Research Ethics Resource Center - Collaborative Science

Today, it is unlikely that a single researcher’s work will answer the ‘big questions’ in his or her field. The increase in collaboration across disciplines, institutions and industries presents several advantages. By combining unique expertise, resources and technology, investigators are able to address issues that are multifaceted and cannot be adequately addressed using one single approach. While these collaborations are often beneficial to all concerned, there are also problems that arise in the course of collaboration. Therefore, the rules of engagement in collaborative endeavors must always be clearly stated and understood.

Training Modules

  • Collaborative Science by Columbia University
    This educational module examines the benefits and potential problems that researchers face when engaging in collaborative and multidisciplinary research. Material covered includes identifying the problems that may occur in collaborative research; ways to enhance collaborative research; the institutional processes involved in collaborative research; ethical considerations in collaborative research; and resources available to deal with collaborative research. Includes case studies, Q&A and opportunities for reflection.
  • Interactive Module on Collaboration by Northern Illinois University
    A self-paced learning module intended for those in the early stages of their research careers and for those involved in supporting or training research staff and students. The purpose of this module is to expand researchers’ awareness of collaborative research issues and to help those involved in research activities to become proactive and better prepared to deal with any issues that may arise during the course of a project. However, the module does not provide any particular strategies for addressing ethical or moral dilemmas that may arise when pursuing research endeavors.
  • Collaborative research-related topics have been organized to reflect the developmental stages of collaboration, and include topics such as the need for collaboration; types and format of collaboration; stages of collaboration; establishing relationships; working together; identifying and resolving challenges; and choosing to continue or conclude the collaboration. The module includes quizzes, games and simulation activities. Anywhere between 3-5 hours may be required to go through the content and the activities fully.
  • Collaborative Research by The Online Ethics Center for Engineering and Science at Case Western Reserve University
    Includes a number of scenarios relevant to collaborative research such as authorship, sharing of ideas, acknowledgement of others’ contributions, etc. Each scenario contains instances when awareness of responsible conduct of research is necessary. These modules do not provide guidelines as to what one should do, but they can be useful for stimulating classroom or lab group discussion.



When Collaborations End

    Collaborations end for a variety of reasons. Ethical issues in these situations include:

    • Who will maintain any common research records?
    • Can co-authors use materials from joint papers for future independent publications?
    • How will promising follow-up research be divided among former collaborators?



International collaborations

Office of the Vice President for Research
Western Michigan University
210 W Walwood Hall
Kalamazoo, MI 49008-5456 USA
(269) 387-8298 | (269) 387-8276 Fax