Wall Street Journal

Today I was quoted in the Wall Street Journal in an article on scientific collaborations by Robert Lee Hotz. The talented Lauren Goode also did a short video accompanying the online edition, in which I talk a little bit more about the advantages and problems of collaboration. Here's an excerpt of the piece:

Once a mostly solitary endeavor, science in the 21st century has become a team sport. Research collaborations are larger, more common, more widely cited and more influential than ever, management studies show. Measured by the number of authors on a published paper, research teams have grown steadily in size and number every year since World War II.

To gauge the rise of team science, management experts at Northwestern University recently analyzed 2.1 million U.S. patents filed since 1975 and all of the 19.9 million research papers archived in the Institute for Scientific Information database. "We looked at the recorded universe of all published papers across all fields, and we found that all fields were moving heavily toward teamwork," says Northwestern business sociologist Brian Uzzi.

As research projects grow more complicated, management becomes a variable in every experiment. "You can't do it alone," says research management analyst Maria Binz-Scharf at City College of New York. "The question is how you put it all together."

The key is bringing the people together in the first place, which has sped technological advancements that often benefited the rest of us. The ease of global business and social networking today owes much to the World Wide Web, which was designed to aid information-sharing between scientists. It was invented at the European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN), the home of the Large Hadron Collider.

New online science management experiments are underway. Last year, the National Science Foundation started a $50 million project to map all plant biology research, from the level of molecules to organisms to entire ecosystems, so scientists can swoop through shared data as if they were using Google Earth. Last month, U.S. computer experts launched a $12 million federal project to create a national biomedical network called VIVOweb to encourage collaborations.

Scientists are experimenting with the new technology of teamwork even in mathematics, where researchers customarily work alone.


This is such an exciting area of research. Together with Leslie Paik and Avrom Caplan, I will be devoting a good part of the next three years to study how scientists collaborate. This work is supported by the NSF (see here for the project abstract and here for the CCNY press release).


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by marbisch
11/20/09. 11:43:01 pm. 417 words, 584360 views. Categories: News, Research , Leave a comment »Send a trackback »

Delete – The Virtue of Forgetting in the Digital Age

(Crossposted at Complexity and Social Networks Blog)

I knew I was in for a treat when I sat down to listen to Viktor Mayer-Schoenberger at NYU's Law School yesterday afternoon. Viktor discussed his new book, Delete - The Virtue of Forgetting in the Digital Age, and kicked off a book tour that will take him to several US locations (I've listed upcoming talks below). Although he had arrived from Singapore only hours prior to giving his talk, he engaged the audience with his clever presentation, leaving us wanting more even after 45 minutes of Q&A.

Mayer-Schoenberger beautifully illustrates our society's transition from "biological forgetting to digital remembering". While for generations our efforts have concentrated on trying to remember events, actions, etc. and preserve them for posterity, in today's world we are facing the opposite problem: The digital memory is here to stay. However, the book argues, forgetting has its virtues, and needs to be reintroduced. The solution is simple: Put an expiration date on information.

The book is a great read (as soon as I got it, my non-academic spouse snagged it and took it on a business trip, which usually doesn't happen with the books I order), and I am not even close to doing it justice with this description, so if you find yourselves near any of the locations of the book tour, make sure to stop by and join the discussion.

Future stops (from here):
• Harvard's Berkman Center on October 7 at 6 pm
• Princeton University's Center for Information Technology Policy on October 8 at 4.30 pm
• Town Hall Seattle on October 19 at 7.30 pm
• University of California Berkeley Law School on October 22 at 4 pm


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by marbisch
10/07/09. 02:58:43 pm. 274 words, 137268 views. Categories: News , Leave a comment »Send a trackback »

End of semester

I have been very silent this semester, at least on this blog. Attribute this partly to the headaches of creating and managing my first service-learning course, doing quite a bit of traveling, and starting some new projects, accompanied by hopping from one sublet to another while renovating our new apartment. Another reason was one I regaled myself with: a colleague and friend in the English Department at CCNY, the writer Salar Abdoh, was gracious enough to let me audit his Creative Writing course, and so I found myself engaged in quite a bit of very pleasant, and indeed creative, writing over the course of the semester. I had forgotten how much discipline and work it takes to successfully complete a course...but it was a fantastic experience all around, and I highly recommend it.

What else is new...I've just made it back from Paris, where I presented a paper with Emmanuelle Vaast at ICIS 2008, entitled "Bringing Change in Government Organizations: Evolution Towards Post-Bureaucracy with Web-Based IT Projects". The conference proceedings are now online, and you can find our paper here. We used an evolutionary perspective to explain how government organizations move toward a post-bureaucratic form of organization. Below is the abstract:

This paper examines the following question: How do government organizations become more "post-bureaucratic" with web-based IT projects? It draws on evolutionary thinking to conceptualize processes of change in government organizations as involving sequences
of variation, selection, and retention as well as to identify various sources of change: internal ones (e.g. administrators), as well as external ones (e.g. technological innovations and institutional pressures). The paper relates findings from four in-depth qualitative case studies of web-based IT projects in different government organizations. The interpretation of these findings helps expand the evolutionary conceptualization by suggesting how different sources of change interact in the change process and variously
affect different stages of the evolution.


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by marbisch
12/22/08. 08:12:35 pm. 314 words, 118239 views. Categories: Research, Academic life , Leave a comment »Send a trackback »

2008 Komen NYC Race for the Cure - I need your support!

I recently accepted the challenge to raise funds to fight breast cancer as part of the 2008 Komen NYC Race for the Cure® on Sunday, September 14, 2008. One in eight women will be diagnosed with breast cancer in her lifetime and the more we raise, the more the Greater New York City Affiliate of Susan G. Komen for the Cure can give to fund vital breast cancer education, screening and treatment programs in our own community and support national peer-reviewed research programs to find the cures.

Please join me in the fight by pledging in support of my participation in the Race or contributing generously to Komen Greater NYC. Your tax-deductible contribution will fund innovative outreach and awareness programs for medically underserved communities in greater New York City, in addition to national breast cancer research. You can make a donation online by simply clicking on the link at the bottom of this message. If you would prefer, you can also send your contribution to the address listed below.

Komen Greater NYC Race for the Cure
P.O. Box 9223, GPO
New York, NY 10087-9223

Whatever you can give will help! I truly appreciate your support and will keep you posted on my progress.

Thank you so much for your time and support in the fight against breast cancer! Every step counts!

Click here to visit my personal page:
http://www.komennyc.org/site/TR/Race/race2008-wide?px=1597643&pg=personal&fr_id=1150&et=4YOJa_poq0wLzTEdWfhKyQ..&s_tafId=30142

Click here to view the team page for Record Busters:
http://www.komennyc.org/site/TR/Race/race2008-wide?team_id=23650&pg=team&fr_id=1150&et=WVDA66Ok33IE1BaW8al7wA..&s_tafId=30142


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by marbisch
08/18/08. 04:53:59 pm. 286 words, 123610 views. Categories: News , Leave a comment »Send a trackback »

The Onion's take on recently published research study

In case you missed this, here it is:

"Study: Not Being An Asshole Boss May Boost Employee Morale

July 30, 2008 | Issue 44•31

WAUKEGAN, IL—In what is being called a breakthrough discovery in worker-administrator relations, a study released Monday in the Journal Of Occupational Science found that not being a total asshole supervisor may be linked to improved worker spirit. "In nearly every trial, we found staff morale runs considerably higher when bosses don't read workers' e-mail over their shoulders, complain about their superior salaries, or act in any way like giant, self- centered assholes," said Erica Gorochow, one of the study's researchers. "Similarly, we found that typical dick manager phrases like 'I don't disagree' can weaken worker disposition by as much as 63 percent." Although the study's findings have already sent shock waves through the business community, Gorochow warned that some of the results may have been compromised, as the bitch lead researcher was breathing down her neck the whole time."


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by marbisch
07/31/08. 04:44:05 pm. 159 words, 279688 views. Categories: Research, Seen and heard , Leave a comment »Send a trackback »

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