Office of the Vice President for Research

Collaborative Science

Researchers increasingly collaborate with colleagues who have the expertise and/or resources needed to carry out a particular project. Collaborations can be as simple as researchers sharing reagents or techniques with another researcher. They can be as complex as multi-centered clinical trials that involve academic research centers, private hospitals, and for-project companies studying thousands of patients in different states or even countries.

Any project that has more than one person working on it requires some collaboration, i.e., working together. In most projects, however, one person, commonly called the "principal investigator" or PI, is in charge. Others work under the PI's direction. In collaborative projects, however, groups of researchers who are all more or less equal partners work on a common, "collaborative" project.

In collaborative projects, researchers have all of the responsibilities listed as components of "Responsible Conduct of Research," but they assume some additional responsibilities stemming from the collaborative relationships. These additional responsibilities arise from the added burdens of:

  • Increasingly complex roles and relationships
  • Common, but not necessarily identical, interests
  • Management requirements
  • Cultural differences

These are inherent in any large project, but especially so in collaborative projects. Special attention to these added burdens can help keep collaborative projects running smoothly.