Julia Olmos Peñuela's work won the "Best Paper Award" at the "Eu-SPRI Early Career Researcher Conference"


África Villanueva Felez and Julia Olmos Peñuela presented the following works “Exchanging Information Through Social Links: The Role Of Friendship, Trust and Reciprocity” and “Are STEM from Mars and SSH from Venus? A comparison of research and transfer activities in the hard and soft disciplines” to the Eu-SPRI Early Career Researcher Conference, INTERACT UNI: New perspectives on enduring research questions in university-society interaction, which took place from the 9th to the 11th May in Enschede. Both works were selected among the top five in the conference.

Are STEM from Mars and SSH from Venus? A comparison of research and transfer activities in the hard and soft disciplines” (Julia Olmos-Peñuela, with Paul Benneworth and Elena Castro-Martínez). "Best Paper Award".

There is a reasonable consensus within the innovation community that science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) research is more ‘usable’ than other kinds of research notably social sciences, humanities and arts (SSHA). This assumption has been accepted by a much wider set of communities outside the innovation community, such as those in science and higher education policy. Our paper starts from the position that this assumption is at least questionable; and we ask whether there has been a policy failure that contributes to the now widespread belief of the natural superiority of STEM over SSHA disciplines. Therefore, from a theoretical reading of the discussion around SSHA research, we identify a number of stylized facts that might account for – from the perspective of the existing theory – why this systematic disadvantage and bias afflicts SSHA. We elaborate a taxonomy of the claims and we propose a number of hypotheses that we test with a database corresponding to 1,583 researchers from the Spanish National Research Council (CSIC). Results indicate that SSH and STEM researchers have different patterns of research, transfer and diffusion activities. However, these differences do not mean that SSHA research is less useful than STEM research. A review of this assumption is required to restore the balance between the SSHA and STEM contribution to society.

Exchanging Information Through Social Links: The Role Of Friendship, Trust and Reciprocity (África Villanueva-Felez with Jordi Molas-Gallart)

This paper shows that the features that characterize the exchange of information among individuals vary depending on the type of information exchanged (novel or specific) and the institutional affiliation of the individuals involved. It unbundles the concept of strong and weak links into three main tie characteristics: trust, friendship and reciprocity. Using data from a survey of nanotechnology researchers, we identify the characteristics of 594 links between researchers and individuals from different institutional groups (firms, governmental organizations and universities). Findings suggest behavioral regularities that are contingent on the kind of information being exchanged and the contact’s institutional membership. For, instance, when university researchers exchange novel information between themselves, the level of trust becomes essential, but exchanges with individuals from other institutional settings (firms and governmental organizations) will be characterized instead by reciprocity and friendship. We discuss the implications of these findings for research on the relational perspective of social networks and university-society relationships.

Moreover, Julia Olmos Peñuela and Jon Mikel Zabala won the Science Slam that took place during the conference.

For more information, see the official conference website: http://www.utwente.nl/igs/conference/2012_earlycareer/