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February 2005

NCAR to survey scientists, engineers

If you’re an NCAR scientist or engineer, you will probably be asked this month to fill out a survey about your professional collaborations.

The NCAR director’s office is working with the Social Science Research Council and Stanford University to analyze the collaboration patterns of NCAR scientific and technical staff. Two social scientists—Diana Rhoten of SSRC and Andrew Parker of Stanford—have designed a series of questions about collaborative activities such as work on research projects and exchanges of scientific and technical advice.

They hope to survey all ladder scientists, associate scientists, project scientists, and engineers, including software engineers.

These groups will be asked to fill out the same survey about 18 months later, and possibly again in 2007. NCAR’s goal is to learn more about collaborative activities and experiences of scientists and engineers, and especially about how the reorganization may influence both internal and external collaborations.

“This is a way to get feedback and learn about how NCAR works, not a way for us to assess you,” Peter Backlund, NCAR director of research relations, told scientists and engineers at a recent meeting. He added that such surveys may be used as an ongoing tool by the director’s office to help foster improved collaborations.

All individual responses will be kept confidential. Diana and Andrew will analyze the data, plot patterns of internal and external collaborations, and present overall findings to NCAR management and staff. If NCAR consents, the survey results may be included in a future published study of scientific collaborations.

The survey takes about 30 to 40 minutes to fill out. It will probably be administered over several weeks during this month and next. The social scientists are hoping for as large a response rate as possible, and they plan to contact eligible staffers by e-mail, phone, and even in person.

Participation is strictly voluntary. But, as Peter said at the meeting, “We hope everyone, as researchers themselves, is going to recognize this is a cool, interesting project and will want to participate.”

-- David Hosansky

On the Web

More about the survey

Also in this issue...

An eye on Washington

ISSE reflections on the tsunami

Random profile: Shu-Peng “Ben” Ho

Short Takes

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