form international collaborations. During the pandemic, virtual conferences made it difficult to build and strengthen trust between team members, establish lasting relationships, and thus improve group identity.This study uses conferences to analyze why current virtual formats and tools are perceived as ineffective for interpersonal exchange and networking. I will conduct 15-20 semi-structured interviews with virtual international conference organizers and participants from different career stages and scientific fields. Data collection is starting now so that I can present preliminary findings during the conference. I expect participants to mention what characteristics of current virtual formats and tools impede effective virtual interpersonal exchange and networking, and thus successful collaborative research (e.g. lack of eye contact, gestures, body language, sense of shared space, spontaneous interactions, and chances to mingle freely in a room).Results will identify effective virtual networking strategies and communication tools that help researchers find collaborators and improve team collaboration. I aim to show diverse strategies for how interpersonal exchange and networking can be effectively conducted virtually. The study will contribute to the SciTS by providing insights into how trust can be built and maintained virtually, and how to improve virtual team cognition through effective virtual idea generation and team interactions. Thus, the potential of virtual collaborative research, characterized by greater inclusivity and diversity, can be strengthened.

Advancing Science of Team Science by Examining Collaboration in a Multinational Virtual Research Laboratory

Emily Norman

Abstract: Collaboration is an essential process in any organization. With the global increase in virtual team collaboration, science of team science scholars should consider the ways groups in virtual research laboratories (VRLs) collaborate. Virtual research laboratories allow scientists to share computing resources, data, and modern scientific methods with groups across states, countries, and continents. JLESC (Joint Laboratory for Extreme Scale Computing) is a VRL home to seven different research institutions, with a common goal of advancing high-performance computing. Various levels of researchers collaborate with Ph.D. students, postdoctoral researchers, and temporary researchers. Group variety creates opportunities for symbiotic relationships between scientists and less experienced members (Haines, 2003). This study investigates JLESC project teams between 2015 and 2019, identifying major patterns in group collaboration by analyzing scientific research reports using quantitative content analysis. Aside from collaboration, mentorship also becomes relevant as many students progress through the years, some advancing to become full computer scientists. Across groups, these scientists produce publications, software, code, grants, and other products. Thus, a question arises regarding the relationship between group makeup and productivity within scientific collaboration. We identified 51 JLESC project teams between 2015 and 2019. Groups were active from one to five years. The largest group had 16 members and the smallest two members. Affiliations of group members range from five to two institutes. Besides permanent members, 19 groups had graduate students, 15 had postdocs, and six had student and postdoc members. In six groups, students advanced to postdoc, and in 12 groups postdocs advanced to permanent members. The most successful group had 22 productions during its lifespan. Eleven groups with lifespans from one to three years had no productions. This analysis provides a case to examine collaboration and mentorship within a multinational VRL. With the goal of advancing scientific literature on high-performance computing collaborations and the science of team science, this study contributes to the body of research on STEM collaborations and supercomputing virtual research laboratories. For JLESC to continue providing pathways to successful careers for growing computer scientists, employing social science methods to understand the functionality of groups is important. Other VRLs can also model organizational collaboration and mentorship after the findings of this study.

Barker, M.,Olabarriaga, S.D., Wilkins-Diehr, N.,Gesing, S., Katz, D. S.,Shahand, S., ... & Costa, A. (2019). The global impact of science gateways, virtual research environments and virtual laboratories. Future Generation Computer Systems,95, 240-248. Haines, S. T. (2003). The mentor-protege relationship. American Journal of Pharmaceutical Education,67(1),458-464.

Finding Common Ground off Campus

Katherine O'Brien

Abstract: Problem: We are interested in how grassroots multi-disciplinary groups can foster collaborations. The STEAM Factory is a diverse and inclusive grassroots network of scholars at The Ohio State University that fosters unstructured interdisciplinary collaboration in research, outreach, and education. Over the past 7 years, the STEAM Factory has organically grown into the most diverse academic network in the University, embracing 200+ members in 66 departments across 13 colleges. The STEAM Factory has a physical location off-campus. This space can provide a place where academic and non-academic work merges and that empowers scholars to step outside of their disciplinary work. The STEAM Factory was envisioned to be a space where faculty from different disciplines could engage in interdisciplinary research and find community at a large R1 school. Our study analyzes its growth using self-reported data. We demonstrate that space plays a role in supporting interdisciplinary collaborations. Method:  Data were collected via a survey available to every member of the STEAM Factory. The survey was administered in January of 2018 and 2020 corresponding to member activity from the prior year including activities, job support, and collaborations. From this data, we conducted analysis to understand network dynamics and activities that fostered connections. To supplement these findings, we designed an interview that asked faculty to reflect on their involvement in the network and how they used the STEAM Factory space. Interview subjects were chosen at random from the group of highly connected members, members with a few connections, and members who filled out the 2019 survey but were absent from the network. We use fuzzy set qualitative comparative analysis (fsQCA) to understand the relationship between interview themes and level of involvement with the STEAM network. Findings:Overall membership within the STEAM Factory increased from 2017 to 2019 and resulted in a more connected network. Members collaborated across diverse disciplines, with up to nine of eleven disciplinary categories appearing in a community at any given time. Additionally, individual nodes appear to be most active within 2-3 years of joining the network. Using the STEAM factory spaces was a predictor of inclusion in the high connection group. We find that the theme of equity and neutrality was repeated by members who see STEAM as a third space that engages the Columbus community in research outside of official institutional settings. In addition, having a diverse set of outcomes or products when conceptualizing a collaboration was associated with members who had more collaborations. Our findings lend support to the idea that third space is an important component to facilitate interdisciplinary work that gives faculty the flexibility to engage with broadly conceived communities.

Multiple Team Membership: Managing Competing Demands for Member Time and Attention

Madison Romero

Abstract: In our work with multidisciplinary science teams as part of the GW/Children's Clinical Translational Science Institute (CTSI), a major concern of principal investigators (PI) is that team members often work on projects simultaneously; therefore, it is often challenging to devote the necessary time and effort to any one PI's project. Thus, we sought to understand the (1) challenges PIs face in managing projects with members with competing obligations, and (2) strategies they have found useful in overcoming them. Our research team conducted virtual and in-person focus groups with CTSI teams. After transcribing and coding the data, results confirmed that a dominant obstacle to project completion is the ability for team members to dedicate the necessary time and energy to a project throughout its lifecycle. As one PI noted, "oftentimes people are very busy‚Ķ [They are] not opposed to participating, but just don't have the bandwidth to dedicate to participation." To understand strategies PIs used to address this obstacle, we drew on emerging research related to multiple team membership (MTM). Margolis (2020) proposed using an attention framework by Good et al., (2016) for understanding effective multiteam membership in terms of the quality of the attention a member devotes to a team. We applied this framework to code the leadership strategies/best practices suggested in our focus groups for managing team member time and attentional resources along three-dimensions: attentional control, attentional stability, and attentional efficiency. Attentional control refers to directing a member's attention to the focal team amidst competing demands. Attentional stability involves sustaining attention on the focal team. Attentional efficiency is the efficient use of members' cognitive attentional resources. Our findings suggest that leaders play a crucial role in shaping the control, stability, and efficiency of team members' attention under competing demands. For example, one attentional control strategy is to focus members' attention on the team early on by agreeing on clear expectations and norms for participation. An attentional stability strategy is sustaining focus on the team through different types of informal communications that keep team members connected.  Finally, an example of attentional efficiency is using team members' time economically by implementing a core vs. extended team structure allowing certain members to participate only as needed. Our full presentation will provide more details and strategies. Our work advances team science research through a novel application of MTM and attention literature. We also highlight the critical role of leaders in helping members manage their multiteam memberships. As research teams continue to tackle complex problems, with members drawn in many different directions by their membership in multiple teams, our research provides a potential route for more productive, enjoyable, and effective teamwork.

Exploring Entanglements between Team Competencies and Team Failures

Kennan Salinero

Abstract: In conjunction with the Education and Training Special Interest Group (SIG) in the International Network for Science of Team Science (INSciTS), led by Liz Ryder and Wayne McCormick, the proposers of this Lightning Talk formed a sub-group to dig more deeply into the role of competencies for productive teams. In reviewing the growing literature on skills for collaboration in the sciences, we were struck by the range and variety of lenses on competencies. Different groups noted individual characteristics, predispositions, capabilities, habits of mind, and '21st Century Skills', as well as the distinction between individual vs team competencies. Reviews also illuminated the role of nested systems (e.g., individual, team and learning systems) and productive pedagogies (for instance, epistemic living systems, service learning, and portfolios, to name a few).  However, during SIG meetings, discussants were struck by factors related not only to success but also to failure. The question at the heart of this Talk then arose. We asked ourselves whether failure is due to insufficient competence in pertinent capabilities (e.g., communication, reflectivity, competencies of fruition); or whether it might be due to structural elements including psychological safety, behavioral dynamics, and the affective domain? In our Lightning Talk we will review differing epistemologies of competencies and share lessons from failure that encourage a broader understanding of competencies.  Dena Fam and Michael O'Rourke's book of case studies on Interdisciplinary and Transdisciplinary Failures as Lessons Learned informed our initial thinking, along with our mindmap of the various lenses on competencies. We will discuss lessons from failure that acknowledge institutional dimensions, but will focus specifically on the role that emotion and trust play in processes of integration and collaboration. In doing so, we also treat difference as a resource, not an obstacle to overcome or avoid. We will center candor as crucial to moving away from a mentality of limits, the dangers of conformity and the tyranny of a priori norms that block creative thriving. We end by framing the overarching questions we hope will engage further discussion in the SciTS community.  To support engagement with our talk, we will share additional resources including a mind map of the various lenses on competencies and the references that have shaped our thinking. Finally, in order to learn from others, we invite creation of a companion "Choose Your Own Adventure" (CYOA). We envision guided inquiry regarding views on failure, including personal experiences.  This can lead into exploration of competencies that are unique vs those that transfer across various contexts including disciplines, interdisciplinary fields, transdisciplinary programs, occupational professions, and sectors in the academy, government and the military, as well as industry and civil society.

Librarians/Informationists as Transdisciplinary Team Members

Karen Liston

Abstract: Librarians (sometimes called Informationists, or information Scientists) are uniquely equipped and positioned to support and facilitate many aspects of transdisciplinary research teams' work.  Although most frequently included on teams conducting systematic reviews, Librarians are prepared to uniquely contribute at critical points in many research teams' work.  Librarians' backgrounds and training seldom match the disciplinary knowledge of other team members, but frequently span boundaries between the expertise that other team members uniquely contribute to collaborations.  Most subject specialist Librarians possess terminal masters degrees that use various components of social science techniques used in the study of library users and related phenomenon.  In recent years, these methods have expanded to include techniques such as digital humanities for analyzing texts and corpuses, and big data analytics for studying social media and impact measures.Reviews of the literature have been conducted to identify the many concrete ways that Librarians traditionally contribute to collaborative research endeavors.  The expanded approach of this study captures the additional roles, approaches, activities, and techniques that Librarians could offer as integral members of research teams. Topics explored include: Librarians' cross-disciplinary knowledge can help them lay bare the jargon and implicit knowledge that can arise as barriers to communication among disciplinary experts. Librarians are expert searchers, devising unique queries based on their knowledge of information structures and search methodologies. Librarians constantly ask questions to clarify researchers' needs. Their familiar positionality as non-expert members of the academic community make them safe, trusted and  strategic partners in clearly asking questions, and eliciting and synthesizing answers in terms that are understandable to the layman. Librarians frequently span academic, public, and inter-institutional spheres, and can  surface queries and concepts that are strategic when they intersect these sometimes  disparate worlds. Because of their historic service role, Librarians are overlooked as ongoing collaborative research partners, designers, and disseminators. Exploiting and expanding Librarians' existing roles could benefit research collaborations.  By better understanding existing and potentially expanded roles, Librarians' skills and approaches could be identified for further development in Librarians' formal and organizational training to benefit transdisciplinary team science research endeavors.

Team Formation and Team Performance: The Balance Between Team Freshness and Repeat Collaboration

Meijun Liu

Abstract: Incorporating fresh members in teams is considered a pathway to team creativity. However, whether freshness improves team performance or not remains unclear, as well as the optimal involvement of fresh members for team performance. This study uses a group of authors on the byline of a publication as a proxy for a scientific team. We extend an indicator, i.e., team freshness, to measure the extent to which a scientific team incorporates new members, by calculating the fraction of new collaboration relations established within the team. Based on more than 43 million scientific publications covering more than a half-century of research from Microsoft Academic Graph, this study provides a holistic picture of the current development of team freshness by outlining the temporal evolution of freshness, and its disciplinary distribution. Subsequently, using a multivariable regression approach, we examine the association between team freshness and papers' short-term and long-term citations. The major findings are as follows: (1) team freshness in scientific teams has been increasing in the past half-century; (2) there exists an inverted-U-shaped association between team freshness and papers' citations in all the disciplines and in different periods; (3) the inverted-U-shaped relationship between team freshness and papers' citations is only found in small teams, while, in large teams, team freshness is significantly positively related to papers' citations.

Psychological Safety vs. Team Climate: Two different and Complementary Frameworks to Study Teamwork

Lina Aragón

Abstract: Psychological safety and team climate are two frameworks commonly used to describe the strength of a team’s working environment. Team psychological safety is defined as the shared belief that a team environment is safe for interpersonal risk taking, with members feeling there will not be negative consequences on their self-image, status, or career as a result of taking risks. Team climate, on the other hand, is defined as the shared perceptions of politics, procedures, norms, attitudes, and expectations in a team environment. These two definitions, while similar, are not the same. As a result of this apparent similarity psychological safety and team climate are often incorrectly applied, for example mashing both terms together referring to “team psychological safety climate”.

Both psychological safety and team climate have been primarily understood in the fields of organizational behavior, applied psychology, and administrative science. However, they remain independent from one another, and no attempt has been made to reconcile the two frameworks. Considering the lack of formal integration of these concepts in the literature, our goal is to begin comparing psychological safety and team climate so that they are easy and clear to distinguish from one another.

Our intention is to provide a side-by-side comparison of the larger themes and approaches from team climate and psychological safety to highlight differences that we believe warrant further investigation and start the conversation around future integration of the two ideas. We hope that this work will help both people just learning about team climate and psychological safety, and people who are already familiar with these ideas better distinguish between the two concepts.

By separating the questions from the Team Climate Inventory into psychological safety’s team behaviors and norms, we see that aspects of psychological safety are integrated into each of the facets of Team Climate. From the outside, participative safety, defined as group settings where the interpersonal atmosphere is one of non-threatening trust and support (Anderson & West 1998), appears to be nearly identical to that of psychological safety. However, only 4 of the 8 questions identified as representing the participative safety facet of team climate are reflective of the shared team beliefs or team behaviors core to the concept of psychological safety.

Psychological safety and team climate superficially appear to be quite similar. Both frameworks are used by organizations and researchers to describe the strength of a team environment, however, team climate focuses on how your team is working and how does your team work, while psychological safety focuses on how the team members feel. Both highlight the importance that interpersonal relationships have on the team’s working environment. In both psychological safety and team climate how team members understand each other and understand their team environment is clearly important, however when we begin to describe the context and organization of this understanding is when apparent differences are identified.