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Close colleagues spark bright ideas


Researchers might need to be near their collaborators to break new ground, says John Whitfield

Researchers have long been used to remote working. Projects involving far-flung colleagues and the use of technology—email, video calls, messaging apps and document drops—are commonplace for those in nearly all disciplines.

It should be no surprise, then, that the debate around the post-pandemic return to the office that has raged in many industries has largely passed research by. With solid evidence that international collaborations are on average more highly cited, some have even argued that collaboration has little need of contact.

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