James Howison

James Howison is an Assistant Professor in the Information School of the University of Texas at Austin, where I have been since August 2011. I'm part of the Information Work Research Group.

Picture of James Howison

I research collaboration and technology. I've studied open source software development and the development of software in science because both are interesting examples of collaboration. I'm particularly interested in understanding how different incentives, such as working for fun or for academic reputation, lead to different structures of collaboration. I draw on my training in social science, organizational science, economics, and software engineering to study people, organizations, and technologies. I employ methods such as interviews, participant observation, analysis of software code, and analysis of “digital trace data,” which are the records left behind by online activity.

My research currently focuses on understanding the scientific software ecosystem. In 2015 I started research on a project to understand how grant-funded software projects in science seek long-term sustainability by changing to open collaboration, trying to learn from open source software development. That work is funded by an NSF CAREER award (#1453548).

See more on my research on my Research and Publications page.

Prior to UTexas I was a post-doctoral associate at the Institute for Software Research at the Carnegie Mellon School of Computer Science where he worked with Jim Herbsleb.

I received my PhD in May 2009, advised by Kevin Crowston, at the School of Information studies at Syracuse University in Upstate New York. My dissertation examined the work of free and open source software developers and developed a theory called collaboration through superposition. More on that on my dissertation page. My undergraduate training is in Political Economy at the University of Sydney.

In addition to my academic work I have been invited to present at industry conferences, including O'Reilly's first P2P conference (which became E-Tech) and the 2005 FOOCamp, LinuxAsia 2006, the 2006 O'Reilly Open Source Conference and the 2011 O'Reilly SciFoo Camp.

You can contact me at or my cellphone +1 315 395 4056. There's also an embedded microformat hCard in the html on this page.)