Harvard-2017: Elements of the S4 Collaboration

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Elements of the S4 Collaboration (Moderator: John Carlstrom)

[charge to moderator: find 2-3 examples to display as kickoff]

Post talks here.


  • Prep for Parallels 2 -- science updates for Decadal: Colin, Cora, and Shaul PDF

Notes from session

  • 3:30PM Collaboration Elements by Example - Brenna Flaugher
    • Collaborations grow and evolve, policies are to guide that evolution, not to set in stone what will happen infinitely in the future
    • DES example:
      • DES started with ~20 people at 5 institutions, now 400 scientists at 25 institutions
        • Q: what stage was DES at then compared to where we are now?
          • behind where we are now, because it was a brand new idea.
          • CD3 in 2008
      • DES had a single head (John Peoples) but management committee (with reps from each institution) was very important for the collaboration feeling like they were involved and represented.
      • DES has a brand new org chart now that it's in operations
        • Q: Were decisions made by the management committee binding?
        • Yes, all decisions went to them, and their decisions were binding. Director was chair of that committee but did not have veto power.
      • leadership roles are one of the big perks of a large collaboration and there needs to be a good process for filling them.
        • consider two people in each position and rotate one each year
        • volunteers / self-nominations
    • DESI example
      • forged from two competing groups (DES / SDSS)
      • institutional board created from *all* interested groups on both sides
        • started with ~75 people but quickly decayed
      • institutional membership and contributions reviewed every year
        • initially, this was mostly money, which is useful to convince DOE you're serious
    • LSST example
      • NSF / DOE division similar to what might happen for S4
    • CMS example
      • collaboration board has one member per region/country
    • takeaway message: big collaborations don't just happen, you have to work on them
      • flexibility is key
      • funding sources need to be reflected in org structure (agencies need to be represented)
      • need to be cognizant of postdoc & grad student timescales, incl. how to make transition between junior & senior roles
    • Questions
      • have you seen examples of good and bad leadership?
        • a good team works even when leadership is questionable
      • can you distill into a few core elements the structure that DOE and NSF will impose on us?
        • DOE won't impose a structure but has strong expectations for management
      • How did NSF accept separate projects for LSST?
        • No, it was multiple science collaborations, but still one project.
      • In these examples, how many leaders were elected directly?
        • DES does not elect directly, CDF did, DESC does
      • Did the division between the two camps in DESI persist throughout?
        • no, it pretty much died out over time
  • 4:00PM Governance structures - Karen Byrum
    • three examples of by-laws: IceCube (~300 members, 48 institutions, 12 countries); Mu2e (~230, 37, 6), DESI (530, 79, 9)
    • by-laws define the role of the institutional board, which is the policy-forming body
    • by-laws should define a series of things about the IB:
      • who can be on the IB & how selected?
      • voting process
      • how to select spokesperson and/or chair?
      • how frequently to meet?
    • by-laws define the role of the executive board / committee (advises scientific leadership)
    • by-laws define scientific leadership (spokesperson)
      • more than one spokesperson? deputy? need one from each region / sub-field / etc.?
      • how are they nominated, how do they accept?
      • terms, elections, etc.
    • Questions
      • In IceCube, there is another informal committee (international funding agencies)
        • that's project, we are talking science collaboration
        • could be a resource board
      • Will there be conflicts between project leadership and scientific leadership?
        • needs to be strong communication between the two, including possibly science representation on project leadership
      • Is there a clear demarcation between what project leadership and scientific leadership do? (E.g., who is in charge of producing maps?)
        • project ends when instrument is build, then you're in operations
          • so project management ends then?
            • no
              •  ?
      • lots of questions about project management...
  • 4:25PM Membership policy + mentoring - Steve Kuhlmann
    • What does "member" mean?
      • senior-ish person, possibly with a required minimum %FTE on the project, often with associated postdocs & students
      • when postdocs move on, usually given a new title and remain in the collaboration, but that new institution is not given a spot on the IB
    • IB is final word on membership (sometimes 2/3 vote required)
      • often have membership subcommittee as initial filter
      • stay flexible!
    • membership and publication policies can be coupled but don't have to be
    • preference usually given to groups, not individual people at institutions
      • one-person institutions often "associate members" (can band together and get representation)
    • specific membership policy examples: IceCube (short) & DES (long)
    • buy-in
      • helps to buy stuff because money doesn't really turn on until CD2
      • example of in-kind contributions that can replace cash buy-in (DES document)
    • external collaborator concept
      • unique to DES?
      • non-members can apply to use some part of data
    • builder idea
      • normal membership not always guarantee of authorship, but large infrastructure effort is
    • nine questions about membership policy (see talk)
    • Questions
      • Do you have to have an IB?
        • never seen a collaboration without one
        • DESC does not have one, but it's a different beast
      • Is cash buy-in really practical? Do you distinguish between people who pay a lot of cash and people who do stuff?

most institutions on DES are only ~1/3 cash

        • on DESI, any DOE institution could come in with no cash
      • When does the buy-in happen? We don't have a project yet.
        • institutions do buy in before approval, often at a discounted rate because of higher risk, but buy-in makes more sense for a defined project
      • How do CMB collaborations work now, given that none of them have bylaws?
        • perhaps there is a threshold of collaboration size beyond which you need them
        • funding agencies know how to deal with collaborations, not amorphous groups of people
  • 4:50PM Publication + talks policy - Nathan Whitehorn
    • What are the goals?
      • good science disseminated widely
      • appropriate credit assigned
      • protect younger people
      • somehow recognize critical dirty work (e.g., calibration)
    • Panel discussion with representatives from three large collaborations
      • Joe Formaggio (SNO, Project 8, KATRIN)
        • the only important thing the collaboration board really does is write down the publication policy
        • maintain member list (6 months to be added, 1 year off the project to be dropped)
        • different classes of papers (collaboration-wide, official but not all authors, not official but by collab members and usually circulated)
      • Charles Lawrence (Planck)
        • similar breakdown in papers
        • authorship was never automatic (had to say "I want to be an author")
        • "Planck Scientist" like builder on DES (can be on any paper)
        • always alphabetical, can be no other way
        • Planck talks policy didn't work, so not saying anything about it
      • Brenna Flaugher (DES)
        • DES has key projects and non-key projects with different policies
        • key papers are alphabetical, pretty much anything else can be first-author
    • Questions
      • How do you get to lead an analysis project?
        • on DES, need approval from working group
        • DOE wants a unified public front
      • What about key projects?
        • WG decides
          • so if you do a really good job, you are more likely to lose first authorship?
          • no, you can still write a first-author paper about part of the analysis
        • in Project 8, key analyses are identified at collaboration meetings
      • How well did these policies work in getting people credit?
        • what worked in Planck were written letters of recommendation; what didn't work was the talks policy
        • in SNO, credit was assigned by collaboration board, and it was important to cycle those people

Action items/Next steps

Summarize action items here