New insights into food safety research teams

Reza Sattari, Julia I. Lane, Jason Owen-Smith

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

Abstract

Overview Research is done by people – and typically by people organized into research teams. In many ways, the production of science is like any business, and the principal investigator is like the CEO of a firm producing scientific ideas. This chapter examines the way in which food safety research teams are organized and how they differ from or are similar to teams in other scientific areas. The data also allow us to describe the funding sources for food safety teams. Finally, this chapter describes the nature of the networks that are formed by interactions among food safety researchers, particularly interactions among different types of researchers they work with, relative to other fields. Understanding the productivity and effects of university research in food safety requires one to measure and characterize the structure of the teams on which the research depends. Differences in structure should matter. Most research-intensive institutions have departments and programs that cover similar arrays of topics and areas of study, and what distinguishes them from one another is not the topics they cover, but the ways in which their distinctive collaboration networks lead them to have very different scientific capabilities (1). In particular, it seems obvious that different groupings of faculty, graduate and undergraduate students, postdoctoral researchers, and staff scientists will result in very different ways in which ideas are created, transmitted, and adopted (2). The first step is to characterize the nature of a team. This can be done in many ways; this chapter defines teams as those working on a given grant. Such an approach has a number of advantages, such as the ability to describe the proportion of graduate students and postdocs on a particular team and compare them with other teams. Similarly, the demographic composition of the teams can be explored, for example, the proportion who are female and the proportion who are foreign-born (3, 4). This will show how much heterogeneity there is in the “production function” of scientific activity and thus make it possible to examine the effects on scientific productivity.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationMeasuring the Economic Value of Research
Subtitle of host publicationThe Case of Food Safety
PublisherCambridge University Press
Pages113-127
Number of pages15
ISBN (Electronic)9781316671788
ISBN (Print)9781107159693
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 1 2017

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ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Sciences(all)

Cite this

Sattari, R., Lane, J. I., & Owen-Smith, J. (2017). New insights into food safety research teams. In Measuring the Economic Value of Research: The Case of Food Safety (pp. 113-127). Cambridge University Press. https://doi.org/10.1017/9781316671788.008