Study of Collaborations Nears Completion
The AIP Center's long-term Study of Multi-Institutional Collaborations, investigating the problems that face archivists and others responsible for documenting these transitory organizations, is coming to an end, although not as rapidly as we expected (see this Newsletter, Spring 1977). Staff changes have included the departure of the Project Archivist for a job elsewhere, and the retirement of Joan Warnow-Blewett as Center Associate Director; she continues on a part-time basis as Project Director for this study. We now estimate that the final reports will be published next winter.
Despite the delay there has been substantial progress in the study's third and final phase, in which we are studying collaborative research projects in four new areas: ground-based astronomy, materials science, medical physics, and uses of accelerators for heavy-ion and synchrotron radiation research. Our interviews with nearly 90 scientist-participants of 23 selected collaborations have been analyzed for historical, archival, and sociological content. Preliminary findings are in hand, and project staff and consultants have organized sessions and delivered papers at national and international meetings of archival, historical, and sociological societies. Later this year we will hold meetings of groups of archivists and of scientist-administrators with extensive experience in collaborative research in the various areas under study, including the fields of high-energy physics, space science, and geophysics which were covered in earlier phases of the study.
Final reports will include a typology for multi-institutional collaborations with descriptions of organizational features; we have found that the challenges of documentation have more to do with the type of organization of a particular collaboration than with its scientific specialty. Our reports will also give guidelines for records appraisal, and policy recommendations. For further information contact Joan Warnow-Blewett, AIP Center Archivist Emeritus and Project Director, via the Center for History of Physics.