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Patterns of collaboration in complex networks: The example of a translational research network

Long, Janet, Cunningham, Frances C., Carswell, Peter and Braithwaite, Jeffrey (2014). Patterns of collaboration in complex networks: The example of a translational research network. BMC Health Services Research,14(Article No. 225).

Document type: Journal Article
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ARC Grant No. DP 0986493
IRMA ID 75039815xPUB313
Title Patterns of collaboration in complex networks: The example of a translational research network
Author Long, Janet
Cunningham, Frances C.
Carswell, Peter
Braithwaite, Jeffrey
Journal Name BMC Health Services Research
Publication Date 2014
Volume Number 14
Issue Number Article No. 225
ISSN 1472-6963   (check CDU catalogue  open catalogue search in new window)
Scopus ID 2-s2.0-84901590524
Total Pages 10
Place of Publication United Kingdom
Publisher BioMed Central Ltd.
HERDC Category C1 - Journal Article (DIISR)
Abstract Background
This paper examines collaboration in a complex translational cancer research network (TRN) made up of a range of hospital-based clinicians and university-based researchers. We examine the phenomenon of close-knit and often introspective clusters of people (silos) and test the extent that factors associated with this clustering (geography, profession and past experience) influence patterns of current and future collaboration on TRN projects. Understanding more of these patterns, especially the gaps or barriers between members, will help network leaders to manage subgroups and promote connectivity crucial to efficient network function.

Methods

An on-line, whole network survey was used to collect attribute and relationship data from all members of the new TRN based in New South Wales, Australia in early 2012. The 68 members were drawn from six separate hospital and university campuses. Social network analysis with UCInet tested the effects of geographic proximity, profession, past research experience, strength of ties and previous collaborations on past, present and future intended partnering.

Results

Geographic proximity and past working relationships both had significant effects on the choice of current collaboration partners. Future intended collaborations included a significant number of weak ties and ties based on other members’ reputations implying that the TRN has provided new opportunities for partnership. Professional grouping, a significant barrier discussed in the translational research literature, influenced past collaborations but not current or future collaborations, possibly through the mediation of network brokers.

Conclusions

Since geographic proximity is important in the choice of collaborators a dispersed network such as this could consider enhancing cross site interactions by improving virtual communication technology and use, increasing social interactions apart from project related work, and maximising opportunities to meet members from other sites. Key network players have an important brokerage role facilitating linkages between groups.

Keywords Network theory
Collaboration
Translational research
Proximity
Brokerage
Health
Silos
Interorganisational alliances
Collaboratives for leadership in applied health research and care (CLAHRCs)
DOI http://dx.doi.org/10.1186/1472-6963-14-225   (check subscription with CDU E-Gateway service for CDU Staff and Students  check subscription with CDU E-Gateway in new window)
Additional Notes This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License 2.0, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.
Description for Link Link to CC Attribution 2.0 License
URL https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0


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