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How to build collaborative relationships for research

David Gauntlett, media and communications professor at the University of Westminster, offers some personal reflections on the value of collaborations, and how researchers in the arts, humanities and social sciences can develop effective ones.

Despite the how-to title above, I shouldn’t really be dispensing relationship advice to anyone. For many years I was your standard individual researcher, writing a number of single-authored books, and leading research projects where the main academic was myself.

But we are all aware that the funding councils wish researchers to collaborate more. And, importantly, it’s actually a good thing to do. To state the obvious, working with other humans broadens the perspectives available to you, and introduces surprising thoughts, references and interpretations. Even when it disrupts the smooth running of things, this can lead to better outcomes. And I say this as the kind of control freak who usually feels that things run best when no-one else is in a position to mess them up.

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