Understanding and enabling network dynamics in virtual communities
While there is growing awareness of the socioeconomic consequences of team collaborations, we have little socio-technical understanding of how teams are assembled, or how a given mode of assembly impacts their effectiveness. This project seeks to address this limitation. We develop a theoretical framework to understand the socio-technical dynamics shaping the assembly of teams in virtual communities.
With the advent of cyberinfrastructure, the assembly of teams is both enabled and constrained by the multidimensional networks in which members are embedded. These multidimensional networks include a variety of links that exist not only among individuals, but also with documents, datasets, workflows, analytic tools, and concepts. With these new configurations in mind, and using data from six major initiatives serving diverse scientific virtual communities, this project addresses two main research questions: First, what are the socio-technical motivations that explain the assembly of teams in virtual communities? Second, to what extent do the assembly mechanisms of teams influence their effectiveness?
Several research teams are currently working on this project, as described below:
1. Team Assembly
Description: Two research studies examine team assembly mechanisms of scientific collaboration and their impact on productivity in a virtual space.
Study 1: Team Assembly and Scientific Collaboration on NanoHub
Authors: Drew Margolin and Katherine Ognyanova (USC); Cuihua Shen (University of Texas, Dallas); Meikuan Huang, Yun Huang, and Noshir Contractor (Northwestern University)
Study 2: Team Formation and Performance on NanoHub: A Network Selection Challenge in Scientific Communities
Authors: Drew Margolin and Katherine Ognyanova (USC); Meikuan Huang, Yun Huang, and Noshir Contractor (Northwestern University)
2. Identifying Perceived Experts in an Online Community of Practice
Authors: Amanda Beacom and Young Ji Kim (USC); Matthew Weber (Duke University); Jaclyn Selby and Peter Monge (USC)
Description: Online communities of practice have become an important medium for the development of knowledge within professional fields. Previous research suggests that the potential to enhance one’s expert status is a key motivation for participation in such communities. The objective of this research is to contribute to the understanding of how perceived expert status is constructed in an online community of practice, using status characteristics theory to examine the influence of individual attributes and social capital theory to explore the influence of relational ties, and utilizing data collected from nanoHUB.org, an online community for nanotechnology scientists.
The Evolution of Interorganizational Networks in NGO Communities
Peter Monge, Janet Fulk, Jessica Gould, Joyee Chatterjee, Bettina Heiss, Seungyoon Lee, Nina O’Brien, Drew Margolin, Cuihua Shen, Kimberlie Stephens, Matthew Weber
This research draws on archival data sources to examine changes in the network structures of international nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) over time. Network analyses of these sources allow for empirical tests of a novel integration and expansion of the theories of organizational evolution and the new science of network in the context of the study of nonprofit organizing. Interorganizational network datasets were constructed based on the Yearbook of International Organizations (YIO), published annually by the Union of International Associations (UIA). Additional datasets capture the ways NGOs are linked via Internet hyperlinks. Access to link data has been provided to the researchers by Google Inc. as well as the Internet archive Wayback Machine.
Secondary sources such as information on organizational websites were used to supplement these datasets. Several social network analyses tools were combined to scrutinize the properties of the NGO networks on multiple levels of analysis, ranging from individual links between organizations to the entire linkage structure of the network. Visualization software helped to illustrate the dynamic changes of NGO networks over time and to test a variety of hypotheses about their structural evolution.
WebHistorian Digging into Data
Peter Monge, Janet Fulk, Matthew Weber, Eric Meyer,Kris Carpenter, Seamus Ross
The WebHistorian Digging into Data grant application is a grant proposal to fund international research examining the development of content and networks between Web sites and online organizations over time. The proposal itself will fund the development of an archival Web crawler the will interface with the Internet Archive (archive.org), as well as a number of exemplar projects that will build towards a common methodology for archival Internet research. If funded, this project will be supported by the NSF and NEH (USA), SSHRC (Canada) and JISC (UK).