GRAND Network Benefits From Scientific, In-house "Navel Gazing"
GRAND community adopts a self-reflective approach, through the NAVEL project, to track, analyze and improve the network's capacity for multi-disciplinary collaboration.
Posted by GRAND NCE, August 30, 2010

GRAND community adopts a self-reflective approach, through the NAVEL project, to track, analyze and improve the network's capacity for multi-disciplinary collaboration.

NAVEL (Network Assessment and Validation for Effective Leadership) is a self-reflective project within the GRAND Network of Centres of Excellence <link> established to study and improve the network's research and management culture.  NAVEL gazes at GRAND to explore three key questions:  How does the network work? Is it an effective platform for digital media research? And, how can it be improved?

As more organizations move towards a networked approach to conducting research and business, demand for tracking, analysis and establishing a list of best practices will grow.  Findings from NAVEL will be useful not only within the GRAND community but to others engaged in similar initiatives if it can provide insights and understanding of how collaborative research can be effectively supported and managed.

Adopting a Social Network Analysis perspective, NAVEL will facilitate collaboration by monitoring the network as it evolves, demonstrating success, identifying disconnects and untapped opportunities, and improving communication and knowledge transfer by targeted interventions.

A database of information is being collected that will be the starting point from which future data will be compared and analyzed.  Members of the GRAND community representing 32 cross-domain projects will complete a series of comprehensive surveys covering who knows whom in GRAND, who collaborates with whom, who exchanges information and seeks advice of whom, and what media members from across the country use to communicate with each other. Such information will describe the existing connections and activities within GRAND, providing a picture of how the network functions.

The inaugural survey, due September 15, takes about an hour to complete. Following the deadline, there will be random draw prizes to celebrate the completion of phase one of NAVEL.

"GRAND is an ambitious multi-disciplinary network involving hundreds of researchers, graduate students and post-doctoral fellows as well as representatives from industry, government and the non-profit sector," explained GRAND's Scientific Director and University of British Columbia Professor Kellogg Booth. "That's why the survey is challenging; it needs to be a reflection of the network's scope, size and realizable outcomes."

The online survey was created by Professor Barry Wellman, internationally renowned sociologist from the University of Toronto and project leader for NAVEL, Project Manager Dima Dimitrova, the NAVEL project director, GRAND researcher Professor Anatoliy Gruzd from Dalhousie University, and University of Toronto doctoral students Zack Hayat and Mo Guang Ying.

"We deeply appreciate the time, frankness and commitment put into completing the surveys," acknowledged Professor Wellman. "We need to do a survey now to get a baseline to understand how relationships within GRAND are evolving. This knowledge will be priceless in evaluating and improving the connectivity and effectiveness of multidisciplinary and collaborative networks."

"Completing the NAVEL survey is also a way to give back to the community," continued Wellman. "In a sense, participants become "co-authors" of NAVEL's research. As well, and perhaps, more importantly, they play an integral role in evolving GRAND's culture towards one that is as effective and fulfilling as possible."

As Wellman points out, "This benefits everyone."