Recently I’ve finished a paper with one of my Colleagues, and immediately another Friend has proposed me to work together on research and write a paper together afterwards…

My first answer was: “Will we not kill each other in a meantime…?”

I believe that cooperation in research is needed and can be fruitful both for researchers, and for a society, because we can complement our skills and knowledge. It helps to do better research, use more advanced methods, or mix different approaches, sometimes do interdisciplinary research…

In the same time working with someone is challenging, because each person has her/his own style of writing, system of working, and habits. I think that clear and open communication with our partner in research is the most important thing. It allows to make cooperation smoother, because we don’t waste our time for “mind reading”.

Since now I have worked on 2-3 co-authored texts. What I learned for the future?

  • Ask about your co-author’s system of working, and writing, to not be surprised in the middle of work that he/she proceeds differently than you. I think that it also can build mutual understanding, and better work organisation in the end.
  • Decide for one common work system – your “common ground”, where you meet and work together. By the “common ground” I mean kind of common strategy of work, a space where we bring your individual pieces of work, and compile them to one work. The “common ground” means also common procedure of work – how you do things, in which order, how you build a text etc. It should be in a some way a compromise/ resultant of your individual work systems, and both of you should agree for it in the beginning.
  • In the same time don’t intervene in someone’s individual work system. I found it important to accept differences in work organisation, and allow people to work in their own style, because then they are the most productive (assuming that their work system is effective).
  • Define responsibilities in the beginning. Decide which parts of the text are prepared together, which are under co-authors’ individual responsibilities. Decide who is responsible for formatting, and putting all parts together to the one file.
  • Decide for a communication strategy – emails, phones, chats, video calls, personal meetings, comments in the text etc. To make work  efficient you should know from the very beginning how you will communicate in different cases.
  • Try to find time to learn from each other. I know that doing research in cooperation we just simply use someone’s skills and knowledge to complement our skills and knowledge and have things done more effective and efficient than if we would like to try to do it yourself… On the other hand, we can use this time, working on joint research and the text, to learn from our co-author, to extend our knowledge, to widen our horizons, to gain new skills. 

Some of this points I’ve implemented already in my previous joint projects, some of them I collected based on my previous joint projects, as “room for improvement” for myself. I think that cooperation is something what we can learn, that is why we should find time to analyse our previous experiences to know what can be done better for the next time.