Call for papers: Collaboration as social practice

Collaborative research environments and engagements across disciplinary and
institutional divides

The necessity of interdisciplinary research collaboration and partnering across professional and
institutional divides is a mainstream discourse in today’s academic culture. Funders are keen to
support collaboration for innovative results and effective scientific and technological solutions that
match the complexity of societal problems. Below this general desire for interdisciplinarity, the
aspects, benefits, and problems of actuating collaboration across disciplinary and institutional
divides are a matter of situated practices, conventions, and tacit understandings of how
collaboration can be made to work – if it can be made to work. Especially without prior experience,
the organization and practicalities of such endeavors are hard to fathom, yet most scholars are at
some point likely to find themselves working on projects that require collaborative skills and

Are these engagements and collaborations delivering what they promise? What are the promises?
How do we collaborate? What triumphs, difficulties, and challenges are typical to these
arrangements in practice?

The 2022 FSSTS symposium has a dual purpose:

1) to bring together and present to the participants a broad representation of today’s
collaborative research and its environments in Finland and abroad
2) to share examples, experiences, visions, and plans of those working in collaborative
arrangements, be they theoretical, methodological, or empirical in character
By creating a shared awareness of existing research collaboration, the used practical
methodologies and promises and challenges met, the symposium supports research collaboration
across disciplinary, professional, and institutional divides.

We invite both 1) track proposals for panel sessions and 2) individual presentation proposals:

  1. Track proposals
    • Should broadly relate to the CFP themes. The deadline for track proposals (300-450 words)
    is February 15, 2022. Send your proposal to events@fssts.fi. (See also the suggested track
    proposals below for inspiration.)
  2. Individual presentations
    • We invite individual presentations (10-15 minutes) relating to the CFP themes –
    presentations can be A) individual presentations, or B) they can be directed to the
    suggested tracks. Please submit an abstract of max 250 words to events@fssts.fi. The
    deadline for these submissions is April 1, 2022.
  3. Suggested tracks (preliminary suggestions; these can be appropriated for track proposals):
    • Thematic considerations. How do we address specific societal challenges through
    collaboration concerning, for example, vaccination refusal, artificial intelligence in society,
    environmental degradation, political polarization, climate crisis, or genetics in public
    health and social governance? How do commercial interests figure in collaboration? How
    has the Covid-19 pandemic affected collaboration?
    • Methodological reflections on collaboration. How do we design good collaboration
    projects and practices? What skills and knowledge do we require to collaborate?
    • The promise of transdisciplinary approaches? Can interdisciplinary collaboration lead
    to fusion of disciplinary concerns and approaches, and to truly novel perspectives and
    research initiatives? What examples do we have of such processes?
    • The role of affects and affective labor in research collaboration. E.g., disconcertment
    might be positive or negative driver in collaboration, either thwarting work or alerting the
    participants to novel perceptions and opportunities.
    • How does gender feature in collaboration? Are there differences between types of
    collaborative relationships, for example, between certain disciplines or across institutional
    divides? Is collaborative knowledge production itself gendered?
    • Collaboration and societal impact. What are the benefits deriving from collaboration in
    impact creation? For example, how can social sciences enhance the impact of legal
    scholarship, and vice versa?
    • Research ethics in collaboration: sharing the burden, sharing the credit. Collaborating
    disciplines might have different ideas based on disciplinary conventions. Perceptions
    might also depend on a very partial understanding of other disciplines, and thus of what
    constitutes a research contribution.
    • Devising ethical rules for professional practice. For example, what kind of ethics is
    needed in medicine? Who are or should be participating in devising ethical rules, and how?
    • Collaboration stories – reflections on ethnographic encounters in collaborative research
    Narratives of collaboration are a powerful means of conveying examples of
    success and failure and provide empirical material for discussion

Date and Venue

The symposium takes place in Helsinki June 9-10, 2022 (Thursday and Friday).
The venue is Metsätalo, Unioninkatu 40, 00170 Helsinki.

See the meeting website: https://www.helsinki.fi/en/conferences/collaboration-social-practice
for keynotes and other information.

Other considerations:

  • The meeting welcomes novel and inspired ways of organizing panel sessions.
  • Summer school for junior scholars doing work in science studies. The summer school is
    organized by FSSTS on June 8 (details TBC, see the meeting website for more).
  • The FSSTS Master’s thesis award in STS will be presented at the conference.