Human Factors in Four Cases of E-Collaboration in Biomedical Research: A Qualitative Study

Human Factors in Four Cases of E-Collaboration in Biomedical Research: A Qualitative Study

Kathleen Gray (The University of Melbourne, Australia), Gabrielle Bright (The University of Melbourne, Australia) and Ardis Cheng (The University of Melbourne, Australia)
Copyright: © 2012 |Pages: 14
DOI: 10.4018/jec.2012040102
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Abstract

There are compelling arguments for using internet technologies to facilitate research in the biomedical sciences. This project sought to fill a gap in empirical studies of e-collaboration use by biomedical research teams through a study of four cases, based in the research precinct associated with one Australian university, collaborating with international researchers. Researchers were found to hold mixed beliefs and show varying degrees of systematic thinking about how, when and why e-collaboration supported their activities. It appears that researchers need assistance to conceptualise and articulate what works in order to transform their e-collaboration practices to yield increased scientific efficiency and productivity.
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Literature Review

Research into e-collaboration in health and biomedical science research falls within a small, but growing, body of research in “the human infrastructure of cyberinfrastructure” (Lee, Dourish, & Mark, 2006). Despite its growing importance to the future of research practices, e-collaboration in this environment is not often described. In contrast to research in commercial environments, there has been little consideration given to e-collaboration in health and biomedical research endeavours.

There has been important qualitative research into e-collaboration undertaken, such as the study of the management of virtual projects by Khazanchi and Zigurs (2006), but the data gathered through questionnaires and focus groups was from business people. This qualitative research is supplemented with behavioural studies such as the Wickham and Walther (2007) study of undergraduate students undertaking computer-mediated decision-making. The sociolinguistic research by Gefen, Geri, and Paravastu (2007) shows that the gender is a factor in how individuals interact in an e-collaboration environment, though data was from text-only postings in an online discussion.

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