Accepted Paper:

Towards understanding 'collaborative excellence' and its implications for science policy  


Inga Ulnicane (De Montfort University)

Paper short abstract:

While science policy often focusses on individual excellence, majority of research today is collaborative. This paper suggests concept of ‘collaborative excellence’, explores practices and governance mechanisms supporting it, and discusses implications for science policy, funding and evaluation.

Paper long abstract:

'If one wants to work in a collaborative research project, he should be willing to share his knowledge and should be willing to understand that the progress of research might be risky in a sense that it comes from the team, it does not come from individual. […] I personally do not care if a discovery in [our collaborative project] is done by my group or is done by other group. […] What interests me is success of [our collaborative project], the success of our community and that we do something new and discover something.'

This quote from a group leader and collaborative project leader in nanosciences demonstrates how much scientific excellence is a team effort. While majority of research in STEM disciplines is collaborative (Bozeman and Boardman 2014), policies for evaluating and funding excellent science still tend to favor individual excellence, for example, assuming that co-authored publications should have a lead author who should receive more credit or that science prizes should be allocated to individuals. Against this background, this paper suggests a concept of 'collaborative excellence'. On the basis of extensive research on scientific collaborations (Ulnicane 2015), it explores how high quality research is generated, organized and evaluated within networks. Questions addressed include: What science practices, policy mechanisms and governance arrangements support and hamper 'collaborative excellence'? What is relationship between 'individual' and 'collaborative' excellence? What indicators could be useful in evaluating 'collaborative excellence'? Implications for science policy, funding and evaluation will be discussed.

Panel T020
Governing Excellent Science