Category Archives: Science

Using Network Analysis to Increase the Impact of Center Grant and Team Science Proposals – NORDP 2012

At the National Organization of Research Development Professionals [NORDP] 2012 conference, I spoke about using network analysis to increase the impact of center grant and team science proposals, including researcher collaboration, topic identification, and team formation.

Download the presentation: PDF

If you are not familiar with network analysis, you might want to check out my earlier presentation Approachable Network Analysis first.

Data-Driven Matching for Fostering Relationships among Scientists: Quantitative Assistance for a Human-Centered Process – Science of Team Science 2012

Download our poster: PDF


Jeff Horon, MBA, Elsevier, Inc.
Meredith Riebschleger, MD, University of Michigan Mott Children’s Hospital

SciTS Topic

Other (Methods for Team Formation / Researcher Networking)

Key Words

Team Formation, Researcher Networking, Data-Driven Networking, Interventional Networking, Algorithm-Based Matching, Dyads, Mentoring, Mentor-Mentee


Data-driven matching of scientists for the purpose of fostering working relationships has the potential to improve and expedite the matching process. The AMIGO Steering Committee, which matches Pediatric Rheumatology mentors and mentees nationally, employed survey data and a matching algorithm to expedite matching of mentor-mentee dyads. In pilot testing, the group matched 20 dyads from pools of 20 mentees and 49 mentors, completing the process in only 1 hour. Early indicators are that these matches were well-formed. The project team continues to track the experimental (algorithm-assisted pilot) group against the control (human-only matching process) group. These findings invite further study by team science researchers working to predict successful team formation in the matching of dyads and larger groups of scientists. These findings also suggest new best practices for practitioners of scientist matching.

Typically, such a third party matching is accomplished using human judgment about an implicitly calculated probability for success, but in situations where many matches are required, the complexity of the problem quickly scales beyond human limits like available time and memory capacity.

Using data-driven matching via algorithms can provide meaningful assistance. Algorithms can account for more persons and more facts per person during the matching process and can evaluate a significantly higher number of potential matches. Importantly, data-driven matching is not mutually exclusive with human-driven matching. The AMIGO Steering Committee used the output of the data-driven match process as an input to the human-driven match process.

Beyond the remarkable time savings involved in matching 20 dyads in an hour, preliminary results reflecting match quality are positive. Of these dyads, 9 met in person at an event following the match process. As of one month after the initial match (with 20 of 20 dyads responding), 19 of the dyads had made initial contact, 13 had exchanged CVs, and 15 had spent at least 30 minutes in discussion of the mentee’s career. One dyad had to be re-matched for reasons not captured in the questionnaire.

The project team anticipates expanding the process to more mentor-mentee dyads in the future and adjusting the algorithm based upon further analysis of how the results of the human matching process differed from the algorithm matching process.

Further study is suggested for the formation of larger groups.

Connect and Collaborate: Current Approaches to Research Networking – NCURA Region IV/V Spring Meeting 2012

Dr. Oliver Bogler [ @MDAnderson_GAP ] and I presented on current approaches to research networking at the National Council of University Research Administrators (NCURA) Regions IV and V.

View Dr. Bogler’s presentation: Prezi

(My portion of the presentation was primarily a live demonstration of current research networking solutions and was not recorded)


The research landscape is increasingly interdisciplinary and international in nature, and competition for funding is more intense than ever. Institutions want to enhance collaboration between researchers and between institutions to drive interdisciplinary research and secure more funding. While scholars know many of their key colleagues in their own fields of study, they often struggle to find appropriate collaborators outside of their disciplines. Research networking tools and national research networking initiatives are being implemented at many leading research institutions in the United States to help researchers find collaborators. International interest and participation in research networking is also growing. This session will explore some of the research networking initiatives in place today and showcase The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center’s development of a global cancer network.

Oliver Bogler, Sr. VP Academic Affairs, University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center
Jeff Horon, Consultant, Elsevier

Interventional Researcher Networking – VIVO Conference 2011

Materials from our presentation Interventional Researcher Networking are now available: PDF

Interventions to Increase Awareness and Collaboration among Potential Collaborators


Jeff Horon, MBA, Elsevier, Inc., Ann Arbor, Michigan, U.S.

Antonius Tsai, MBA, University of Michigan Medical School, Ann Arbor, Michigan, U.S.

Jennifer Hill, BBA, University of Michigan Medical School, Ann Arbor, Michigan, U.S.


This presentation will describe a set of interventional actions undertaken to increase researchers’ awareness of other researchers in a pool of potential collaborators. In an effort to foster new collaborations within a newly-formed institute, the authors developed a set of novel interventions and implemented them at an institute launch conference. These interventions included:

-Objective detection of researchers working in specific topic areas, to supplement institute founders’ knowledge of researchers working in relevant topic areas with information about previously-unknown researchers also working in these topic areas. Objective detection allowed for increased inclusiveness and comprehensiveness of the launch conference invitee list.

-Introductions based upon data-driven, Netflix-style recommendations: “Please allow us to introduce you to {researcher} due to {reason(s)}.” Introductions were made based upon responses to the institute’s launch conference registration survey. Attendees were matched based upon expressing strong mutual interest in a topic and/or by study method in situations where one researcher expressed a need for expertise in a method and another research expressed the ability to share methodological expertise in the same method. Reciprocal methodological need/provision matches were considered especially strong matches. Existing collaboration data covering co-authored publications and co-participation on sponsored projects were used to rule out matches who had collaborated in the past.

-Seating arrangements based upon the same matching process underlying the introductions

-Conversation-provoking material, including a visualization of attendees arranged according to indicated areas of strong interest

Research Networking Tools Workshop / Panel – Science of Team Science Conference 2011

Materials from my presentation at the Science of Team Science [SciTS] Conference 2011 are now available: PDF

I presented on the University of Michigan’s implementation of Elsevier SciVal Experts at the Knowledge Management for Collaborative Research: Research Networking Tools Panel / Workshop.

From the session abstract:

A Research Networking (RN) tool is a web-based, comprehensive knowledge management system that harvests information about individuals’ research and scholarly expertise into searchable, networked profiles. RN tools, which often include powerful network analytics and visualization capacity, offer passive and active networking of expertise profiles to identify potential new collaborations. This workshop first examines RN tools from the main content providers’ perspective—the researcher. Next, representatives from three institutions provide an overview of different RN tools and how they are being used to facilitate new collaborations and team science. Finally, the workshop will inform about the efforts of a national RN initiative focused on developing interoperability between RN tools and creating a federated national network.