Researchers increasingly collaborate with colleagues who have the expertise
and/or resources needed to carry out a particular project. Collaborations
can be as simple as one researcher sharing reagents or techniques with
another researcher. They can be as complex as multi-centered clinical
trials that involve academic research centers, private hospitals, and
for-profit companies studying thousands of patients in different states
or even countries.
Any project that has more than one person working on it requires some
collaboration, i.e., working together. In most projects, however, one
person, commonly called the “principal investigator” or
PI, is in charge. Others work under the PI’s direction. In this
chapter, the focus will be on groups of researchers who are all more
or less equal partners working on a common, “collaborative”
In collaborative projects, researchers continue to have the responsibilities
discussed in other chapters in the ORI Introduction to RCR, but they
assume some additional responsibilities stemming from collaborative
relationships. These additional responsibilities arise from the added
- the increasingly complex roles and relationships;
- common, but not necessarily identical, interests;
- management requirements; and
- cultural differences
inherent in any large project but especially in collaborative projects.
Special attention to these added burdens can help keep collaborative
projects running smoothly.