Category Archives: Research Networks

Emerging Methods and Tools for Sparking New Global Creative Networks – COINs15 Tokyo

Download “Emerging Methods and Tools for Sparking New Global Creative Networks” from the Proceedings of the 5th International Conference on Collaborative Innovation Networks (COINs15), Tokyo, Japan – Paper: [PDF] [arXiv] [arXiv PDF] Presentation: [PDF] Poster: [PDF]

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Proceedings of the 5th International Conference on Collaborative Innovation Networks (COINs15)

Emerging Methods and Tools for Sparking New Global Creative Networks

Jeff Horon, Elsevier Research Intelligence, 360 Park Ave S, New York, NY, 10010, USA

Abstract

Emerging methods and tools are changing the ways participants in global creative networks become aware of each other and proceed to interact.  These methods and tools are beginning to influence the collaboration opportunities available to network participants.
Some web-based resources intended to spark new collaborations in creative networks have been plagued by dependence on fragmented or out-of-date information, having shallow recall (e.g. by being limited to a list of manually curated keywords), offering poor interconnectivity with other systems, and/or obtaining low end-user adoption.

Increased availability of information about creative network participants’ activities and outputs (such as completed sponsored research projects and published results, aggregated into global databases), coupled with advancement in information processing techniques like Natural Language Processing (NLP), enables new web-based technologies for discovering subject matter experts, facilities, and networks of current and potential collaborators.  Large-scale data resources and NLP allow modern versions of these tools to avoid the problems of having sparse/fragmented data and also provide for deep recall, sometimes within and across many disciplinary vocabularies.  These tools are known as “passive” technologies, from the perspective of the creative network participant, because the agent must undertake an action to use the information resources placed at his or her disposal.

Emerging “active” methods and tools utilize the same types of information and technologies, but actively intervene in the formation of the creative network by suggesting connections and arranging virtual or physical interactions.  Active approaches can achieve very high end-user adoption rates.

Both active and passive methods strive to use data-driven approaches to form better-than-chance awareness among networks of potential collaborators.  Modern instances of both types of systems generally support interconnectivity with other systems, and therefore expand the size of participants’ networks, resulting in a larger pool of potential collaborators from which to draw upon, within the system and additionally wherever the data is repurposed (e.g. into federated searches and customized applications).

Examples and Case Studies

“Passive” Networking Applications

The most widely deployed applications (providers) are: the Pure Experts portal (Elsevier), VIVO (DuraSpace), and Harvard Profiles (Harvard Medical School).  Each of these applications facilitates search and discovery of subject matter experts and their research activities and outputs.  These systems are generally organized and supported at the university level.  These applications are also federated into multi-institutional search frameworks including Direct2Experts and CTSAsearch – both of which are open to all three of the networking applications above, as well as other less widely deployed applications.

“Active” Networking Applications

Efforts toward active networking interventions are sometimes made with ‘researcher speed dating’ activities, but these generally rely on an audience with some mutual interests being gathered together (e.g. at a conference or symposium) and pairings are typically random.  Despite the existence of predictive factors for propensity to collaborate and likelihood of achieving team goals (e.g. obtaining external funding for research projects)[i], data-driven active networking methods are comparatively rarely used.  Prior case studies in active networking include:

Team design for large center and team science proposals

The University of Michigan Medical School assisted a principal investigator applicant for a large center grant with team formation, based on identifying potential participants publishing or having sponsored projects in subject matter related to the center.  This allowed for discovery of related expertise by analyzing term co-occurrence, and then discovery of the subject matter experts working with those concepts.  Multiple rounds of iteration resulted in a list of keywords, stemmed to related key terms, such that the list was both inclusive of the desired family of concepts and exclusive of ‘false positive’ matches.

Suggested casual interactions at a physical event

At an institute launch event, the University of Michigan employed search methods similar to those above for objective detection of researchers working in related 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.

Launch event organizers solicited survey responses from participants concerning areas of methodological expertise, methodological needs for upcoming projects, and areas of interest within several pre-identified areas related to the institute.

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 (Figure 1):

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Figure 1:   A generalized example of an especially strong match

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.

To maximize the chances strong matches would interact, the seating chart was also arranged to place strong matches at the same tables.  This event also included conversation-provoking material, including a visualization of attendees arranged in a social networking diagram according to indicated areas of strong interest.

The matching process proved to be very flexible and was used to support a novel approach to bridging mentorship gaps in pediatric research[ii].

Scheduled interactions at a physical event

The University of Texas System M.D. Anderson Cancer Center has in recent years built into a key global cancer conference activities for scheduled networking interactions.  The survey mechanism is similar to the University of Michigan example above, as are the recommendations, but there is also accommodation for arranging meetings including generally a mix of online meeting coordination, dedicated meeting time available, and dedicated meeting spaces available.  Given rotating global locations and varied attendees from year-to-year, priority is given to matches from different institutions as there may only be one time they are physically co-located.

In addition to the meetings booked during a specific speed dating event window in the conference program, the project team also noted a number of off-hours and informal meetings taking place, driven in part by the recommended matches.

Conclusion

These emerging methods and tools suggest the existence of repeatable strategies for facilitating data-driven matching and better-than-chance interactions designed to spark new global creative networks.  As these methods become further systematized and see wider adoption, they are poised to influence larger numbers of creative networks and their participants.


[i] Lungeanu, A., Huang, Y., and Contractor, N.S. (2014) “Understanding the assembly of interdisciplinary teams and its impact on performance.” Journal of Informetrics.  8(1):59-70.

[ii] Nigrovic, P.A., Muscal, E., Riebschleger, M., et. al. (2014) “AMIGO: A Novel Approach to the Mentorship Gap in Pediatric Rheumatology” Journal of Pediatrics 164(2):226-7.e1-3.

University, Industry, and Government Partnership: A Science and Technology Roadmap to Drive Innovation – APLU 2014

Download “University, Industry, and Government Partnership: A Science and Technology Roadmap to Drive Innovation” from the Association of Public and Land-Grant Universities (APLU) Annual Meeting 2014, Orlando, Florida: [PDF]

Hosted by: Elsevier Research Intelligence

The Illinois Science & Technology Coalition (ISTC) in September 2014 issued the Illinois Science & Technology Roadmap (S&T Roadmap), an innovative, data-driven report that identifies key technology areas where Illinois has a comparative advantage in innovation.  As one of the Roadmap’s key data partners, Elsevier helped ISTC identify the science and technology research strengths of Illinois.  Drawing on data from Scopus, the world’s largest abstract and citation database, Elsevier and ISTC analyzed indicators of research output and citation impact, cross-sector collaboration, patent citations, and research usage to determine what are Illinois’s main competitive research strengths vis-à-vis other peer states and the US as a whole.

You will see results from the S&T Roadmap and learn how universities’ research offices, tech transfer and commercialization offices, and corporate relations as well as those from industry (tech/company incubators, VC funders) and government (national labs, Department of Commerce, etc.) can work together to impact innovation at the state level.

Speaker: Jeff Horon, Consultant, Elsevier Research Intelligence

Data-Enabled and Spontaneous Researcher Networking at an International Conference – SciTS 2014

Download “Data-Enabled and Spontaneous Researcher Networking at an International Conference” from the Science of Team Science [SciTS] 2014 conference: PDF

Abstract:

This case study explores the use of both data-enabled and spontaneous researcher networking activities among attendees at an international conference based in Seoul, South Korea, in an attempt to utilize knowledge from the Science of Team Science field and discern best practices in their application.

Data-enabled networking activities included an advance survey of all attendees to find participants willing to participate in networking activities, and then suggesting networking partners based upon methodological expertise, methodological needs, and common interests. Response rates and participant feedback will be discussed.

Spontaneous networking activities were also made available to attendees stopping by a physical networking space made available for the duration of the conference. Activities included live browsing of research networking tools and a system for making requests related to research and responding to the requests of others, based upon sociological theories of reciprocity. Participation rates and participant feedback will be discussed.

Strategies for Increasing the Competitiveness of Team Science and Center Grant Proposals – NORDP 2014

Download “Strategies for Increasing the Competitiveness of Team Science and Center Grant Proposals” from the NORDP 2014 Conference: PDF

Co-presenters

Christine Black, Assistant Director, University of Michigan Medical School Office of Research

Jeff Horon, Consultant, Elsevier Research Intelligence

Problem statement

Multiple factors in the research landscape are converging to make the competitiveness of an institution’s team science and center grant proposals critical to long-term financial sustainability. Science is increasingly performed in larger teams. Funding bodies are receiving more proposals for the same award dollars. These factors, combined with the larger financial scale of team science and center grant proposals, make it more important than ever to submit proposals that will stand apart from the crowd.

Best practices

Christine Black will discuss the array of resources and services available to investigators at the University of Michigan Medical School, including:

Direct proposal assistance – defraying the costs of proposal preparation, editing services, and peer review

Informational resources – a database of previously funded proposals,

CTSA resources for team science

Attention to resource-based competitiveness – maintenance of leading-edge cores / shared service facilities and equipment, and a database of the resources available

Jeff Horon will discuss further non-traditional and data-enabled support, including:

Team formation assistance – discovering new team/center participants via searches of subject matter expertise data

Evidence to increase proposal impact – utilizing network analysis of prior co-authorship and co-participation on sponsored projects

Direct proposal assistance – establishing data resources to complete exhibits and supplementary data requirements with minimal burden on pre-award staff

Topic tracks: Managing team science/team research, Large proposal development

Evidence-based Metrics for Research Performance Strategies – NORDP 2014

Download “Evidence-based Metrics for Research Performance Strategies” from the Pre-NORDP 2014 Workshop: PDF

This presentation covers:

What are metrics?
+How to develop good metrics

Metrics for research
+How to develop good research metrics

Expanding research dashboard metrics to benchmarking and collaboration

Drilling beneath research dashboard metrics for advanced use

Abstract:

With increased competition in the US R&D landscape, research institutions are taking a strategic approach to research and collaboration strategies. Structured data sources, evidence-based metrics, and collaboration and benchmarking tools, as delivered by the new Pure Experts Portal, are increasingly being used by research managers to inform decision making and to enhance their institutions research strategy. Current users of SciVal Experts will share case studies and how they have used the web services and functionality of SciVal Experts to address critical institution needs.

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.