OPTIMISATION OF COLLABORATIVE KNOWLEDGE-BUILDING IN THE COMMUNITY OF SCIENTISTS BY THE DEVELOPMENT OF A COMMUNITY OF PRACTICE IN THE DOMAIN OF ANALYTICAL CHEMISTRY

J. Jesionkowska, B. Denis

University of Liege (BELGIUM)
This paper describes research done in the scope of doctoral project. The aim of this project is to define the conditions to create a virtual space for collaborative learning, discussion and professional development for researchers working in the area of analytical chemistry (practitioners involved in a training program).

Promoting affiliation between scientists is relatively easy, but creating larger organizational structures is much more difficult, due to traditions of scientific independence, difficulties of sharing implicit knowledge, and formal organizational barriers.

A solution could be found in creating a better culture of knowledge sharing and collaboration through developing a virtual community of practice between these professionals. Scientists who are geographically dispersed could work together using appropriate technology to access each other. They would have the opportunity to interact, share the experience, search specific information in the area of their interest, map the knowledge and identify the gaps, solve the problems together, seek for experience and coordinate shared projects.

This project is a case study. We use specific case of a TrainMiC group to provide insight into a particular situation - collaborative learning in the group of scientists. TrainMiC is a group of analytical chemists involved in a European-wide training programme in metrology in chemistry. Mixed-methods approach was used combining data from content analysis, interviews and questionnaires. Coordinators, members and candidates were involved in the study. The results show that TrainMiC community helps to build relationships and network with others, it motivates to share work-related knowledge, represents an area of common interest for organisation, but also that it is mainly driven by the willingness of members and is lacking instruments to share ideas.

Networks and virtual communities provide a new model for connecting people in the spirit of learning, knowledge sharing, and collaboration as well as individual, group, and organizational development. But the concept of the community of practice is still lacking in theory how CoPs work there is still little research about how groups, and individuals in groups, can be supported to engage in, sustain, and productively regulate collaborative processes. Hence there is a need to research possibilities in the area of sciences.