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Module 3: Conducting Research Responsibly - Protecting Yourself, Your Research, and Your University

4.6 Collaborative research

Collaborative research is widespread and can be as simple as sharing a resource with a colleague in the next office, or have the complexities of a major project with national and international participants. You should be aware of all the resources in your university for implementing policies and agreements for joint research collaborations. As a researcher, there are a number of times when you and your research colleagues will be setting the pace. You will sketch out ideas that rapidly settle into place, maybe without the necessary considerations of the consequences. The US ORI Introduction to the Responsible Conduct of Research has a useful list of questions that should be asked in any collaborative arrangements. There are also various sources of information such as 'Section 8 Collaborative Research Across Institutions' of the Code, that will help you arrive at appropriate answers. The questions you should ask should lead to a common understanding of:

  • The goals of the project and anticipated outcomes
  • The role each partner in the collaboration will play
  • How data will be collected and stored
  • How changes in the research design will be made
  • The criteria that will be used to identify and rank contributing authors
  • Who will be responsible for submitting reports and meeting other requirements
  • Who will have the responsibility, or authority, to speak publicly for the collaboration
  • How IP rights and ownership issues will be resolved
  • How the collaboration can be changed and when it will come to an end.

Successful collaborations are based on mutual trust, and by maintaining a continuous collegial conversation about all aspects of the collaboration you can maintain this trust. Furthermore, collaborative agreements provide an opportunity to demonstrate research leadership and share in the benefits.

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