'Dear Friends...' Analysing Socialising Patterns in Online Research Collaboration
School of Innovation Sciences, Eindhoven University of Technology
University of Oxford - Oxford Internet Institute
May, 29 2009
The main theoretical debates on the role of ICTs in distributed teams have been informed by media richness theory: the assumption that ICTs are poor media for a wide range of activities. This paper examines three distributed research teams and focuses on their socialising patterns, addressing whether ICTs "do away with pleasantries", and also what the relationship is between online and offline socialising activities. Using longitudinal real time online data it traces socialising dynamics for a period of more than three years. The results indicate that ICTs played an important role in supporting socialising, which was around a quarter of all team-wide communications. Further, online socialising showed a dynamic independent from face-to-face meetings. The results suggest that recent empirical work is needed to understand the role of ICTs in distributed research teams, as their use matures in some contexts.
Keywords: e-science, socialising, research collaboration, time series analysis, email
Date posted: July 9, 2009