Those who play an active role in developing research projects from start to finish know that the work gets done more thoroughly when it’s performed by groups. The phrase “two heads are better than one” applies in magnified numbers when multiple scholars get together and attempt to solve the same problem.
Because multiple perspectives are used to address a situation and many different strengths are combined, research groups are a popular method of solving problems today. But all those different personas mean clashing personalities if the group isn’t careful.
For the work to be wholly effective, impactful discussions among the research group must be encouraged and enacted throughout the life of the project. If not, it can hinder the results.
Benefits of Teamwork Versus Individual Experiments
There are significant advantages in research when one person is able to put aside their ideas and work with a team to compromise for the good of the overall outcome.
As individuals, we have strengths and weaknesses. Our skillsets are limited and our knowledge is also, no matter how smart and talented we are. However, when we work with others, they often have skills where ours lack and can see perspectives that we may have missed. They cover our weaknesses with their strengths, in other words, and we do the same for them.
When researchers work in teams, this is magnified because the research project is often important enough to drive academic or societal change. As a team, researchers are able to take on complex challenges that individuals would not be able to address due to the overwhelming workload or time constraints that are often involved.
Drawbacks of Working as a Team
A common problem in the field of academia is that it is frequently a competitive arena. It can be challenging to always be the innovator in a particular subject or field to stay ahead of the competition, compete for funding, and get published in prestigious journals.
Because of the competitive factor, many researchers want to work on their own to ensure they get the credit for their effort and research outcome. As a team, that credit is often shared, and if the team does not decide before the work begins how the submission is going to be published when it comes to the order of researchers who worked on the project, this can cause dissension and conflict.
Another drawback can be the difficulty that comes with getting multiple personalities to work together without tension and arguments. Research projects by nature have a lot of pressure that come with them because of the importance of the outcome that is pending the work, the stakeholders, funders, and superiors who are involved and must be kept informed along the way, and the work itself. Combining all that pressure with people who don’t get along can be a recipe for disaster.
But when you put the team together strategically from the start and assign a leader to the group who is strong at handling multiple personalities, the expected discrepancies that are sure to arise can be addressed quickly before the affect the deadlines in the project and spread to the entire time.
When it comes to the workload, if the duties aren’t clearly assigned and clarified from the start, this can be another instance where teamwork becomes a hassle. A duty that no one wants to handle may be shrugged off as anyone’s job and no one does it. On the other side of the coin, a job that everyone enjoys but only one person can do can end up being the cause of contention. The job duties must be determined before the work starts, and everyone needs to know what is expected of them.
Advocating for Impactful Discussion
Once all of these challenges are addressed and the work is ready to begin, the group must understand the importance of communication. This is important for you to learn how to advocate for whether you’re the leader of your group or not.
To ensure an impactful discussion is able to be had, start with a neutral and engaging climate. The environment you’re in is important. It can’t be loud or feel rushed.
In addition to the place of discussion, as a valued member of the team who also wants others to feel appreciated and create an insightful movement towards completing the project, consider including these aspects:
● Prepare ahead for a guided discussion. Have the upcoming deadlines written out to discuss the challenges of meeting them and how the work is going. Consider having a detailed outline to guide the meeting.
● Remind all members to listen for understanding, not to respond. Set ground rules for not talking over each other and being respectful.
● Coach each member to be included, even those who are reticent and would rather not talk. Make them feel like what they have to say is valuable to the whole team.
● Set a goal for the meeting before it occurs. Let everyone know the goal ahead of time, remind them at the beginning of the meeting, and make sure it’s met before everyone leaves.
With these strategies, meetings among team members can be short so everyone can get back to their schedules, but still impactful.
Using Impactio as Part of Your Research
Your research team includes those who work with you towards an outcome, but it also encompasses the tools you use along the way. One of these main tools is your means of communicating with each other and housing your data. When you use Impactio to get the job done, everything you and your team need is all in one platform.
With Impactio, you can gather all your research work, citation and publication data easily, Working together through Impactio, your team's communications and discussion will be more smoothly and efficiently.