Earth Science Informatics

, Volume 4, Issue 2, pp 55–68 | Cite as

Collaborative, cross-disciplinary learning and co-emergent innovation in eScience teams

  • Deana D. Pennington
Research Article


Collaborative eScience research teams are impeded by difficulties defining problems that provide research opportunities for all participants. Problem formulation occurs early in the collaboration process when the demand for ideas is high. However, cross-disciplinary linkages and integrated conceptual frameworks from which strong interdisciplinary ideas emerge do not evolve until later. The process of co-creating interdisciplinary research ideas is fundamentally a learning problem; participants from different disciplines must learn enough about each other’s research interests to construct an integrated conceptual framework from which joint problems of interest can be created. However, participants rarely have the conceptual background needed to easily understand research topics in other disciplines; hence methods for enabling rapid learning in these situations are needed. Team interactions that more effectively generate interdisciplinary ideas can be enabled based on a better understanding the process of cross-disciplinary, collaborative learning. This article postulates several models of collaborative learning in these settings and discusses the implications for orchestrating team activities to achieve better outcomes.


eScience Interdisciplinary research Collaboration Science of team science 



This work was supported by National Science Foundation grant numbers OCI-0636317 and OCI-0753336 for the CI-Team Demonstration and Implementation Projects: Advancing Cyber-infrastructure Based Science Through Education, Training, and Mentoring of Science Communities. The author gratefully acknowledges her many collaborators within and outside of these projects who stimulated and enabled development of these concepts.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of Texas at El PasoEl PasoUSA

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