Interdisciplinary Collaboration and Team Science Workshop

Researchers from all professorships of the NCCR Digital Fabrication met for the NCCR dfab Interdisciplinary Collaboration Workshop. In various exercises, researchers explored their "Individual Collaboration Readiness” and began setting up their Collaboration Plan for projects.

Teamwork is vital for interdisciplinary research, but how do researchers with diverse disciplinary, linguistic, and cultural backgrounds successfully engage with each other? To support the strengthening of collaboration, an internal Team Science Workshop was organised by Prof. Gudela Grote (Chair of Work and Organizational Psychology) and led by doctoral candidate Aniko Kahlert.

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Within the workshop, researchers from all professorships of the NCCR dfab learned to evaluate their own collaboration skills, exchanged ideas about improving exchange, and developed partnerships in a guided setting. Through exercises, researchers dealt with their "Individual Collaboration Readiness" as positioned their own role in the team. The workshop included break-out groups related to the four Focus Topic of the NCCR dfab, in which plans for potential projects were elaborated. Workshop leader Aniko Kahlert concluded the session with three tips for participants on how they can better engage in interdisciplinary collaboration.

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Tip 1: Know your own profile

Be aware of your core discipline, where your strengths lie and what expertise you can contribute. Don't be afraid to ask for opinions and feedback from experienced colleagues, as they may see strengths and skills that you are not aware of. By knowing your own competences, you can more easily engage in teamwork with other experts, and collectively it becomes possible to resolve wicked problems and develop complex solutions.

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Tip 2: Be proactive

Understand the context of your own research question and match it with the questions and challenges being faced by others to develop comprehensive solutions. Use existing materials (e.g., annual reports, website entries, etc.) to review similar problems and find experts within insight that can support you. Cultivate an active dialogue with your peers and your professor with the aim of deepening your understanding and refining your research questions.

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Tip 3: Create common ground

A shared understanding of the problem and goals, and a common working language will facilitate collaboration within a team. Initiate projects by ensuring that terminology and vocabulary are understood, that communications are clear, and that researchers also understand each other’s work interests and academic goals. Take time during a project to reflect on the coordination of the team, and review processes and actions to guide the group through shared milestones towards the ultimate project goals.

The Reasearcher Team Meetings are a regular event at which NCCR dfab researchers give colleagues an insight into their work. The events are organised by the NCCR dfab Management Team and take place at the ITA.