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Temporal Dynamics Learning Center Promotes Discussions on Collaboration
How do you create successful scientific collaborations that bring together methods, tools, concepts, and data from a wide range of disciplines, and how do you know whether these collaborations have worked? When is the whole truly greater than the sum of its parts? Scientists from the NSF-funded Temporal Dynamics Learning Center addressed these questions by organizing and presenting in a symposium on scientific collaboration at the Cognitive Science Society this summer in Nashville, Tennessee. Collaborative interdisciplinary research is becoming increasingly attractive (and perhaps unavoidable) as the scientific questions being tackled become more complex. Scientists vary greatly in their experience with collaborations and opportunities are rare to discuss how to make the most of these collaborations. What factors make them work, and how can the success be measured? The symposium examined successful models in which a number of scientists have bridged the extradisciplinary gap across disciplines and the intradisciplinary gap across methods and concepts within a discipline. Individuals reported on the logistic, social, and scientific processes that drive intellectual growth and research and reflected on the social factors that can make or break a successful collaboration. Attendees also discussed how to quantitatively measure collaboration and interdisciplinarity at both small and large scales using sophisticated scientometric and bibiometric techniques. In a unique combination, the history of the Perceptual Expertise Network, originally funded by the James S. McDonnell Foundation and now also supported by NSF as part of the TDLC was related from both the perspectives of the scientists and the funding agency that originally supported its creation several years ago. The TDLC was highlighted for its efforts to expand the collaborative research network model to a network of networks.