Traditionally, research projects were performed by individuals in their specific focus areas of expertise. Borders were invisible but uncrossable between subjects. Credit for the work was given solely to the scholar involved. But over time, the understanding of how collaboration brings more thoroughness and multiple perspectives to an idea has taken fruition, and today’s research has evolved to become predominantly multi-authored high collaboration work.
When teamwork is done well, this collaboration creates a project that culminates in a significantly more in-depth outcome than would have been possible through sole authorship. However, working with other people, by human nature, means obstacles in dealing with their personalities that have to be addressed in order for the goal of the research to be kept.
Benefits of Working as a Team
Research is a science, and as such, it builds upon foundational theories that have been proven over and over. One of those theories is that research projects performed in collaboration with others have better outcomes.
This isn’t an assumption based on institutions attempting to be more politically correct than in the past. This is a solid strategy that has been proven through decades of research on this exact topic.
Working as a team has consistently demonstrated multiple benefits, such as:
● The opportunity to engage in complex discussions to guide and inform strategies and postulate ideas as possible obstacles or guidelines for the project
● Collaborating on research and development practices throughout the project to prevent significant strain on one person
● Utilizing the strengths of each team member to overcome the weaknesses of an individual
● Creating team values and encouraging communication
● Allowing multiple individuals the chance of authorship to enhance their scholarship reputability
● Increased productivity while working as a group
All of these benefits, and more, can be had, if each participant in the group is able to facilitate their own behavior towards high collaboration. This isn’t always natural for individuals who prefer to work by themselves or who come into contact with conflicting personalities.
Drawbacks of Teamwork
While the benefits tend to outweigh the drawbacks in collaboration with research projects, there are disadvantages that must be addressed upfront in order to find ways to prevent and overcome them.
When researchers disagree, they must communicate their disagreements through healthy discussions until they come to a resolution. Otherwise, those disagreements can foster hostility and delays that affect the whole group and the project.
Other drawbacks occur when it comes to sitting down and deciding how authorship will be awarded. Assuming the credit will be given fairly is a quick way to end up in disagreement. Senior scientists often want primary credit, since it helps them achieve better funding in the future, but collaborating researchers also want to have solid authorship.
Yet another drawback to be aware of is the potential for team members to work together too well, which can also cause delays. When individuals share ideas and others want to validate their opinions, they can spend time on theories or similar projects that aren’t necessary to the existing research at hand.
Knowing about these potential obstacles ahead of time, scholars can watch for signs of them occurring and prevent delays.
Another way to ensure the best outcome for research is to focus on collaboration strategies for improved teamwork, such as:
● Carefully choosing who you work with. Just because someone is top of their field in an area doesn’t mean they’re going to work well with your personality and for the good of the project.
● Ensure that someone on the team is willing to lead and is able to provide quality leadership. Stepping in and being “in charge” doesn’t mean they will be a good leader. It’s easy to tell people what to do. It’s not so easy to make them want to do it willingly.
● Take the time early on to figure out the framework to follow. Create a procedural plan, a tentative timeline for deadlines and goals, and the expectations that should be followed to get there. Work out authorship before the project begins, not after it’s too late and the project is already in motion.
● Decide which tools the group will use to store data and collaborate digitally.
● Reinforce the importance of communication and transparency as a team.
● Set consequences for unnecessary delays and missed timelines, such as individual interventions from the leader.
With these strategies in place from the start, teamwork can run smoothly as everyone focuses on the ultimate outcome.
Let Your Team Collaborate Easily With Impactio
Impactio is an all-in-one platform that scholars around the world use to get their work published. With Impactio, your team can store their data, keep in contact with the others involved, and professionally create a paper that is ready to be submitted when the project is finished.
Impactio is the tool experts use to measure the impact of their work after it’s published, track citations, and network with a worldwide community of other Impactio members. For students and professional scientists, Impactio is the platform that does it all.