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Exploring the Barriers and Challenges of Information and Communication Technology Use in Distributed Research Today: A Ranking-type Delphi Study

Boryung Ju and Suzanne Pawlowski

ASIST 2011 Annual Meeting 
New Orleans, LA, October 9-12, 2011


Dramatic improvements in the capabilities and costs of information and communication technologies (ICTs) in recent years have presented new opportunities for the conduct of distributed scientific collaboration. At the same time, the complex interplay of technical, social and organizational issues has also created significant new challenges in the use of ICTs for scientific work. In this paper we present an exploratory, "ranking-type" Delphi survey to understand the types of barriers and challenges that scientists are encountering today in their use of ICTs for distributed research. We also investigate whether there are major differences in the barriers to ICT use experienced by scientists in the domains of 'hard' (natural) sciences and engineering, and the behavioral and social sciences. For the study, we elicited and organized the opinions of 24 expert panelists through an online survey (e-Delphi). A rank-order list of 27 major issues was identified, and ranked lists of the top 14 issues in each research domain with a discussion of commonalities and differences. The results of our study point to important issues for future research in CSSC/CSCW and for the practice of distributed research collaboration.

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