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Formal and Informal Infrastructures of Collaboration in the Human Brain Project

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Original languageEnglish
JournalScience, Technology and Human Values
Published25 Sep 2022

Bibliographical note

Funding Information: The author(s) disclosed receipt of the following financial support for the research, authorship, and/or publication of this article: Horizon 2020 Framework Program (720270 and 785907). Publisher Copyright: © The Author(s) 2022.

King's Authors


This article draws on long-term engagement with the Human Brain Project (HBP), one of the Future and Emerging Technology Flagship Initiatives funded by the European Commission to address EU “grand challenges” of understanding the human brain and applying these insights to brain-inspired technology development. Based on participant observation and interviews with researchers and project administrators, our findings suggest that the formal infrastructure built to facilitate and structure collaboration within large-scale interdisciplinary research projects can be in tension with the ways researchers collaborate. While much of the literature on infrastructure focuses on top-down, formal infrastructural design, we also pay attention to the informal, bottom-up infrastructural assemblage involved in large-scale interdisciplinary collaborations. This brings into question how scientists and science funders navigate the tensions and interactions between formal and informal infrastructure, rendering certain kinds of collaboration and knowledge (in)visible.

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