Perceived discontinuities and continuities in transdisciplinary scientific working groups

Kevin Crowston, Alison Specht, Carol Hoover, Katherine M. Chudoba, Mary Beth Watson-Manheim

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

30 Scopus citations


We examine the DataONE (Data Observation Network for Earth) project, a transdisciplinary organization tasked with creating a cyberinfrastructure platform to ensure preservation of and access to environmental science and biological science data. Its objective was a difficult one to achieve, requiring innovative solutions. The DataONE project used a working group structure to organize its members. We use organizational discontinuity theory as our lens to understand the factors associated with success in such projects. Based on quantitative and qualitative data collected from DataONE members, we offer recommendations for the use of working groups in transdisciplinary synthesis. Recommendations include welcome diverse opinions and world views, establish shared communication practices, schedule periodic synchronous face-to-face meetings, and ensure the active participation of bridge builders or knowledge brokers such as librarians who know how to ask questions about disciplines not their own.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)159-172
Number of pages14
JournalScience of the Total Environment
StatePublished - Nov 15 2015


  • Boundaries
  • Continuities
  • Discontinuities
  • Organization theory
  • Transdisciplinary synthesis
  • Working groups

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Environmental Engineering
  • Environmental Chemistry
  • Waste Management and Disposal
  • Pollution


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