Post-genomic science: cross-disciplinary and large-scale collaborative research and its organizational and technological challenges for the scientific research process

Elaine Welsh, Marina Jirotka, David Gavaghan
Philosophical Transactions. Series A, Mathematical, Physical, and Engineering Sciences 2006 June 15, 364 (1843): 1533-49
We examine recent developments in cross-disciplinary science and contend that a 'Big Science' approach is increasingly evident in the life sciences-facilitated by a breakdown of the traditional barriers between academic disciplines and the application of technologies across these disciplines. The first fruits of 'Big Biology' are beginning to be seen in, for example, genomics, (bio)-nanotechnology and systems biology. We suggest that this has profound implications for the research process and presents challenges both in technological design, in the provision of infrastructure and training, in the organization of research groups, and in providing suitable research funding mechanisms and reward systems. These challenges need to be addressed if the promise of this approach is to be fully realized. In this paper, we will draw on the work of social scientists to understand how these developments in science and technology relate to organizational culture, organizational change and the context of scientific work. We seek to learn from previous technological developments that seemed to offer similar potential for organizational and social change.


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