Research on Asian Science Training Program (ASTP)


About the Project

This Project examined doctoral training practices critical to the spread of tacit skills — skills acquired through close interaction and hands–on experience — relevant to graduate science training programs (Campbell 2003; Delamont & Atkinson 2001). Thus far, tacit skills have been an understudied aspect of knowledge production and graduate science education (Leahey 2006), but play a critical role in creativity, innovation, and productivity in experimental (Collins 2001) and mathematical sciences (Kaiser et al. 2004), laser–development (Collins 1992), and nuclear weapon–development (MacKenzie & Spinardi 1995).

The Project focused on training programs in Japan, Singapore, and Taiwan because (1) these countries have consistently exhibited high rates of creativity, innovation, and productivity in recent years (Lemonick 2006; Stiglitz 2007); (2) an NSF funded research showed that Japanese trained Filipino scientists exhibited stronger ties with mentors, which translates to significantly higher publication productivity (Ynalvez 2006, Ynalvez & Shrum 2008), and inspired the Project to explore the dynamics of Japanese mentoring practices, and see if similarities exist with other scientifically productive countries in the region; and (3) understanding how to effectively share and transfer knowledge in a multicultural, multidisciplinary work environment is all the more timely and imperative since the increasingly collaborative nature of science brings together expertise from different disciplines, cultures, and locations.

The analytical, conceptual, and methodological tools used in the Project came from areas of knowledge sharing, social networks (Marsden 2003), time–use research (Gershuny 2002), and the extended translation model of science (Callon 1995) in order to develop an empirically tested and contemporary model to inform science policy of the criticality and role of tacit skills in knowledge production, and to enhance best practices and techniques in U.S. graduate science training.

Although this project is supported by a grant from the National Science Foundation,
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