Let's get together

Let’s get together

Did you hear the news? Collaborations can solve all of our problems. They will help us to be more creative and to research together to solve the BIG problems (which attract the BIG funding). There will be institutes, groups, and initiatives spawned across the traditional academic subjects and everyone will work together in perfect harmony.

Alternatively, the chemists will spend months trying to understand the biologists who, in turn, will spend weeks trying to understand the ecologists. Cross-discipline communication and understanding is a key barrier to collaborative research. How can chemists step in to solve problems with, say, physicists when the jargon of each field is time-consuming to learn? 

Is it necessary to collaborate with everyone and anyone? Or should researchers be selective? After all, time is the most precious resource to new lecturers (perhaps second only to sleep). Collaborations will involve spending reasonable amounts of time with others.

I don’t dispute the benefits of collaboration but worry about the consequences when things go wrong. I also question the immediate need for new academics to launch themselves, heart and research soul, into collaborations when they have yet to establish themselves as independent researchers.

The Undercover academic is a university lecturer in the UK