Are published papers the only currency that counts in your career?
Let it be a belief, a truth, or an illusion, writing a paper certainly is a developmental experience in itself because of the inherent process of knowledge generation. Even more so if such a paper is written in a team. On top of philosophical reflection, theoretical elaboration, and empirical investigation, there are group dynamics of mutual learning, emotional and intellectual exchange, and operational considerations. Learning can happen through the new insights that a written research project can generate, through the exchange with the field, or the immersion into foreign theoretical frameworks. Handling others’ emotions, expectations, and worldviews shapes the exchanges between authors. Operationalizations of the research process can give rise to different approaches to work, methods, and techniques to manage the tasks as well as coping mechanisms to deal with the challenges along the way. Overall, a co-authored paper is a complex endeavor, yet a great opportunity for scholars at all career levels to collaboratively gain from.
However, it certainly is not the only currency that counts. We want to highlight other means and currencies of exchange that lead to meaningful collaboration. We think that you should not get anxious if your network does not allow for aspirational top-tier publication projects or lacks access to learning opportunities that might forward your academic CV. Hence, we present a framework of different ways of collaborating that might inspire you to discover new options or to reframe your existing ones.
One the one hand we see collaborations that are strictly research related. On the other hand, we assume collaborations that pursue not exclusively academic goals. We believe that forms of and opportunities for collaboration are not exclusive to a certain constellation of members at different career stages, because in the end, we are all students and researchers of a field.
Beyond papers: How to collaborate in research-related initiatives
Research-related collaboration should happen at and between all career stages. Established research groups depend on “fresh blood” to keep the field at the forefront of new ideas and developments and the new members of the field should have the chance to learn from the experienced. Informal platforms of exchange, like meetups, seminars, or regular meetings offer the chance to brainstorm research ideas, and discuss findings or theoretical contributions, leading to undiscovered readings, perspectives, and new insights. The same goes for more formal settings like research seminars, presentations, or workshops. However, informality might allow for a more comfortable setting which lets exploration of ideas or controversial thoughts emerge more easily. In addition, these informal platforms do not need much preparation. They can happen unstructured or can be set up creatively, deploying techniques to get a grip on those ideas. When the aim is to have impactful creative outcomes, a diverse group might contribute most to the development of ideas, and a more structured approach like a workshop provides a more suitable setting. The lack of accessible opportunities of such kind should not be a discouragement, rather it provides grounds for all of us to connect and collaborate new and more dynamic ways. We believe that the culture within our community encourages innovative ways of collaborating across the board.
A kind of hybrid form of collaboration is to ask for or give a friendly review. For junior scholars, this is a great learning opportunity. For seniors this is a nice way to give back to the community and support the field in general. When it comes to established platforms like seminars on method training or full paper presentation, with their educational and developmental character, they might seem more like a one-way street in terms of emerging collaboration. The audience provides feedback, the presenters receive it. However, someone might be in the audience and might become interested in your work based on a question or comment you bring up or how you tackled certain similar challenges. In the end, you might get contacted by someone that you share a lot of interests with, and you can help each other. You never know.
Type of Collaboration
Forms of and opportunities for collaboration
Research related collaboration
· Formal & informal platforms of exchange on brainstorming research ideas, discussing findings, or theorizing contributions
· Dare to initiate your own seminars with fellows on so far unaddressed topic at your university or field
· Friendly reviews
· Seminars on research methods, theory, philosophy
· Paper presentations at research seminars or conferences
· Find Summer/Winter Schools in Europe: link
· Find global research and course work opportunities: link
· Find courses on methods with CARMA: link
· Find workshops for PhD students with EIASM’s EDEN: link
Other collaborations (detached from individual research agenda)
· Platforms of mentoring
· “Getting involved” in local or international research groups to advance the field or support members of this field
· Get inspired and in contact with global PhD students with The Dissertation Coach’s offers: link
Beyond research: how to thrive in a myriad of initiatives
In terms of forms of or opportunities to collaborate beyond one’s research agenda, there are other educational or developmental offers that, for instance, address more general issues of working techniques like coping mechanisms, time management strategies, writing skills, and career advice. Such occasions are platforms where participants offer insights either based on professional knowledge or personal experience. Both enable participants at all career stages to improve their work approach. Overall, these occasions of learning can easily turn into opportunities for collaboration simply because you get in contact with like-minded people who seek to address similar challenges. Within the overlaps of interest lays the potential of mutual learning and alignment of activities that support your research efforts.
Lastly, there is the opportunity to “get involved” in initiatives that target a broader audience of the whole field. Take IFERA, here you can find a community of people that collectively provide a framework for a specialized field and aims to create and nurture an appreciative and supportive culture. It is a collaboration on an organizational level, that has an impact beyond individual research agendas and, therefore, grants different forms of rewards to those who help out with a little task there or a great response here.
Our point is, all collaboration counts, if they provide some form of benefit to you, i.e., emotionally, intellectually, and professionally. Once we become aware that these appointments in our schedule can be the next chance to develop a new skill, broaden our horizon, or engage in a new top-notch publication, we strengthen the collaborative culture we appreciate within and beyond our field. Thus, not all collaboration has to result in a publication, not all collaboration should be picked up if they only occupy your schedule. Instead, it is ok to say no to proposed research projects, and it is ok to pursue other currencies than publication because it should be about your personal and academic needs, less about the hunt for publication capital.