The phrase, collaborative research, commonly brings to mind an academic project. However, the concept has evolved beyond the campus, appearing in the community and business world.
The Cloud is here. Organizations large and small can partner with others whose skills – and data – they were unable to access previously. There are whole new worlds of possible partnerships where, for example, universities and private companies combine competencies. Healthcare professionals are excited to have potential access to all of any given patient’s history. Social scientists examine relationships between individual income level, general lifestyle and government policy. Community groups engage and empower teens through traditional and innovative measures.
Despite the infinite potential, projects do fail. The reason is not necessarily the subject matter. Like most successes, the eventual outcome of collaborative research is heavily influenced by the very beginning stages.
How does one even recognize a good potential partner? Since the whole idea of the endeavor is to break new ground, it seems advisable to begin from a very familiar foundation. Seek to improve the odds of finding a rapport.
- Publications: Articles in recognized scientific journals and verifiable content on web pages will identify similarly-minded entities.
- Patents: These require very detailed information regarding the invention. Also, sometimes a consideration, the patent-holder is perceived as a definite innovator.
- Conferences: More current than any published article, this venue provides one-on-one information as well.
- Seminars: Meet other people with essentially similar interests, with the idea of using established procedures in new ways.
- Intermediaries: Especially in larger organizations, connections may reveal themselves indirectly.
Clear channels of communication must be developed. Interest must be aligned: All parties must agree as to what question or problem is being addressed. This is a perfect example of “the Devil is in the details”: be sure to document as much detail as needed to create a total consensus. Again, a reasonably smooth start is always the best way to finish strong.