Associate Professor Yuqing Ren recently received a $919,979 research grant from the National Science Foundation. Ren received the award along with Robert Kraut of Carnegie Mellon University and Yan Chen and Qiaozhu Mei of the University of Michigan to develop and test a computational theory of online communities. The three-year grant will run through August 31, 2019.

Ren and her colleagues will build and test a computational theory describing the factors and processes that influence the success of online communities. They will develop and test new theories during the course of the project in order to better predict community success at multiple levels of analysis, including members’ support, community maintenance, production, and key stakeholder benefits. The computational theory produced in this research will provide new scientific insights to explain variations in success in existing online communities and new engineering insights that can be applied to improve design choices. The project will advance knowledge of how these design factors interact to affect community success and member experiences in online communities.