Researching Globalization: Re-thinking the Future of Collaborative Research

by Jorge Fernandes, Roberta Lamb, Shichao Li and James White


In the late 1980s the National Science Foundation advanced a proposal to integrate researchers working in different disciplines around the United States in virtual laboratories. Inspired by the potential for physical networks like the Internet to support and foster collaboration, the emergence of these “collaboratories” was celebrated as heralding a new epoch in scientific collaboration, which would both maximize the use of remote technology and accelerate the pace of discoveries and innovations. By the late 1990s, enthusiasm was dampened by the realization that participation in collaboratories had declined considerably after the first few years, resulting in much debate over why collaboratories have not lived up to their potential. This paper examines the birth of collaboratories at a time of euphoria about the possibilities of the information society, and analyses reasons for their relative failure. It proposes a fresh approach through a network-focused matrix, dubbed the Globalization Atlas and Portal Project. A working prototype of this model may offer a solution to what remains a major problem in academia and research circles in general — the difficulty of achieving ongoing, meaningful collaboration across disciplines. It concludes with a deconstruction of the question whether collaborative research has a future. (continue…)


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