Strategies for Managing Team-Based Research

by Howard Aldrich and Akram Al-turk

The scientific community celebrates individual achievements by conferring prestige and honors on scientists who win out in the competitive game of being the first to publish innovative research. Paradoxically, however, modern scientific expertise rests heavily upon work carried out by teams, rather than scholars working on their own. Tensions between the forces of competition and cooperation thus infuse every aspect of scholarly activities: grant writing, publishing, leadership in scientific organizations, and so forth. Thus, it is understandable that graduate students and junior scholars would be perplexed by how to manage such tensions.

We believe the key to successful collaborative relationships lies in preparing for them ahead of time, rather than attempting to deal with problems as they arise. In fact, some research suggests that the effectiveness of collaborative work is determined before any of the work is carried out. We have identified four structural elements that increase the likelihood of creating and sustaining collaborative relationships.

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Social Scientists should comment on EEOC pay data collection plan

by Donald Tomaskovic-Devey

The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) has opened with the Federal Register a second and final 20 day comment period on the expansion of private sector employer data collection to include pay data. These pay data will make it possible for social scientists, the EEOC and other regulators to observe workplace specific gender and racial pay gaps.

Please go to the Federal Register and submit your recommendations.

In the first comment period social scientists were almost entirely absent. The business community, however, were quite active arguing that these data were not needed, overly burdensome, or with little value. In fact, there are no alternative general population workplace level sources of data on earnings inequalities for the U.S., the burden is light because most employers have digitized personnel systems already capable of producing these data, and the value to the regulatory and scientific community are immense.

I am asking all social scientists who understand the importance of identifying the organizational sources of pay inequalities to weigh in during this second and last comment period. You can read the proposed data collection, previous comments and weigh in with your expert opinion here:

https://www.federalregister.gov/articles/2016/07/14/2016-16692/agency-information-collection-activities-notice-of-submission-for-omb-review-final-comment-request

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Use the norm of reciprocity to get constructive feedback on your work

By Howard Aldrich

In popular fiction, authors are often portrayed as isolated and tortured souls, locked away in a garret apartment or in a cabin in the forest, producing their great works without benefit of human companionship. In reality, writing is an extremely social activity, highly dependent upon an individual’s network of family and friends. Peer networks play in a particularly important role in moving writing from solipsistic doodling to prose that others want to read. Let me suggest one way in which social relationships are critical: finding people willing to offer critically constructive feedback on the work.

When your draft is completed, how will you know what reception it will receive from the intended readers? When I talk to academic writers about this question, I point out that the most risky action an author can take is to submit to a journal a paper that no one else has yet read. Although it seems incredibly shortsighted, I often talk to people who’ve done exactly that – – they claim that they really couldn’t find anybody they thought would be a good reviewer. Thus, to get feedback on their work, they plunged ahead and sent it out for review.

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