Productive Scholarly Collaboration among Academics and Scientists
Scholarly collaboration is a wide-ranging concept that is extremely popular in many of today’s academic and scientific circles. Collaboration may refer to anything from reading each other’s articles and offering constructive commentary to actually conducting research and analysing the results together. Productive collaboration can mean improving and expanding your research, and it can also lead to employment and funding opportunities. The key is to make scholarly collaboration work in beneficial ways for you and every other member of your collaborative team.
Most students and scholars have collaborated with other students and scholars in the most basic of ways – by reading each other’s writing before it is submitted for grading or publication. This practice is excellent training ground for exercising your collaborative skills. In order to establish a productive relationship of this kind, you will need to read your partner’s work with a critical yet compassionate eye, and the comments he or she offers on your work must be received with enough objectivity and maturity to render them productive. Both of you will need to begin the collaboration with an open mind and be willing to open it still further as you work together. In the best of scenarios, improvement in the writing of both members will be the result.
Working together on a book or some other large publication is another common form of scholarly collaboration. Two or more academics or scientists might gather and edit a collection of essays, for example, in which case they will need to establish the scholarly and editorial standards they plan to use. The contributors will benefit from more than one perspective when you and your co-editor(s) provide constructive commentary, but it will often be necessary to reach a consensus to help your contributors polish their work most successfully. On the other hand, two or more colleagues may write a book together, either by each of them contributing individual sections and chapters or by all of them working together on an entire manuscript based on their separate research projects. Either way, that open-minded and compassionate approach to criticism noted above as necessary when reading each other’s writing will serve you well. A flexible work style will probably prove useful as well. You will all need to work together for an extended period of time and very likely solve a number of problems, so remember that you are working for the good of the book and that you will all benefit if it is successfully published.
The most collaborative form of scholarly teamwork is when two or more academics or scientists actually conduct research together and then work together to write up the results of that research. This kind of collaboration usually involves the assignment of separate research and writing tasks and generally requires a project leader of some kind. Among the greatest challenges here is ensuring that everyone involved has the opportunity to contribute actively to the project and publication. If you occupy a relatively low place in the hierarchy, you may find yourself doing more of the practical work than others who are higher, but if you learn to write your first scholarly paper with the help of your colleagues or have the opportunity to use innovative new methodology, you have gained, and having your name associated with more advanced scholars will be a benefit in itself. Collaborative projects of this kind are often successful in obtaining funding, so they can present excellent opportunities for cutting your research teeth and establishing a reputation that will gain you further research funding in the future.
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