Collaboration between experts in a multi-disciplinary setting is very challenging. Chemists, historians, programmers, engineers, psychologists, all have different theoretical foundations and approaches to problems. Even more challenging is to allow experts to drift from their comfort zones and explore new problem spaces. This is a step beyond the multi-disciplinary to the trans-disciplinary. The topic of efficient trans-disciplinary collaboration is extremely relevant but has been under-explored in the context of academic research. While the industry has actively improved in its methods for performing research and development as well as producing innovation by putting mixed teams of specialists to work together, academia has had a hard time following. Among different goals and economic factors, the structure of academia and its form of output can be highlighted. The industry outputs products with the direct involvement of stakeholders, while academic research outputs papers through peer reviews. Focusing on developing artifacts of research, such as visualization prototypes, is a promising way to think about collaborative research. Since this process involves dealing with the data, users, and tasks of the target domain, it can effectively produce insights and scientific knowledge.
Our aim is to investigate new research methodologies to facilitate collaboration between different domains through the construction of research artifacts. We borrow product design methods and techniques from different fields, such as design by immersion and gamestorming. “Guerrilla Research” is used to invoke the idea of a small yet efficient team of researchers leveraging tactical advantage through flexibility. We take advantage of the current data-centered research paradigm to explore how trans-disciplinary scientific contributions can be derived mainly through data visualization and strategies for exposition and articulation of results, and how this can be structured as a research process.
The goal is not only to join social scientists, historians, engineers, and computer scientists, to work together, but rather achieve that social scientists can think like engineers, computer scientists can think like historians, and so on. Research questions include:
- How to adapt agile methodologies to academia and the research process in general?
- How to apply design by immersion in practice?
- How to conduct a research process through design and implementation of a visualization prototype?
- How to estimate the potential contributions of visualization prototypes?
Google Arts and Culture is a very good example of what can be achieved through trans-disciplinary collaboration, and their experiment page showcases their developed research artifacts. Furthermore, interactive articles, which are explored in a different research topic of mine are also good candidates for research prototypes.