Large and distributed science projects present researchers with a challenging environment for interaction and collaboration. While digital technologies offer promises in supporting these difficulties, researchers appear reluctant to discontinue their use of analogue resources. We present a study of communication practices in very large-scale collaborative scientific research programmes that involve multidisciplinary and multinational research consortia. Qualitative data collection with researchers, principal investigators and project coordinators were carried out to examine the conduct and coordination of biological, biomedical and chemistry experiments that were distributed over multiple geographical locations. Results show that many problems in collaboration appear to result from the collective documentation of experimental operating procedures, tracking of experimental samples, and the sharing and cross-association of physical and digital experimental materials. Our analysis highlights the crucial but problematic role of the laboratory notebook as a driver for collaboration, most notably in supporting traceability of the distributed experimental process. We identify opportunities for improving experimental coordination, scientific communication and project synchronisation, drawing implications for digital interaction design that offers opportunities to enhance research coordination.
|Keywords||Collaboration, communication, distributed interaction, research, scientific practice, experimental coordination, laboratory notebook, design.|