Home » Uncategorized » Guest Blog Post – Time to Team Up

The appended article was written by our media partner for the 3rd Asia Pacific Behavioural and Addiction Medicine Conference 2015.

Collaboration has become a hot topic among researchers in recent years, but how does it really manifest itself? Rebecca Torr discusses one of the key mega trends influencing the way we work and explains why it has never been more important.

A couple of months ago I attended Frost & Sullivan’s Growth, Innovation and Leadership 2015: Europe conference in London to speak to analysts about the new innovations expected to influence and shape businesses, societies and cultures. Connectivity and convergence came out as key mega trends driving change across all sectors and geographies. Also, increasingly crucial for the success of any organisation are the adoption of new business models and approaches such as open innovation, competition and collaboration.


For the sake of brevity, I’d like to focus on that last approach: collaboration. Collaboration is nothing new, every organisation talks about it. But what is new is our increasing ability to connect with others across the planet. Connectivity is changing the nature of our work and our success in the marketplace, and this trend is only going to continue. According to ISS’ 2020 Vision – New Ways of Working study “collaborative technologies will be at least 10 times better than they are today, and 100 times better 10 years from now”.

Advances in connectivity mean that collaboration is on the rise in all sectors. Let’s look at how this is reflected in academic research. The US National Science Foundation in its Science and Engineering Indicators 2014 report notes a rise in internationally co-authored articles, growing from 16 per cent to 25 per cent between 1997 and 2012. Similarly, The Royal Society estimates in its Science as an Open Enterprise 2012 report that more than 35 per cent of journal articles are based on international collaboration, up from 25 per cent 15 years ago. Research is going global.


So what impact does collaboration have on research? One crucial outcome of collaboration, particularly at the international level, is the bearing it has on citations. Although criticised, citation scores are still widely regarded as a measure for assessing the impact and quality of an article. The Royal Society’s 2011 report Knowledge, networks and nations: Global scientific collaboration in the 21st century notes that article citations increase with every additional collaborating country. For example, the report showed that in 2008 domestic research generated an average of almost four citations per article, rising to almost 12 when five countries collaborated. So multiple and global partnerships certainly do yield healthy returns.

Of course the reasons for collaboration extend much further than mere citation metrics. Collaboration provides researchers with greater access to resources, experts and techniques, as well as exposure to new ideas and knowledge. Funding bodies also look favourably on collaboration, so partnering with other universities may open doors to funding opportunities that were previously closed to a lone researcher.


Staying with our example of academic research, let’s consider what happens when universities collaborate with other sectors. This is particularly relevant in light of a recent drive by countries such as the UK and Australia to encourage and facilitate collaboration between universities and industry. Earlier this year, the Confederation of British Industry produced the Best of Both Worlds Report, which outlines effective ways universities and industries can work together, as well as the mutual benefits of such partnerships.

According to the report, by collaborating with businesses, universities have the opportunity to demonstrate research impact and improve market awareness. Staff also gain new insights that could enhance teaching and training programmes and students learn new skills that can increase employability. Such partnerships also spell clear advantages for businesses, not least because of greater access to leading academics, as well as R&D resources and funding for collaborative research – all helping to improve a company’s competitiveness and encourage growth. So it’s a win-win.


With all the benefits that collaboration promises, the question worth asking, then, is what difference could it make to you, your work or your organisation? And while you are pondering that, I will leave you with the words of thought leader John C Maxwell, taken from his daily instalment of A Minute with Maxwell:

“Collaboration means valuing other people […] it means recognising that within ourselves we do not have the tools necessary to pull off the success and the dream that we want. […] Collaboration is the only way to compound great ideas. […] A great idea doesn’t come out of a vacuum and a great idea doesn’t come from a single thought. A great idea is the compilation of several good ideas put together on a table – and that is what collaboration does for you and me.”


Rebecca Torr is a Senior Editor at International Innovation, a global resource providing insight and analysis on current scientific research trends, as well as funding and policy issues.


One thought on “Guest Blog Post – Time to Team Up

  1. I want to say thnx you for creating this great blog and keep up the great job!

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