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Exploring transdisciplinary scientific collaboration

Institution: University of California, Irvine
Investigator(s): Juliana Lynn Fuqua, Ph.D.
Award Cycle: 2001 (Cycle 10) Grant #: 10DT-0178 Award: $29,040
Subject Area: Public Health, Public Policy, and Economics
Award Type: Dissertation Awards

Initial Award Abstract
Transdisciplinary scientific collaborations have the potential to solve real-world health and social problems such as tobacco-related disease. Over the past decade, scientists and scholars have received increasing encouragement and funding to join teams to work jointly on the problem of tobacco use and other health problems. Yet little is known about how to promote the success of scholars working collaboratively, and few if any studies have examined that circumstances that influence the process and success of interdisciplinary collaboration. This dissertation study will provide an ongoing, systematic investigation of the interactions and synergies (or intellectual bridging of ideas, theories, methods, or findings among different disciplines) among the members of the Transdisciplinary Tobacco Use Research Centers (TTURC) at the University of California, Irvine (UCI) and the University of California (USC). The primary purpose of this study is to create a grounded theory of transdisciplinary scientific collaboration that identifies key antecedents and processes that facilitate and hinder cross-disciplinary collaboration. This study extends the research currently being conducted by the UCI TTURC Transdisciplinary Core project. Faculty USC and UCI TTURC members, supportive staff members, and administrators from each university will be among the individuals interviewed and surveyed regularly. The content, affect, and scientific potential outcomes of informal communication and meetings will be recorded and coded to reveal barriers and facilitators of collaboration between scientists of different disciplinary backgrounds. Web-based forms will be developed and utilized to collect attitudinal, evaluative, and outcome-related data from TTURC members after meetings and other important events. Quantitative and qualitative data will be converged and interpreted to reveal a model of transdisciplinary scientific collaboration that will facilitate future collaborations. Findings based on the model will be fed back to participants as an intervention method to facilitate TTURC collaboration in an effort to help reduce the barriers facing transdisciplinary collaborators, including those working on solving problems associated with tobacco use.