Academic researchers almost always work in collaborative groups both within their university as well as across other institutions. There are many reasons why a faculty member would want to collaborate on research, such as managing the scope and workload of the project, covering different areas of expertise, and mentoring new researchers. Additionally, have a strong set of well-published collaborators can increase the likelihood that your project will get funded if you apply for a grant. Collaborative research can be faster than individual research and is likely to produce more accurate results; however, it also has its limitations. A collaborator may be difficult to work with causing tension during the project. Opinions and interpretations of the data and results may differ as well as the styles of the researchers. Ownership and authorships of the project may also cause strain on the process. Listed below are a few ways to enhance research collaboration.
1. Communication. Never assume anything in a research collaboration for it can cause problems. Establish and maintain communication throughout the project. Discuss data, ideas, and any personal issues when they arise.
2. Discuss assignments upfront. Decide who will be in charge of what sections of the project before it begins. This ensures that the best person is doing each job and that all of the processes are being covered. This eliminates the “I thought you were doing that” dilemma.
3. Discuss authorship in advance. Authorship can be a touchy subject due to the weight of primary authorship in the academic community. Deciding who will be the primary author from the beginning will eliminate conflict and competition during the project while also establishing expectations.
4. Manage accountability. Each contributing researcher should be fully aware of the expectations, rules, and limits of the researcher. Any breech of these policies could result in consequences for all of the researchers involved and could even compromise the project. Each researcher should be held accountability for knowing the rules in which they must abide.
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