Thursday, April 19, 2012

The Science of Team Science, Chicago

This week, Chicago is hosting the third annual International Science of Team Science (SciTS) conference—a point of convergence for 430 multinational, multidisciplinary professionals who foster, facilitate, and/or fund large-scale interdisciplinary research collaborations.

Conference Chair Holly Falk-Krzesinski (Northwestern University Clinical and Translational Sciences Institute) described how SciTS was conceived. “There were a lot of people who said they knew how to form effective research collaborations, but nobody was applying evidence-based scientific principles to the process,” she said. The benefits of interdisciplinary influence on research collaborations are irrefutable. Careful consideration of team diversity has become the norm and an expectation of funding agencies.

Presenter Zach Hyat (University of Toronto) explained The Structure and Evolution of Research Networks. Before the marriage of computation and science, traditional collaborations were among researchers from the same field who most likely met at professional conferences. Co-investigators shared personal relationships that developed by working together in the same physical space. Over the past 30 years, however, technology innovation has progressively changed the way research is conducted, and it continues to evolve. Results that took months or a career to accomplish are now achieved in a matter of minutes. Data-driven collaborations are formed among Individuals from institutions around the world. Co-authors and investigators may meet in-person infrequently, if at all, yet they get to know each other through the social network.

It isn’t surprising that much of the SciTS conference content deals with biomedical data-intensive research. Effective team-building methodologies and strategies to leverage social media to engage and disseminate research findings are shared. Because the attendees of SciTS are diverse practitioners from a range of disciplines, break-out conversations are invigorating. The conference provides a wealth of human and material resources for those who build research teams or are engaged with interdisciplinary initiatives.

SciTS concludes tomorrow with a hands-on workshop entitled Linked Open Data (LOD) & Team Science. The workshop will explore the applicability and utility of LOD to Team Science. Basic LOD principles will be covered, and attendees will learn how to begin serving, consuming, and integrating data with RDF, SPARQL, and Drupal.

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