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This is a sociological study of the Science of Purpose Project (SoPP; JTF 62220), which seeks to develop a new science of purpose. The SoPP consists of 25 sub-projects in 7 clusters. The sub-projects are highly interdisciplinary, and are based at universities in several countries. Since interdisciplinary projects are becoming routine ways of organizing research, it is important to develop a detailed understanding of the ways in which such projects can carry out their work effectively and reliably. The SoPP thus serves as an opportunity to learn about the factors which influence such large, distributed, interdisciplinary projects. In particular, we will examine the epistemic contingencies involved in the intellectual integration of multiple specialties, the organizational arrangements which affect cooperative distributed projects, and the conduct of shared jurisdictions which arise when different lines of work come together.
To do this, the study will observe meetings of the research staffs; compile and analyze documents associated with the sub-projects and the project as a whole; conduct open interviews with the central staff of the SoPP, the cluster coordinators, sub-project senior investigators, advisors, and other participants as appropriate; and survey all participants in the project to collect structured data on connections among participants.
The study will produce a report summarizing its conduct and findings; several presentations to learned societies in philosophy, social science, and biology; and refereed articles on the work of the study and the analytical conclusions drawn from it.
The study will result in a deeper understanding of the relationships among intellectual and organizational aspects of multi-disciplinary research, and will thus aid scientists, research administrators, funding agencies, and planners in working with an increasingly important aspect of the research process.