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Statistics and Physical Oceanography
an institution; there may be inherent obstructions to peer-reviewed funding or publishing of cross-disciplinary research (for instance, in defining what constitutes a peer); and there may be contextual scientific obstacles (since the multifaceted system under study may not fit into traditional categories for scientific investigation).
Without attempting to specify particular remedies, the panel includes below a few generic observations and outlines some possible initial approaches to encouraging collaborative research, especially between statisticians and oceanographers. The recent publication of several excellent studies and reports addressing cross-disciplinary research in various contexts (e.g., NRC, 1987; Institute of Mathematical Statistics, 1988; NRC, 1990a; see also Goel et al., 1990; Gnanadesikan, 1990; Hoadley and Kettenring, 1990), together with heartening signs of an improving environment for such activities (Crank, 1993; Harris, 1993), suggests that attention to the value of collaborative research is increasing and that work toward facilitating it will be ongoing.
OBSERVATIONS AND SUGGESTIONS
The need for clear communication and substantive interaction among collaborating researchers from different disciplines suggests the desirability of their working together at the same physical location for a significant period of time on specific problems to which both parties can contribute needed expertise. Funding agencies and research institutions could stimulate such interactions (a) by sponsoring workshops on well-delineated topics—drawn, for example, from the research areas discussed in this report—that are best addressed by a collaborative effort; (b) by providing for postdoctoral fellowships, senior research sabbaticals, and graduate student residencies that would enable statisticians to work with oceanographers at oceanographic research institutions; and (c) by sponsoring a series of one-or two-week short courses on oceanography for statisticians in which specialists would review selected topics and indicate open areas of research. It is much more likely that statistical research on one of the physical oceanographic challenges described in this report will produce valuable results if that research involves continuous interaction with an oceanographer who is versed both in the nuances of that challenge and in the practical oceanographic realities surrounding it.
In all such considerations, the panel encourages active cooperation between statisticians and oceanographers at agencies that fund research in these disciplines.
Effectively communicating the results of successful collaborative research—and thereby increasing understanding of its value in addressing complex problems—includes having the results published in journals that are well regarded in the relevant disciplines. The panel suggests that, as an initial step, one or more of the major statistical journals could publish a special section or issue on statistics and oceanography designed to increase awareness of the research opportunities in that area. This would encourage interaction between statisticians and physical oceanographers, increase the visibility of the results of successful collaboration, and set a precedent that could stimulate other highly regarded disciplinary journals to publish statistics and oceanography cross-disciplinary papers.