The Biggest Mistakes Researchers Make When Working Together (And How To Avoid Them)

HIV has been a heavily researched topic for decades, but until today, there’s still no cure for the sickness. However, in 2020, researchers are again hopeful of a cure for HIV after treating an HIV patient with a promising new treatment that could kill all traces of the virus.

Behind the new treatment is a group of researchers from different research institutionsーOxford University, University of Cambridge, Imperial College London, King’s College London, and University College London.

Without the collaborative effort of the researchers, we might not have been presented this new opportunity to help those who have contracted HIV. Apart from that, it also tells us that with the availability of technology, researchers can collaborate and conduct meaningful studies even though they come from different locations.

Doing collaborative research has its own pros and cons. Of course, no one knows everything, so having a lot of brains working together can give you a lot of different perspectives on your academic research.

Everyone has their own strengths and weaknesses, and when those are put together, the whole is often more significant than the sum of its parts. However, researchers commonly make a few mistakes when working together that lead to underutilizing the strengths of each researcher.

Let’s look at the 5 biggest mistakes researchers make and how to avoid them.

1. Researchers don’t have a strategy.

First, when working on academic research with collaborators, it’s important to have a strategyーand this is often overlooked. Without a proper and clear strategy on how you’ll move forward with your research, it won’t be easy to align and know your research progress.

Having a strategy is a necessary project management process that you need to have when working with others. As a result, it will be easier to realign when there are new developments within your research, to lessen the impact during disruptions.

Solution: The first thing you must do before starting a research project is have a meeting with all researchers and design a clear-cut strategy. Make sure to discuss all expectations on cost, time, quality, and how you will conduct the research. To avoid project failure, you want to ensure that no single member is clueless about the research process.

2.  Researchers have unclear roles.

One mistake during collaborative research is not defining the proper roles and responsibilities in great detail to the members. The lack of clarity, certainty, and predictability of a researcher’s role in research, or role ambiguity, may cause burnout. When researchers are unsure of what to do, it’s more difficult for them to give out their best during the research process.

Of course, you want your research to be high-quality and substantial. You don’t want to have a team of brilliant researchers to only end up with a mediocre research paper.

Solution: Once you’ve created a clear strategy on how to move forward with your research, the next step is to define each member’s proper roles and responsibilities clearly. This reduces the chances of miscommunication and confusion among your team. You don’t move forward until each member clearly understands what’s expected of them and how each can contribute to the research process.

3. Researchers are not working on the same page.

Collaborative research means working with several researchers most of the time. Sometimes, one chapter cannot begin until the previous chapter has provided results or more information.

As there are now more opportunities to work with international researchers, many challenges also arise. One challenge is failing to update the team members on any updates or changes with the research, especially when there are time zone differences. When this happens, it often leads to miscommunication and ineffective results.

Solution: When your team members have fully understood their roles, the next step is to use an online project management tool like Flowcite, where all team members can work and update instantaneously and simultaneously. Having a powerful tool that allows everyone to work together despite the different geographical locations can help members collaborate effectively and produce better results.

4. Researchers are using too many collaborative tools.

Speaking of tools, with so many available online collaborative tools, it can often lead to collaborative tools overload. These tools are supposed to allow each team member to communicate and collaborate in real-time. You can have a chat application to communicate, another tool for online meetings, another project management tool for managing projects, another tool for citing scholarly sources, and so on.

Having to manage so many tools while conducting research at the same time can be overwhelming and leads to important information getting overlooked. More than that, the researchers will also spend more unnecessary time learning and navigating these apps. When researchers spend more time navigating these tools, it translates to lost productivity.

Solution: We all know that too much of something is always bad, so you need to find the perfect balance and settle with fewer tools. Eliminate the needless burden on researchers and find a central hub where you can communicate and manage your research at once. With fewer tools to switch between, you’ll have a more streamlined workflow and achieve higher productivity levels.

5. Researchers join fake collaborations.

Another big mistake that researchers need to look out for is “fake” collaborations. Fake collaborations happen when researchers put their names on a project, but do not have actual involvement in the research or focus only on their independent work.

Some researchers enter fake interdisciplinary collaborations to win funding, for example by adding a senior scientist to the team. At the same time, some do it only to focus on networking and establishing collaborative projects, then leave the actual work to their junior colleagues.

Not all fake collaborations are intentional. Some don’t even realize that they’re part of one. For example, when a team of researchers from different scientific disciplines lack communication and do the research process in different ways, it can also be tagged as a fake collaboration.

Solution: All contributors to the research project need to have a clear role in the research process to avoid appearing fake. Ensure that all members are contributing equally from the hypothesis to the results. In addition, you need to guarantee that every member is working on the research while providing new insights and any relevant information.

Collaboration to Success

Effective collaboration can contribute significantly to academic publishing by providing new perspectives and solutions to complex issues. But working with others isn’t always simple, and it’s inevitable to be faced with many challenges along the way.

Suppose you’re working on collaborative research and do not have the luxury of time to always meet up and work together in person. In that case, you can always opt for reliable tools that allow you to do many things in one platform—like Flowcite.

Flowcite offers a premium collaborative research tool that allows you to write, discuss, and update each member in real-time. It’s an online platform that provides you with an all-in-one solution to academic research, from writing to publishing. Some of its powerful tools include:

  • Collaborative PDF Viewer: Working together with your team on any PDF, annotate freely, make citations, and add comments in real-time.
  • LaTeX Text Editor: Your team can choose your preferred template, pre-format your paper, and select and change instantly from over 7,000 citation styles.
  • Grammar & Style Checker: Have access to Flowcite’s AI-driven assistant integrated into our editors and plugging to reach proficiency in writing.
  • Integrated Bookstore: Your team can rent or buy from over 9 million ebooks, directly save references to your library, and add citations to your work.
  • Reference and Citation Manager: You can search, save, and organize your references seamlessly to lessen the time needed for managing scholarly sources. You can also import your work, export it to other applications, and drag & drop content between projects.

Flowcite allows you to collaborate seamlessly and spend more time on what matters mostーresearch and writing. By taking advantage of our all-in-one intuitive platform, your team won’t have to worry much about doing time-consuming tasks that are not necessarily related to your research process.

Collaborate effectively and arrive at substantial results more efficiently. Sign up with Flowcite today!

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