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Member Research & Reports

Member Research & Reports

WashU: Length of Service, Central Leader Promote Collaboration

Scientific collaborations at a large, transdisciplinary research center increased the longer the members were affiliated with the center, according to a new study by the Brown School at Washington University in St. Louis. The network included junior and senior researchers from three organizations and nine disciplines who were affiliated with the university’s Center for Diabetes Translation Research.

Jenine Harris

HaireJoshu[Photo: Dr. Jenine K. Harris (above), Dr. Debra Hare-Joshu]

Researchers found that for every year a network member had been involved with the center, they were 10 percent more likely to have collaborated with another center member and 13 percent more likely to have worked on a publication with another center member. Rank and discipline were not significantly associated with collaboration.

They also found that the network was highly centralized around the director, “who was significantly more likely to form ties across all types of scholarly collaboration,” wrote lead author Dr. Jenine K. Harris.  She suggested that future studies examine centers with other leadership structures to see if they were similarly collaborative.

“As transdisciplinary centers become more common, it is important to identify structural features associated with scholarly productivity and, ultimately, with advancing science and practice,” Dr. Harris concluded.

The center is one of seven in the U.S. supported by the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney diseases. Its director is Dr. Debra Haire-Joshu, Joyce Wood Professor at the Brown School, who was also a co-author of the study.

The study was published August 24 in the journal PLOS One.

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