Participatory Observation Methods Within Data-Intensive Science: Formal Evaluation and Sociotechnical Insight

Abstract

This paper presents a framework enabling qualitative researchers to gain rich participatory access to study scientific practices within collaborative, funded research projects. Participatory observation methods provide unique access to scientific sites for social studies of science but require authentic and mutually beneficial motivations for qualitative researchers’ participation. We illustrate a successful approach to configuring such collaborations by presenting the case of our participatory observation of an intensive NSF-funded Data-Intensive Science (DIS) training, as members of the evaluation team. We detail how our dual-purpose data collection methods informed both funder-facing evaluation materials and our own subsequent research publications, completed in parallel to the training’s core objectives. We organize our site-specific findings on scientific practice around the themes of Technology, Practices, and Culture. Participatory evaluation of grant-funded science is a rich and under-utilized form of site access for sociotechnical researchers that can facilitate mutually beneficial scientific convergence.

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Citation

Elliott Hauser, Will Sutherland, and Mohammad Hossein Jarrahi. 2024. Participatory Observation Methods Within Data-Intensive Science: Formal Evaluation and Sociotechnical Insight. In 19th International iConference 2024, Changchun, China, April 15–26, 2024, Proceedings, Part I. Springer-Verlag, Berlin, Heidelberg, 253–269. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-031-57850-2_19