- Higher impact publications: There is a direct correlation between the number of authors and impact factor. Not much more needs to be said. This is probably more a reflection of the fact that good science requires the combined efforts of many good scientists.
- More creativity: Interestingly enough, when you study broadway musicals those that had a balance of people who had worked together before and complete strangers were the most successful. Collaborations tend to encourage such mixtures.
- Future: Collaborations are always filled with potential. Those you collaborate with today will think of you tomorrow when they are putting together a 20 million euro grant proposal.
- Less work: Done well, collaboration means less work for everyone without compromising on results.
- Criticism: Collaborators are more likely to tell you that in reality you are not wearing any clothes. Debating ideas is also important for creativity and achieving Group Genius
- Ability to bring more experience to bare: Once you have conceived the idea for a project, the work becomes a series of problems you have to solve. Tapping into the distributed intelligence of a group increases you chances of solving problems more efficiently.
- Efficient learning: Papers, books, SOPs tend to tell you how to do something, but don’t give you a sense of what it is to actually do that something. Seeing how a team of experts solves a problem is the best learning that there is. In fact, where else can you have such ready access to ask questions of people who are actually doing what you are interested in. Caution. Don’t fall into the trap of thinking that your non-expert question will annoy the experts. Quite to the contrary such questions are the highest form of flattery.
- Wider array of techniques: Within any give lab group, department, institution, or company there are only so many techniques available to answer the scientific questions that interest you. Collaboration makes all techniques available.
- Deeper research: In a collaboration you are forced to do more that clip the top of trees. A concern that is often raised is that other will steal your ideas. If your ideas are easily stolen, face it, they are not deep enough. If someone does steal your shallow ideas you should be happy. Then you can move on the deeper more interesting aspects.
- Funding: Getting funding in Europe and the US it is typically much easier in the context of a collaboration. Funding agencies believe in the power of collaboration, so should you.
- Increased number of publications: Related to #9 above, the deeper the research the more publications. Plus, your work is less likely to be a one hit wonder when you already have a whole group of people working on the same topic.
- Students and post docs: There is no better way to find good staff than networking. There are no better and more concrete networks than the networks that are built through collaborations.
- Patents: In this day and age the increasing complexity of research technology and the explosion of measurable variables require multi-faceted approaches that can only be achieved in collaboration.
- Higher likelihood of having a spinoff: Similar to the above, its unlikely that working on your own you will know enough or have the ability to create a spinoff company.
- Fun: When we first got word that we were successful with the U-BIOPRED proposal, the Coordinator, Peter Sterk said “This is going to be so much fun.” It is no fun to party on your own. The same is true for research.
- Knowledge of what others are doing: You can read papers or look at patent filings, yet there is no better way to know what others are doing than talking to them. In industry and in research it is always best to be where everyone else is.
- Less risk: There are many more degrees of freedom with a collaborative network than there are with a single lab following a single line of research. Risk mitigation is much easier when you have a whole group to draw upon.
- Agility: When you are working in a collaborative network and you come across an unexpected finding, it is far more likely that you can exploit that finding in the setting of a collaboration.
- Early adopters: You collaboration partners are almost by definition your early adopters for your novel approach, new technology, or new hypothesis. You can also think about it as the best way to foster paradigm shift. It all begins with a dedicated group of core believers.
- Impressing investors: That what you are doing is accepted by a group of leaders in the field is no better argument for convincing investors. This is also true for funding agencies.
This celebratory image from the Indian Space Research Organisation hails the Sept. 24, 2014 arrival (Indian Standard Time) of the Mangalyaan spacecraft in orbit around Mars.
Let us rise and shine like the sun
If you have eagerness in your heart, it means you are alive,
If your eyes are filled with dreams, it means you are alive
Learn to be free like the wind,
Learn to flow freely like the river,
Embrace every moment with open arms,
See a new horizon every time with your eyes,
If you carry surprise in your eyes, it means you are alive,
If you have eagerness in your heart, it means you are alive…