Category Archives: Research Networks

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.

Places & Spaces: Mapping Science Exhibit

The Places & Spaces: Mapping Science Exhibit visited the University of Michigan Hatcher Graduate Library from March 7 through May 24, 2011.

From my trip to the exhibit — the Network Science Research poster from University of Michigan contributors featured prominently at the entrance:


 From the poster:

The works presented here were invited to accompany the international Places & Spaces: Mapping Science exhibit on display at the University of Michigan Library in March 1 to May 24, 2011.

The maps showcase excellence in network science research and education at the University of Michigan. They were created in many different areas of science, including medicine, bioinformatics, sociology, organizational studies, information science, and physics, to advance our understanding of the structure and dynamics of networks.

On a practical side, Jeff Horon’s map demonstrates the innovative usage of science analysis and mapping in support of team formation and grant proposal writing that helped secure a P30 award by National Institutes of Health that finances a new Nutrition Obesity Research Center at the University of Michigan.

It is our hope that the Mapping Science exhibit will inspire future collaborations across disciplinary and geospatial boundaries, the application of effective visualization techniques to communicate the results of these studies, and the adoption of advanced data analysis and visualization methods to improve daily decision making.

Download the poster: PDF

The exhibit features maps describing the power of maps, reference systems, and forecasts as well as science maps for economic decision makers, policy makers, and scholars. These are the ‘stars of the show’ but I won’t go into detail here since they are already well-described on the exhibit website.

The exhibit also features WorldProcessor Globes reflecting ‘Patterns of Patents & Zones of Invention’ over time and across geography:


Patterns of Patents & Zones of Invention [WorldProcessor #286]

“This globe plots the total amount of patents granted worldwide, beginning in 1883 with just under 50,000, hitting 650,000 in 1993 (near the North Pole), and (shifting the scale to the southern hemisphere) continuing to 2002 on a rapid climb towards 1 million. Geographic regions where countries offer environments conducive to fostering innovation are represented by topology. Additionally, nations where residents are granted an average of 500 or more US patents per year are called out in red by their respective averages in the years after 2000. © 2005 Ingo Gunther”


And the ‘Shape of Science’ given “quantified connectivities and relative flows of inquiry within the world of science”:


“This rendering is of a prospective tangible sculpture of the Shape of Science, based on the research of Richard Klavans and Kevin Boyack, spatializing the quantified connectivities and relative flows of inquiry within the world of science. © 2006 Ingo Gunther w/ Stephen Oh”


The exhibit also includes interactive video monitors and hands-on maps for kids.

 Attributions and Acknowledgements:

Network Science Research Poster

“Several University of Michigan faculty created maps included in the exhibit: Santiago Schnell, Molecular and Integrative Physiology; Lada Adamic, School of Information; M. E. J. Newman, Physics; Jeff Horon, Medical School; Helena Buhr, Natalie Cotton, and Jason Owen-Smith, Sociology and Organizational Studies.”


Overall Exhibit

Places & Spaces is curated Dr. Katy Börner and Michael J. Stamper, School of Library and Information Science at Indiana University. Places & Spaces also receives input from the Places and Spaces Advisory Board. The exhibit is sponsored by the National Science Foundation under Grant No. IIS-0238261, CHE-0524661, IIS-0737783 and IIS-0715303; the James S. McDonnell Foundation; Thomson Scientific/Reuters; Elsevier; the Cyberinfrastructure for Network Science Center, University Information Technology Services, and the School of Library and Information Science, all three at Indiana University. Some of the data used to generate the science maps is from Thomson Scientific/Reuters.

Thank you to Dr. Katy Börner and Michael J. Stamper for curating the exhibit. Thank you to Tim Utter and Rebecca Hill for bringing the exhibit to the University of Michigan.

This exhibit was mentioned in press at:

Heritage Newspapers Online and Print Editions