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The Psychology of Research Collaboration

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The landscape of scientific research is rapidly evolving. For one, researchers have essentially migrated from the era of ‘traditional’ research in which one researcher pursued a theme over several decades. Instead, academia is fostering a fresh research culture, whereby academic works advance through the creation of interdisciplinary research. As a researcher, you surely know the benefits that you can derive from research collaboration. 

But what exactly do we mean by ‘research collaboration’? The term ‘collaboration’ in academic research is usually thought to mean an equal partnership between researchers who are pursuing mutually interesting and beneficial research. Today, however, many collaborations involve researchers of differing stature, funding status, and types of organisations. 

This therefore means that academic researchers, community-based organisations, and policy makers will work together to:

  • Frame the problems to be tackled and the questions that need to be answered;
  • Undertake the research and interpret the results in terms of their significance for community and policy change; and
  • Disseminate the research findings and advocate for change.

Research collaboration is an engaged scholarship in action, in which researchers, community members, and policy makers respect the skills and expertise that each partner brings to the table, so that together they might know better how to understand the complex problems facing them. Through this partnership they can identify ways to implement research-based responses to those problems.

Whether you are an established researcher or an emerging scholar, you know that research requires a diverse set of skills and capabilities, and that these skills and capabilities are usually honed over a substantial period of time. Under these circumstances, an innovative idea for research collaboration can offer motivation and inspiration. 

Research collaboration is not really new. As humans, we always look for ways to simplify our tasks. One of the ways to achieve this is by pooling our resources, whether through sharing expertise, financial leverage, commissioning, etc.

During the early stage of your research career, you might have realised that doing collaborative research in psychology offers an engaging journey through the process of conducting research in psychology. Through research collaboration you learn to focus on team-based approaches to reflect on collaborative nature of research methods and experimental psychology.

Through collaboration we learn how to work as a team, generate creative research ideas, design and pilot studies, recruit participants, collect and analyse data, write up results in APA style, and prepare and give formal research presentations. We also learn practical ways in which they can promote our research skills as we apply this to our future career paths.

However, collaboration is not easy task to achieve or sustain. One study reveals that between 50% and 75% of all inter-organisational collaborations fail. And failure, particularly in scientific research, is expensive. So, if you are new to collaborating, you might find these ten rules for successful research collaboration a helpful read. 

Indeed, research collaboration is an indispensable tool. But where exactly can you find research collaborators, in psychology and beyond? In an earlier post, I have made a list of platforms to help you find a ‘dating partner’ for you research. These are:

  • Academic Labs
  • Mendeley
  • ScienceOpen
  • Facebook groups
  • ResearchGate
  • Twitter
  • LinkedIn
  • Publiconn
  • Conseris

As you are probably aware, we feature a collection of profiles of people whose background are in psychology and allied fields. 

Hopefully, you find these resources useful for your research journey. However, bear in mind that for the search to be successful, approach it like a process with clear objectives and milestones. This way, you won’t have to lose sleep over finding a research collaborator the next time.

Dennis Relojo-Howell is the founder of Psychreg. He writes for the American Psychological Association and has a weekly column for Free Malaysia Today. 

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