CICEET created this resources page so that applicants will know what reviewers will be looking for with regard to collaborative methods, and to provide some basic information on how to protect intellectual property.
Collaborative Research Resources
Intellectual Property Resources
Collaborative Research Resources
CICEET created this resource so that applicants will know what reviewers will be looking for with regard to collaborative methods. Since many NERRS staff have experience in collaborative methods, CICEET’s goal is to provide general information for those applicants who may be less familiar with collaborative research methods.
Collaborative Research Definition
The term “collaborative research” refers to the process in which researchers, intended users, and relevant stakeholders work together to define the research problem or issue; design the appropriate research approach; interpret results and implications; and disseminate research results to the appropriate individuals and organizations.
Why CICEET Emphasizes Collaborative Research
CICEET is interested in funding research that results in applicable solutions to priority coastal management problems. To this end, CICEET has become more firmly committed to a collaborative approach to research because intended user and relevant stakeholder involvement is critical to the real world application of research results. Studies (e.g., Cash et al. 2002, 2003; Jacobs et al. 2005; NRC 2006) have shown that the effective linking of research to decision making depends on the research process being perceived by intended users and relevant stakeholders as the following:
1) credible, i.e., of high quality
2) relevant, i.e., accounts for technical/non-technical contexts of intended users
3) legitimate, i.e., uses a democratic process that duly considers ideas/opinions of intended users and relevant stakeholders
These same studies have also shown that making research credible, relevant, and legitimate takes hard work, resources, and, especially, expertise. In most situations, the expertise that is most useful relates to communication, translation, and mediation: skills many researchers and intended users lack.
Essential Ingredients of the Collaborative Process
Reviewers will consider the following essential ingredients of the collaborative process when they evaluate your proposal:
1) An explicit plan—grounded in experience and/or the literature—for increasing the credibility, relevance, and legitimacy of the research process through the structured interaction of researchers, intended users, and relevant stakeholders at each stage of the research project. These stages include problem definition, research design, research implementation, results interpretation, and dissemination of results to intended users and relevant stakeholders.
2) A clear rationale—grounded in the literature—for determining whether to use a neutral facilitator to broker communications between researchers and intended users.
Collaborative Research Models
The following commonly used collaborative research models are good examples of the level of rigor for which reviewers will be looking. You are not required to use these models, in fact, they may not be appropriate for your project. Those not familiar with these models may think they are more appropriate for environmental conflict situations, as opposed to technology research. However, CICEET’s anecdotal experience—supported by the literature—has been that many excellent technical ideas are not applied because of the failure to recognize the importance of considering the different values of intended users in the research process. Therefore, we believe that these models—either in their existing form or in a scaled down form—are appropriate to applied technological research.
1) Consensus Building Model
Consensus Building is a process of seeking unanimous agreement that involves a good-faith effort to meet the interests of all stakeholders (Susskind 1999). The main structure of a consensus building approach is Joint Fact Finding (JFF), which has six steps, all of which occur collaboratively with researchers, intended users, and relevant stakeholders. The steps are as follows:
- Prepare to convene a JFF effort, e.g., understand how JFF fits into the process and document interests of stakeholders.
- Scope the problem, i.e., generate technical questions, existing knowledge, and gaps in knowledge.
- Define data collection/analysis methods and assess costs and benefits of different approaches.
- Conduct the research.
- Evaluate results, e.g., compare findings to literature and translate findings into policy responses.
- Communicate research results.
For more on consensus building and JFF, go to the web site for MUSIC (the MIT/USGS Science Impact Collaborative) at: http://web.mit.edu/dusp/epp/music/
2) Collaborative Learning Model
Redefining the task as improving a situation rather than solving a problem;
Viewing the situation as a set of interrelated systems;
Defining improvement as desirable and feasible change;
Recognizing that considerable learning—about science, issues, and value differences—will have to occur before improvements are possible.
For more on collaborative learning: http://oregonstate.edu/instruct/comm440-540/CL2pager.htm
The Collaborative Learning model is appropriate for natural resource, environmental, and community decision-making situations that have the following characteristics: multiple parties, deeply held values, cultural differences, multiple issues, scientific and technical uncertainty, and legal and jurisdictional constraints. It emphasizes activities that encourage systems thinking, joint learning, open communication, constructive conflict management, and a focus on appropriate change. Key concepts of Collaborative Learning include the following:
Relevant and Cited Literature
Cash, D.W., W.C. Clark, F. Alcock, N.M. Dickson, N. Eckley, D.H. Guston, J. Jager, and R.B. Mitchell. 2003. Knowledge systems for sustainable development. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 100:8086-8091.
Cash, D.W., W.C. Clark, F. Alcock, N.M. Dickson, N. Eckley, J. Jager, and R.B. Mitchell. 2002. Salience, credibility, legitimacy and boundaries: linking research, assessment and decision making. John F. Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University, Faculty Research Working Paper Series.
Daniels, S.E., and G.B. Walker. 2001. Working through Environmental Conflict: The Collaborative Learning Approach. Westport, CT: Praeger Publishers.
Karl, H.A, L.E. Susskind, and K.H. Wallace. 2007. A dialogue, not a diatribe: effective integration of science and policy through joint fact finding. Environment 49:20-34.
Jacobs, K. 2002. Connecting science, policy, and decision making: a handbook for researchers and science agencies. http://www.ogp.noaa.gov/mpe/csi/doc/hdbk.pdf
Jacobs, K., G. Garfin, and M. Lenart. 2005. Connecting science and decision making. Environment 47:8-21.
National Research Council (NRC). 2006. Linking knowledge with action for sustainable development: The role of program management -- summary of a workshop. Roundtable on Science and Technology for Sustainability. Washington, DC: National Academies Press.
Susskind, L. 1999. A short guide to consensus building. In The Consensus Building Handbook: A Comprehensive Guide to Reaching Agreement, ed. L. Susskind, S. McKearnan, and J. Thomas-Larmer, 3-57. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications.
Intellectual Property Resources
In some instances, commercialization is the most efficient means of disseminating knowledge or technology. In others cases, a non-commercial approach may be more appropriate. Since the dissemination pathway is often not clear at the outset of a project, CICEET strongly suggests that you take the following steps to protect your technology’s intellectual property at the proposal stage. By doing this, you will be able to talk freely about your invention and avoid the inadvertent loss of intellectual property rights.
Step 1: Take steps to protect your intellectual property as soon as possible so that you can discuss your research with colleagues in a manner that does not restrict your ability to choose the most appropriate dissemination path. If you receive funding, CICEET will ask you to discuss your research at a meeting with colleagues, coastal managers, and industry representatives.
Step 2: Do not make assumptions about the commercialization value of your work. In our experience, researchers often make assumptions about the intellectual property process that are inaccurate.
Step 3: Talk to your institution’s Office of Technology Transfer, or its Office of Intellectual Property. Determine the proper approach to intellectual property protection for your technology. This could include any of the following: prior-art research and determination of patentability; pursuit of “confidential and proprietary information”; pursuit of copyright; or no intellectual property protection steps whatsoever. (Please note: The title page you will submit with your proposal comes with a confidentiality statement. Please review it and contact us with any questions.)
Step 4: Until talking with one of the specialists recommended in Step 3, do not disclose your idea in a public setting. “Disclosure” entails giving enough information—verbally or in written/graphic form—for a person “skilled in the art” to reproduce your invention.