Lagoze to study barriers to scientific collaboration at U-M

Carl Lagoze

Collaboration among scientists from diverse disciplines can drive research projects by providing context for new ways of thinking and doing things. These collaborations can also pose challenges as scientists form unrelated research cultures will sometimes follow different procedures for evaluation, publication, privacy, sharing, and other field-specific characteristics. 

UMSI Associate Professor of Information Carl Lagoze’s project “Science of Data Science” will seek to help the University of Michigan build the supporting infrastructure necessary to overcome barriers to collaboration and realize the potential benefits of interdisciplinary collaborations.

The project is supported by a $125,000 grant awarded on June 3 by the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, and an additional $440,000 award given by the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation in March 2014.

The project will follow a four-step process to grow institutional capacity for data science initiatives at U-M. The research team will work jointly with three university programs already oriented toward data science and committed to building greater capacity in that area. 

The first step will initiate four seed projects within U-M’s MCubed program, which brings together three to four researchers from different disciplines at the university to collaborate on innovative data-intensive research. The second step will embed information science researchers into each of these projects to observe the barriers to collaboration and cultivate tools and techniques to overcome these barriers. 

Following the initial steps, the third phase will feature a series of workshops conducted over the course of the MCubed projects to bring together the researchers and other university-level data science initiatives to review observations and devise approaches to sidestep obstructions. 

The final step will translate the project’s findings into university-level capacity and data science support structures at U-M. This fourth phase will also include a university-wide symposium on data science to disseminate findings following the completion of the MCubed projects. 

In addition to examining the research projects within the MCubed program, Lagoze and his team will work with the U-M Library and Advanced Research Computing, a program within the Office of the Vice President of Research that provides and supports the use of leading-edge cyberinfrastructure at U-M. 

By focusing on the configurations of data science teams, their projects, challenges, and support needs, this project’s findings could translate to other universities and be relevant in other institutional research settings.

Posted on June 5, 2014