Working collaboratively with colleagues either across UCL or other institutions can provide a wide variety of opportunities for research and cross-disciplinary innovation. It also provides the opportunity to reflect upon common accepted norms as these will vary between disciplines, institutions and countries.
It is important for researchers to understand that such differences exist and to consider these issues ahead of time; ideally reaching an agreement before the research commences. This allows for a clear agreement between the research team and helps to avoid potential disagreements or misunderstandings. The following are examples of things to consider.
As accepted norms vary across disciplines - from listing only those who have contributed to the writing of the papers itself, to a list of hundreds - it is even more important to have a discussion on authorship at the start of the research. Researchers may also wish to consider using a contribution statement to set out each member's contribution. (See Publication and Authorship for more information.)
- Ethical codes of conduct
Researchers are expected to work within a professional code of conduct which will vary depending on the researchers' disciplines. Though there will be similarities there will also be differences and so it is important to be open about the expectations placed on researchers by such codes of conduct and to discuss any differences ahead of time.
- Cross-institutional research
Institutions will have their own relevant policies and guidelines, such as research codes of conduct, data management policies and requirements for ethical approval. It is important for researchers to be aware of their own institutions' requirements and to discuss these with the research team. In turn, researchers should also be aware of the requirements of the other institutions involved in the research.
You should also consider who will own and/or be responsible for the data, or parts of the research data. Who will be responsible for archiving the data? Are there any copyright issues to consider? Will all researchers on the project be able to access and re-use the data after the project?
Researchers involved in international collaborative research should discuss with their international collaborators any variances in legislation that could impact upon the research, such as legislation relating to data protection. (See Research outside the UK for further information.)
- Common practice and terminology
There can often be standard practices or terminology that is widely accepted within a discipline that differs from the agreed standards or accepted meaning within another discipline or country. These can often be unspoken agreements or rules and therefore when designing research it is useful to ensure that such differences are discussed explicitly and not assumed to be agreed, especially when working with researchers outside of the UK where there is likely to also be cultural differences.
Further guidance on responsibilities in relation to cross-boundary research can be found in the Montreal Statement on research integrity in cross-boundary research collaborations 2011.