See below for the ten tips. The full article is available to view here.
(Note: you will need to log in to your Research Professional account if you want to access the article off-campus. If you have forgotten your password you can reset it, your username is your Salford email address.)
Starting an international collaboration is a considerable undertaking for both partners. Both of you are exploring links that have considerable potential, but take a lot of work and time to develop. It is therefore worth starting small. You don’t have to collaborate on, say, a global challenges bid immediately. Rather, consider joint authorship on a paper, a joint conference session, or a short exchange.
Like any relationship, you need to be aware of what you can offer, and what is important to you. Think about the needs of your project (see below), and consider who (or which group) can help to meet that need.
There is no point working with people if the relationship doesn’t meet your needs, but think about what those needs are, and which of them are essential.
Further to this, be aware that you are getting into a long-term relationship, so the potential colleague needs to not only meet your research needs, but be someone who you can work with on a personal level.
Inevitably, you will need to give and take, and the cultural expectations of your collaborator may be very different. Don’t be inflexible: be willing to take on board their issues or concerns. You might not be able to meet them all, but giving due consideration with an open mind is crucial.
It’s tempting, in our pressured and time-poor world, to rely on the phone, email, and Skype, but nothing beats a personal meeting. Misunderstandings can be clarified, and a more personal bond can be forged between the partners.
I’ve alluded to this already, but it bears repeating. Particularly outside of the global north, expectations, priorities and beliefs vary hugely, and you need to be sensitive to them. This is a partnership of equals, and your collaborator should be treated as such.
Following on from this, you should not do all of the taking. You need to value and respect your collaborator’s work, and the pressures in their life. Offer help and support when it’s needed, if you expect them to do the same for you.
The ideal collaboration may take a while to form, so be open and adaptable as it coalesces. You may need to do more than your fair share initially if you want it to work, but the effort will be worth it, if it means the collaboration will be stronger as a result.
Collaborators’ work schedules often differ from yours; if you wait until both are free then this is a disadvantage, because it probably means ‘never’. However you can turn this into an advantage if you keep moving forwards when you are free (but they are busy) and in return they move forwards when they are free (but you are busy). That way you can build and maintain good momentum.
Throughout the collaboration, flexibility, understanding, and a healthy attitude of respect are essential. However, you need to go into any joint project with a full knowledge of your needs and what you hope to get out of it. The journey to fulfilling these may be circuitous and unexpected, but the golden rule is that if you keep the best interests of your collaborator in mind, the collaboration will work and will provide a huge amount of additional benefit besides.Leave a comment