This paper describes a user needs analysis of a research and development center consisting of scientists at four geographically distributed universities. Observations and interviews with representative members of a research group within the center were conducted to determine the group’s current collaboration practices and to assess how technology might facilitate collaboration among group members. Data analysis shows that members collaborate primarily through informal communication with co-located peers, and they rely on formal presentations at videoconference meetings to maintain an awareness of research at other locations. The technology currently in place has helped to build a foundation for collaboration; now, the Center should augment this technology to better facilitate and encourage collaboration. It appears that the Center could benefit from a system that allows for more frequent updates on individual projects to all Center members such as a virtual bulletin board, and a tool that provides a virtual shared drawing space. Headings
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