Administrators and the Responsible Conduct of Research
Collaborative Research:
Collaborators' Expectations

Collaborators' Expectations

When problems arise among those carrying out collaborative research, it is usually because the collaborators have different expectations, and have not communicated with each other sufficiently and/or effectively enough to express, understand, and then resolve these differing expectations.

Normally a significant intellectual contribution by each potential collaborator is necessary for the interaction to be considered a collaboration. However, perceptions of what constitutes a "significant intellectual contribution" vary. In addition, the perceived intellectual value of such contributions as technical expertise can vary. No one would consider a brief discussion at a professional meeting, or other such similar contact, to be a collaboration. On the other hand, what if such talks or discussions occur at regular intervals? Unless there is an agreement between the researchers as to how to characterize their research relationship, disputes over authorship and attribution, and issues related to the ownership of intellectual property, can easily arise.

Ideally, researchers should be asking themselves if an interaction with another researcher is growing into a collaboration. Members of a collaboration, including those within a research group, should communicate clearly and frankly with each other in such a way that all members can answer the questions: What am I expected to contribute to this joint research project? What do I expect to get out of this collaboration? Administrative staff may have a role to play in inducing researchers to re-evaluate some of their interactions with other researchers when, for instance, a PI begins requesting reimbursements be paid to a researcher outside his/her research group.

back to the previous page next page