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Researchers to Model the Life Cycles of Successful Virtual Teams

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Florida State University (FSU) researcher Kathleen Burnett has received a two-year, $380,226 U.S. National Science Foundation grant to study scientific researchers working at FSU's National High Magnetic Field Laboratory. Burnett hopes to discover a model for innovative and efficient virtual research teams. About 900 researchers work at the laboratory for projects that encompass everything from medicine to technology. Because people come from diverse cultural, geographical, linguistic, and disciplinary backgrounds, they often have to negotiate relationships months before arriving at FSU. Burnett's team will track the relationships the researchers form by silently observing their research and meetings, speaking with scientists and engineers, studying published reports on their joint work, and reviewing their communication records such as emails, videoconferences, and notes from meetings.

Co-principal investigator Michelle Kazmer hopes to discover why certain researchers choose to work with one another again and what may deter them from future partnerships. Kazmer specializes in the life cycles of virtual teams.

"It will be a very interesting experience for me personally and for the many Mag Lab scientists who take part," says laboratory director Greg Boebinger. "Scientists are not accustomed to studying their own research practices, and I'll bet a few of them will not have thought of the possibility of 'researching research' as a strategy for improving research."

From Florida State University
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