Why and how of collaboration
Collaborative research can be highly stimulating and enabling. In a multidisciplinary world, collaboration is the name of the game. However, collaboration can also sometimes be frustrating and hard and it can sometimes be difficult to forge fruitful collaborations. If one considers looking for collaboration of accepting offers to collaborate, it may be useful to take time to articulate the purpose of collaboration, what is in it for you and what is in it for the collaborator, and consider the formal and informal rules of the game.
Collaboration is a means towards an end, not an end in itself. By realizing that this is the case, one can be open about what each can expect from each other and develop a trusting and productive collaborative work relationship. Be aware that you and your partner are investing time, ideas, opportunity, and other resources in the collaborative undertaking. Taking a business-like approach actually shows that you respect what the other brings in and ensures that the your partner will respect this as well.
Some tips to keep in mind (see this link for the full version) https://www.natureindex.com/news-blog/how-to-collaborate-more-effectively-five-tips-for-researchers-science
- Be strategic about what you invest in the collaboration. Commit only to what you expect to be able to contribute.
- Sooner rather than later, propose to work towards a collaboration agreement. Your future self will thank you for the anxiety spared.
- Be open, communicative, and honest with your collaborators. Don’t forget about each other.
- Value different kinds of products, do not be single-mindedly obsessed with papers.
- Working to a good team player can be enriching and gratifying.
Good practices for collaborative research can be found around the internet. Find some examples below under the links.
VU, UvA, and Amsterdam UMC have research support departments and Legal support (IXA and LRS) that advise researchers with the formalities of such good practices, such as setting up Collaboration Agreements, Letters of Intent, etcetera. Some funders (e.g., ZonMW) require formal letters of intent or preliminary collaboration agreements (check funding requirements).
Traditional ways of identifying potential collaborators are to browse directories (e.g., the Pure pages for the APH program, conduct bibliographical research into active researchers in the field, and by participating in research meetings and conferences.
However, there are actually ways in which others may help you. The chairs of the APH research programs may be willing to help you identify potential collaborators within their programs and bring you into contact with them. This may also be achieved by contacting department heads or section leaders within APH.
Identify a wider pool of researchers to for possible research collaborations using bibliographic research, joining Open Science collaborative initiatives, or join or build consortia:
- Research networking tools such as ResearcherID, ResearchGate, and Google Scholar provide a forum for both demonstrating and locating expertise.
- Along the veins of Open Science, distributed research networks provide a port of entry into collaborative research. Here one may post study protocols to be conducted simultaneously (and thus accelerated) or sign up to conduct part of a research protocol posted by others. One example is Psychological Science Accelerator. Another platform for crowdsourced research is StudySwap.
Collaborative funding schemes have their own fora for matching investigators as well as other potential consortium partners. Examples are the Open Research Competition of the National Science Agenda (NWA-ORC) and Horizon Europe.