Week 6 – Collaboration Readiness

Olson, Gary M., Stephanie  Teasley, Matthew J. Bietz, and Derrick L. Cogburn. “Collaboratories to Support Distributed Science: The Example of International HIV/AIDS Research.” In SAICSIT ’02 Proceedings of the 2002 Annual Research Conference of the South African Institute of Computer Scientists and Information Technologists on Enablement Through Technology, 44-51. South African Institute for Computer Scientists and Information Technologists, Republic of South Africa, 2002.


Olson, Teasley, Bietz, and Cogburn focus on the realm of international HIV/AIDS research to discuss the possibilities and limitations of collaboration in the age of globalization.  The findings of these four researchers indicate that “not all communities are ready for collaborator technologies” but that there are three dimensions that must be considered first:  collaboration readiness, collaboration infrastructure readiness, and collaboration technology readiness (45).  Collaboration readiness sets the groundwork for a successful collaborator project.  This involves pre-specified “rules of the road” in terms of “how data [will] be shared” and well as already having “an infrastructure for creating data repositories” (45).  Additionally, collaboration infrastructure readiness is necessary to ensure that that technology and the technical support is available to everyone involved.  Finally, collaboration technology readiness is essential to give all members of a collaborator project access to merge data and share information.  Some of these collaborative technologies include e-mails attachments, discussion databases, application sharing, and desktop video. Those these technologies may seem old-hat to many of us in the United States, much of this technology “is still emerging in many communities” (46).

In the instance of the HIV/AIDS research, there are many factors to consider regarding whether or not the collaboration will be successful.  The various organization need to have common ground in order to appropriately deal with ethical norms which tend to be culturally specific (49).  Infrastructure differences need to be addressed as well because “even when the networks are working perfectly, social, organizational, or political factors may influence the adoption of several technologies” (49).  Additionally, there must be appropriate training and guidance in order to enable collaboration technology readiness.

This article gives some depth to the ideas discussed last week regarding collaboration in research, specifically within the scientific community.  Though I knew that collaboration was common in the scientific realm, it was helpful for me to read about how this practically occurs across not only various organization but also across various continents.  I believe that the technical writing field should take note of how these scientific communities work toward collaboration and how it positively affects their work.  Incorporating some of these practices, especially the three standards to determine collaboration readiness, would greatly facilitate the possibility for increased collaboration in the field of technical writing.

Why has collaborator research been a consistent part of scientific field while it’s been minimal in the realm of technical communication?


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