Tools for Team Science and the Science of Team Science

11 Best Practices for Successful Team Science: A Series of Motivational Videos

Ms. Nicole Exe, University of Michigan- MICHR; Ms. Laura Denton, University of Michigan- Faculty Development ; Ms. Meg Fairchild, University of Michigan- MICHR; Mr. Jordan Hahn, University of Michigan- MICHR; Dr. Vicki Ellingrod, University of Michigan- MICHR

As Team Science is an ever growing emergent field, one of the key issues that must be addressed is how to engage researchers to learn about team science and the skills needed to successfully participate in or lead a multi-disciplinary team. At last year’s Science of Team Science conference, we heard from many other institutions that they were providing team science training but were having difficulty motivating people to attend. Based on the Top 10 Take Aways from the Collaboration and Team Science: A Field Guide (1), we are creating short motivational videos to encourage researchers to learn more about various topics related to team science and seek out further training to do it well.  The ten topics include:  trust, vision, self-awareness and emotional intelligence, leadership, mentoring, team evolution and dynamics, communication, recognition and sharing success, conflict and disagreement, and navigating and leverage networks and systems. 

Another motivating factor to develop these videos was the University of Michigan’s diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) initiative that was rolled out in fall 2016.  It involved the creation of a five-year DEI strategic plan for all campuses and we felt that this initiative would dovetail nicely with our Team Science video project since we know from the research that diverse teams are more productive and innovative.  Thus, we added an eleventh topic of “diversity” to the original Top 10 Take Aways. These eleven videos will be paired with resources such as other readings, webinars, and tools that the viewers can further explore. While video creation is ongoing, we do have a sample of completed videos that can be demonstrated during the session.

Video creation consisted of identifying underlying sub-themes for each overarching topic. These were then translated into interview questions for a mix of experts and team science practitioners.  The interviewees are comprised of both faculty and staff from the University of Michigan as well as other thought leaders in these respective domains. Some of the interviewees touched on several of the key topics while being interviewed, thus we were able to use clips in a number of the videos which help tie them together for a cohesive series.  The interviewees were informed of the motivational nature of the videos as opposed to more in-depth educational videos that already exist.  The plan was to have each video be no more than three to four minutes in length.  Each interview is expertly edited with live on-screen content for emphasis of the key sub-themes.  The videos and accompanying resources will be available on a website for both internal and external research community members to access.

Reference: National Cancer Institute. “Collaboration and Team Science: A Field Guide”. May 18, 2018.

SciTS Presentation: 11 Best Practices for Successful Team Science: A series of motivational videos


Infrastructuring a Federated Research Network Node

Dr. Marcelline Harris, University of Michigan; Lisa Ferguson, University of Michigan; Airong Luo, University of Michigan

Introduction The contemporary research environment is dynamic, and challenged to support what is broadly described as data-intensive science.  The need for new models of collaboration and infrastructure is recognized; federated research networks (FRNs) are one such model, intended to address research ‘at scale’. FRNs are collaborations among independent partners who, through coordination at overarching network levels, bring together resources and services to enable more efficient research.  In healthcare, there are speculations that all 5500+ US hospitals may be connected to FRNs in the near future (Weber). While there is emerging research literature exploring infrastructure at the FRN network level, insights into developing and sustaining infrastructure at local participating institutions (node level) is nascent despite known challenges.

Adopting infrastructuring as an analytical lens, our research questions address the general question of what infrastructuring is required within an institution to support its participation in FRNs, what are the required infrastructural components, how are the components assembled to meet research goals?

A sociotechnical perspective of infrastructure encompasses multiple dimensions including a) the technical infrastructure; b) the human infrastructure, and, c) the institutional systems and policies. The terms “infrastructuring” and “the infrastructuring of work” define “the tentative, flexible and open character of the activity of designing and developing infrastructure”.  Infrastructuring involves aligning and leveraging relationships among people, organizations, and technologies to make them productive and functional (Bietz). However investigators have observed that the work of infrastructuring is often invisible and marginalized; attention is typically directed toward technical infrastructure only (Bowker, Ribes).  

Method A participant observation was conducted at one healthcare institution; findings were validated through interviews with three other institutions in the same FRN.  Jointly, these institutions could contribute data from > 4 million patient records to network studies.  We first categorized infrastructural components and the processes to assemble components, then graphically represented the infrastructuring work using a mind mapping tool, and iteratively refined our analysis based on stakeholder feedback obtained through interviews.

Results and Discussion Infrastructuring work includes governance of the node, meeting network requirements, provisioning the local technical infrastructure, providing core services to study teams, and evaluation of node functioning. Across these five work efforts, 26 ‘sub’-efforts and 148 specific tasks were identified.  Fewer than half of discrete work efforts (43%) were directly focused on the technical infrastructure; more were devoted to coordinating and assembling resources, services and expertise within the institution and across the FRN.  All sites agreed that embedding the infrastructuring work within existing institutional systems and procedures was essential to achieve research goals and institutional commitment to sustained engagement.  It was commonly noted that FRN infrastructure could be reused to serve other research projects and other FRNs, but this requires careful planning, organization and commitments within the institution. Future work will further examine the properties of the sociotechnical infrastructures in FRNs, their sustainability and reuse, and embeddedness as an organizing structure for assessing research infrastructure maturity at academic institutions.

SciTS Presentation: Infrastructuring a Node on a Federated Research Network


It's Not All Fun and Games: Building Multiplayer Worlds to Explore, Learn and Expand.

Mr. Benjamin Green, University of Manchester; Ms. Georgina Moulton, University of Manchester; Ms. Victoria Turner, University of Manchester

A megagame is a complex system, tabletop simulation. The term megagame refers to experiences with a purely entertainment focus, many of the core ideas underlying them are common within military, political and industrial exercises more commonly named as wargames, which tend closer to training and analysis. Despite this the terms can largely be used interchangeably.

Megagames tend to have at least 20 players, usually many more and involve asymmetric player interactions (most commonly surrounding player role). A further key ingredient is the ‘controller’, a human rules moderator that is empowered to modify the game on the fly, to reward player ingenuity or invention, or to fix broken mechanics or direct the actions of players. Consequently this class of game is unusal because its rules are semi-formalised but still, from player perspectives, apprear to be consistent enough to not affect immersion.

In 2018 we designed and twice ran the megagame “EnTRUSTed” to informally observe a megagame’s ability to convey perspective, to understand better the process and considerations of megagame creation, and to informally assess their reception within groups with limited gaming experience.

The situation that EnTRUSTed was created to represent was that of the acute aspects of British NHS Hospitals. Roles included Anaesthetist, Board Member (such as CEO), Directorate Officer, Medical Consultant, Nursing Manager, and Surgical Consultant. Each role had vastly different focuses and despite the central mode of cooperation, commonly, responsibilities spanned two or more roles, leading to conflict and challenges that players needed to overcome to succeed.

We refer to the game as a simulation because it was designed to accurately render the decision space of each represented role within the hospital environment. We aimed to create conditions, such as cliques, hierarchies, policies and competing drives that elicited true to life behaviours (judged ostensibly by an observer with significant experience of working in a hospital).

While EnTRUSTed is intended to accurately depict the decision space, the operational mechanics, the actual work that players undertake, was deliberately a low granularity abstraction of actual medical practice. This was to reinforce the perspective of players as hospital managers and senior professionals.

The process of design was informed by an extensive knowledge and experience of working within a British NHS hospital and it was further supported by a leading expert in megagame creation and delivery.

Throughout, a significant concern was that of attendance. To mitigate this, we targeted a number of key barriers hoping to remove or reduce them in order to increase the likelihood of attendance. For example, we delivered the experience over an evening (set aside for teaching the various rules demonstrations) and the following day (used exclusively to run the game) to avoid the common complaint of megagames, that rules are inaccessible and often not explained. 

We consider these games to be ideal context specific platforms to test ideas or innovations, analyse systems or situations, and communicate a range of perspectives. However, it was anecdotally suggested that games of any type may only be attractive to those who play games.

SciTS Presentation: It's not all fun and games: Building multiplayer worlds to explore, learn and expand


Repertoires as Blueprints and Frameworks for the Doing of Science

Dr. Rachel Ankeny, University of Adelaide; Dr. Sabina Leonelli, University of Exeter

In this paper, we propose a general framework for analysing the emergence, development, and evolution of particular ways of doing science, which we call repertoires, in which the successful alignment of conceptual, material, logistical and institutional components (including specific skills and behaviours by participants in scientific efforts) results in a blueprint for how to effectively conduct, finance and support research in the longer term. The framework is grounded in our analysis of the specific characteristics of the system of conceptual commitments, practices, technologies, institutions, and norms used within certain case studies taken from the life sciences, although we contend that it can be fruitfully applied much more widely to other types of research. We believe that it is important for philosophers of science to be able to trace and analyse the material, social, and epistemic conditions under which individuals join together to perform projects and achieve common goals, in ways that are relatively robust over time despite the broader landscape and other features evolving and changings, as well as how these can be transferred to and learnt by other groups interested in similar goals.

We use a series of three case studies to illustrate how the repertoires framework facilitates philosophical analysis and explanation of critical questions around the functioning, flexibility, durability, coherence, and longevity of research groupings and their outputs, including the formation of research communities, thus helping to account and understand the epistemic implications and significance of different research practices, and related constellations of actors, technologies, and institutions. The framework thus functions as an overarching approach to the study of scientific change, and especially of the role that a specific type of system of practice – the repertoire – has acquired over the course of the last century, with significant implications for what kind of science is regarded as most visible, influential, and topical in any one period. This perspective has implications for various research practices including credit attribution and supports a highly distributed model of how science is done.

SciTS Presentation: Repertoires as Blueprints and Frameworks for the Doing of Science