CLUSTER TERMINOLOGIES FOR PROMOTING INTERDISCIPLINARY SCIENTIFIC COOPERATION IN CLUSTERS OF EXCELLENCE
RWTH Aachen University (GERMANY)
About this paper:
Appears in: INTED2013 Proceedings
Publication year: 2013
Conference name: 7th International Technology, Education and Development Conference
Dates: 4-5 March, 2013
Location: Valencia, Spain
Abstract:Scientific collaborations are getting more and more complex and interdisciplinary, which is even demanded by many research funding sources. A good example for this are the clusters of excellence supported by the German Research Foundation. These are networks of many local institutions investigating one big research question from many perspectives. At RWTH Aachen University there is the cluster of excellence “Integrative Production Technology in High-Wage Countries”, where around 120 researchers from more than 20 different disciplines work together. In such networks it is important to have structures that support the collaboration, exchange and networking of researchers and the information exchange among them to ensure efficient collaboration and to reveal potential synergies.
There already exists a variety of tools to assist collaboration and information dissemination in large businesses. However, we lack software tailored to the specific needs of scientific collaboration structures. This demand we want to meet with a Scientific Cooperation Platform (SCP) for the whole cluster of excellence. Here members can find all information they need for their daily work, e.g. about colleagues, events, publications and other research progress as well as applications supporting their collaboration.
One main challenge in such interdisciplinary cooperations poses the understanding between different scientific fields. The SCP will help cluster members to cope with terminologies deviating significantly from each other in different scientific fields. Internal and external communication of the cluster will become more consistent as soon as awareness arises of the fact that there can be many definitions for the same term. Such ambiguities are often sources for misunderstandings in cooperative work.
Our first goal is to capture the current state of terminologies in the cluster by gathering and visualizing information about which terms (e.g. for objects, principles or methodologies) are used with what definition by whom in the cluster. Members can then gain an insight into how certain terms are used by their colleagues. This will raise awareness of where cooperation like interdisciplinary publications can lead to misunderstandings or the necessity to clarify a common terminology beforehand.
A second step will be to foster discussions about the terminology among the cluster members both in an informal manner as well as in specific workshops targeting this topic. Definitions for some terms will become clearer in this process, which can even lead to an “official” cluster-wide definition. For other terms, that simply have significantly different meanings in different research fields, maybe at least an agreement among members from the same field can be achieved. However, for these terms the main benefit in the SCP and its functionality lies in the advanced understanding of the differing terminologies among the members of the cluster of excellence.
Keywords: Knowledge Engineering, Knowledge Management, Cluster Terminologies, Interdisciplinary Scientific Cooperation, Cluster Management.