Background

(full workshop proposal as pdf, version of Dec 21, 2016)

Research in CSCW has fruitfully concentrated on collaborative practices within large, long-term, and distributed research projects in the sciences (e.g., [2, 6, 7, 10, 13]). In such projects, collaboration becomes a necessity often due to, and by virtue of, computation- and data-intensive research endeavors. CSCW research has studied the sociotechnical infrastructures to pool such resources and provided access and special tools to networks or access grids for data storage and processing.

However, an emerging focus in CSCW and STS rests on large swaths of collaborative research in the qualitative social sciences and humanities (SSH)—research that often works with less structured data, follows less routinized processes, and engages in more fluid, flexible, and open-ended research practices (e.g., [1, 3, 14]). While some accounts state that, measured by co-authorship, collaboration in the SSH traditionally is barely happening [8, 16, 17], it stands to reason that SSH researchers, too, are faced with the invisible labor to ‘make work work’, i.e., largely unacknowledged collaborative efforts beyond co-authorship and collaborative knowledge production. These efforts have, so far, been rarely studied by CSCW research.

Moreover, SSH has witnessed a push for more collaborative research projects during recent years, a development fostered by structural changes of the research landscape and the growing importance of interdisciplinary cooperation and external funding. Furthermore, SSH researchers make more and more use of a large range of software products. Since the early 1990s, all phases of qualitative and iterative research processes have been increasingly ‘digitalized’ [5, 9], an emblematic example being software products for qualitative data analysis (QDA) such as MAXQDA, atlas.ti, NVivo or EXMERaLDA. These software tools have been developed in interdisciplinary settings by information scientists, sociologists, linguists, etc. and are rooted in a diversity of epistemological backgrounds and interests (grounded theory, content analysis, etc.). To which extent these tools bring about new collaborative practices of qualitative data analysis or project management, is a question hardly studied so far.

The goal of this one-day workshop is to discuss the conditions and challenges characteristic of research collaboration in the qualitative social sciences and humanities (SSH). By way of a working hypothesis, we suggest the following provisional list of features that may distinguish (collaborative) research practices in the SSH (see, e.g., [1, 4, 11, 15]):

  • Weakly structured data that often does not facilitate straightforward computerized collection, storage, and analyses.
  • Heterogeneous understandings of ‘data’; different approaches to process and analyze data.
  • Plurality of research standards, traditions, and approaches.
  • Special role of language, text, and context; heterogeneous weighting of concepts, arguments, and evidence.
  • Large national and cultural differences; disparate communities due to language, tradition, and cultural contexts.
  • Diverse collaboration structures and characteristics; distinct phases of individual scholarship.
  • Increased mobility; not tethered to special equipment in a physical lab (as exemplified, e.g., by distributed research teams or methods such as multi-sited ethnography)
  • Limited funding for IT infrastructures or less awareness of the necessity of funding for IT support.

The workshop seeks to collect empirical insights and design experiences, preparing the grounds for a comprehensive understanding of the role of e-infrastructures for collaborative research practices in SSH.

References

  1. Franz Barjak, Julia Lane, Zack Kertcher, Meik Poschen, Rob Procter, and Simon Robinson. 2009. Case Studies of e-Infrastructure Adoption. Social Science Computer Review 27, 4: 583-600.
  2. Paul N. Edwards, Steven J. Jackson, Melissa K. Chalmers, Geoffrey C. Bowker, Christine L. Borgman, David Ribes, Matt Burton, and Scout Calvert. 2013. Knowledge Infrastructures: Intellectual Frameworks and Research Challenges. Ann Arbor: Deep Blue. http://hdl.handle.net/2027.42/97552
  3. Uwe Flick. An Introduction to Qualitative Research. (5th ed.). London/Thousand Oaks, CA/Dehli: Sage.
  4. Grace De La Flor, Marina Jirotka, Paul Luff, John Pybus, and Ruth Kirkham. 2010. Transforming Scholarly Practice: Embedding Technological Interventions to Support the Collaborative Analysis of Ancient Texts. Computer Supported Cooperative Work 19, 3-4 (August 2010), 309-334.
  5. Graham R. Gibbs, Susanne Friese & Wilma C. Mangabeira (eds.): Using Technology in the Qualitative Research Process, Forum Social Research, Special Issue, Vol 3, No 2 (2002).
  6. Steven J. Jackson, Paul N. Edwards, Geoffrey C. Bowker, Cory P. Knobel. 2007. Understanding infrastructure: History, heuristics and cyberinfrastructure policy. First Monday 12, 6. http://dx.doi.org/10.5210/fm.v12i6.1904
  7. Marina Jirotka, Charlotte P. Lee, and Gary M. Olson. 2013. Supporting Scientific Collaboration: Methods, Tools and Concepts. Computer Supported Cooperative Work 22, 4-6: 667-715.
  8. Sylvan Katz and Ben R. Martin. 1997. What is research collaboration? Research Policy 26: 1-18.
  9. Udo Kuckartz. Qualitative Text Analysis. A Guide to Methods, Practice & Using Software. 2014. Sage Publications (first publ. 2002).
  10. Charlotte P. Lee, Paul Dourish, and Gloria Mark. 2006. The human infrastructure of cyberinfrastructure. In Proceedings of the 2006 20th anniversary conference on Computer supported cooperative work (CSCW ’06). ACM, New York, NY, USA, 483-492. http://doi.acm.org/10.1145/1180875.1180950
  11. Bonnie Mak and Julia Pollack. 2016. On the design of the humanities. interactions 23, 4 (June 2016), 76-79. http://dx.doi.org/10.1145/2945291
  12. Volkmar Pipek and Volker Wulf. 2009. Infrastructuring: Toward an Integrated Perspective on the Design and Use of Information Technology. Journal of the Association for Information Systems 10, 5: 447–473.
  13. David Ribes and Charlotte P. Lee. 2010. Sociotechnical Studies of Cyberinfrastructure and e-Research: Current Themes and Future Trajectories. Computer Supported Cooperative Work 19, 3: 231–244.
  14. Steve Sawyer, Elizabeth Kaziunas, and Carsten Øesterlund. 2012. Social scientists and cyberinfrastructure: insights from a document perspective. In Proceedings of the ACM 2012 conference on Computer Supported Cooperative Work (CSCW ’12). ACM, New York, NY, USA, 931-934. http://dx.doi.org/10.1145/2145204.2145342
  15. Diane H. Sonnenwald. 2007. Scientific Collaboration. Annual Review of Information Science and Technology 41, 1: 643-681.
  16. Brad Wray. 2002. The Epistemic Significance of Collaborative Research. Philosophy of Science 69, 1: 150-168.
  17. Stefan Wuchty, Benjamin F. Jones, and Brian Uzzi. 2007. The Increasing Dominance of Teams in Production of Knowledge. Science 316: 1036-1039.
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