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Science of Collaboratories

Workshops : Overview


Collaboratory projects to date vary enormously in how much and what kinds of data were collected about the technical development process, the actual experiences of users, and the ultimate success of the collaboratory in accelerating scientific progress. Data about both technical and social aspects of performance are necessary in order to develop broad principles. On the development front, many initial projects developed custom software, but others are now using commercial applications. Welcome to the Science of Collaboratories WorkshopOn the behavioral front, in our collaboratory projects we have made extensive longitudinal observations of the behavior of our participants both prior to the deployment of collaboratory technology as well as after the deployment of a succession of new tools. In some cases (e.g., SPARC/UARC), these observations span a number of years. The published literature on collaboratories provides a scattered and incomplete record of what actually happened in other projects. We expect that in many cases others who have carried out collaboratory projects have much richer insights into what happened than is available in the published literature. In order to collect this rich data, we need a framework for asking the right questions about usage, and a venue in which to collect and codify the findings.

The best way to extract broader insights from both our own data as well as the experiences of others is to hold a series of focused workshops that ask a systematic set of questions across all of these projects. The initial series of workshops will focus on analyzing the experience of collaboratory developers and formulating a broad framework for gathering the results together. We will conduct structured interviews with those involved in different collaboratories, using a preliminary framework that includes issues at several levels:

Larry Rihan addressing the Technical Underpinnings of Collaboratories Workshop

  • the underlying network and distributed computing infrastructure,
  • the applications developed and used,
  • the modules of software functionality that turned out to be the most useful,
  • the usage and satisfaction data from users,
  • and the social and organizational issues that arose.

We expect that initial discussions may lead individual investigators to return to their data for further analyses that they report in later workshops. We would also expect the workshops to lead to the identification of other kinds of projects that need to be done to further refine the framework.

Our workshops to date:
Social Underpinnings (June 4-5 2001)
Technical Underpinnings (July 19-20 2001)
Comparative Investigations (September 25-27 2002)
SKESE (November 25-26 2002)
Comparative Investigations, Part Two (June 18-20 2003)



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