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Date:; May 29, 2014
Place: FL 2 - Room 1001
Speaker: William C. Barley, PhD Candidate
Department of Communication Studies
How Data Representation Constrains and Enables Applied Weather Research
We are seeing an increased prevalence of weather researchers performing science in partnership with industry and government organizations. Although applied partnerships can be appealing for a number of reasons (e.g. tech transfer, funding, access to unique data), these relationships also produce numerous communication challenges. Chief among these challenges is the need for scientists and engineers to make findings applicable to external collaborators while protecting their ability to perform meaningful research. Data representations, such as weather plots, charts, and graphs, often play a central role in meeting this need by displaying the output of scientific work in a manner that is useful to collaborators. Drawing on data from a yearlong observational study of applied research teams at NCAR, this talk will explore the strategies that researchers used to produce effective data representations.
Contrary to the common belief that representations are “end products” that simply display scientific work, I found that the applied representations most effective in supporting collaboration resulted from strategies integrated deeply into the research process. Put simply, researchers began thinking about their representations long before they performed analyses and built NWP models. I will show how researchers’ need to represent forecast model output to their collaborators led them to adapt the scientific practices that produced those models in the first place. In some ways, these adaptations constrained researchers’ work by, for example, limiting the research questions they could address. In other ways, these efforts served to protect researchers’ work autonomy. In both cases, my findings show that strategies of representation were central to making partnerships successful. To close, I will discuss how these results challenge how we might think about applied collaboration and outline some implications for practice and policy.
This seminar will be Webcast - Webcast Link