Dissertation working draft



The cooperation and coordination of different scientific cultures is increasingly important in contemporary research settings. This especially true in the earth sciences where the sharing and reuse of others data, software, instruments, and infrastructures is necessary to comprehensively study interconnected physical systems. Information Science has traditionally studied the phenomena of sharing research objects either private goods, applying behavioral economic principles to their management, or common pool resources, which position policies to encourage sharing as a cultural "conundrum."

This dissertation addresses problems of collective action that result from the sharing and pooling of climate science research objects managed as public goods. Through a case study of a long-standing project, the International Comprehensive Ocean and Atmosphere Dataset (ICOADS), I describe how cooperation in producing and managing public goods has been sustained amongst diversely motivated groups over a thirty year period; and how recent political events have impacted this community. I argue that current models of organizing and funding institutions for collective action fail to accommodate a form of knowledge production that depends upon the pooling and sharing of resources across traditional institutional and organizational boundaries, and that the differences between private goods, common-pool resources and public goods are critical to addressing these problems through policy development.

Drawing on past studies of governance structures for cooperative land management and physical resource pooling I propose a framework that will support the comparative and longitudinal study of the types of complex sociotechnical systems required to support collective action in the earth sciences. I apply this framework to ICOADS, and discuss its success and limitations as a diagnostic tool.

The overarching thesis of this dissertation is that peer production and the shared management of research objects as public goods are an increasingly important feature of successful cooperatives found in systems-based sciences. If future science and technology policies are to move beyond simple panaceas for the sustainability of sociotechnical systems that support this type of work, then it is important to understand not only how successful models of cooperation emerge, but also how they evolve and change over time.