OOS 24-1
The keys to innovation arising from collaborative scientific networks

Tuesday, August 11, 2015: 1:30 PM
314, Baltimore Convention Center
Eric W. Seabloom, Ecology, Evolution, and Behavior, University of Minnesota, Saint Paul, MN
Elizabeth T. Borer, Ecology, Evolution, and Behavior, University of Minnesota, Saint Paul, MN

Ecological research is being transformed by increasing use of scientific collaboration by large groups of investigators to answer regional- and global-scale questions.  The formation of these 'grassroots scientific' groups has been natural and spontaneous, often with little or no formal funding.  Although large group collaborations are being increasingly employed to overcome the barriers to collection of spatially-extensive observational and experimental data, and these networks are contributing in novel ways to our understanding of the biosphere, there has been little synthesis of the key elements underpinning successful scientific contributions by these large investigator groups. 

A survey of several leaders of spatially-extensive collaborative networks highlights some of the keys to 'grassroots' network productivity.  These include clear expectations for data collection, sharing, and analysis; effective data management; face-to-face interactions among collaborators; inclusion, support, and leadership of young investigators; and meetings with flexible work time, focused on scientific products rather than formal talks.  These results echo those from studies of synthesis groups.  Given the increasing employment of this approach, these results also point the way for the formation and success of future 'grassroots' networks.