As certain research questions and social needs have become increasingly complex, so have the projects that effectively address them. Such complex projects often benefit from, or even demand, collaboration among partners with varying disciplinary backgrounds and skill sets. Funding agencies are likely to be staffed by researchers and scholars who have been drivers of these trends, and therefore recognize and are responding to this shift. Thus, funding proposals that include collaborative (especially multi-disciplinary) approaches tend to be more competitive, assuming that such collaboration is justified. While the general funding trend is moving in favor of collaborative efforts, the tail should not wag the dog, as it were. The trend should never trump a precise research methodology, and funding cannot be the sole determinant of project structure, as proposal reviewers will easily recognize a forced and unnecessary collaboration.
This article begins to address this shift in the funding landscape, by exploring four reasons to collaborate.
Collaboration can lend strength to a grant proposal, when the decision to collaborate is a direct result of the needs of a particular project. Innovative approaches that bring new disciplines, methodologies, skills, or resources to bear on a problem or question can make for a more competitive funding proposal, as long as those approaches are justified by and appropriate to the task at hand.
Last year, OSP held a Chat Session on campus to discuss collaborations on large proposals. See the Activities & Outreach/NIU Events section of our website for a PowerPoint of that session.
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