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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Coordinative Entities: Forms of Organizing in Data Intensive Science

  • Author(s): Paine, D;
  • Lee, CP
  • et al.

Scientific collaboration is a long-standing subject of CSCW scholarship that typically focuses on the development and use of computing systems to facilitate research. The research presented in this article investigates the sociality of science by identifying and describing particular, common forms of organizing that researchers in four different scientific realms employ to conduct work in both local contexts and as part of distributed, global projects. This paper introduces five prototypical forms of organizing we categorize as coordinative entities: the Principal Group, Intermittent Exchange, Sustained Aggregation, Federation, and Facility Organization. Coordinative entities as a categorization help specify, articulate, compare, and trace overlapping and evolving arrangements scientists use to facilitate data intensive research. We use this typology to unpack complexities of data intensive scientific collaboration in four cases, showing how scientists invoke different coordinative entities across three types of research activities: data collection, processing, and analysis. Our contribution scrutinizes the sociality of scientific work to illustrate how these actors engage in relational work within and among diverse, dispersed forms of organizing across project, funding, and disciplinary boundaries.

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