While a lot of my blog post writing focuses on my internal process, the things that are specifically on my to do list tend to call for working with, relying on, and collaborating with other people.  While this is rather standard for researchers in most fields (there is a reason we see “et al” at the end of citations), adding the bonus challenge of OA to the project is an extra.

Working with research partners

Collaborating with research and writing partners has been an interesting new challenge for me. While I’ve done college journalism, blogs, articles, presentations, etc., the vast majority of it has been under my solo byline. Writing with research partners is a lot more like my LITA Committee work than me with a keyboard or pen and ink.  Here are things I’ve come across so far that may help you play research well with others:

  • Figure out who is in charge of your project. If you’re the person supposed to be in charge of the project, that means you need to come up with to do lists, and deadlines, and be project manager. Delegating and assigning is important but if you say you’ll do this and don’t, things will lapse and become frustrating for all involved.
  • Delegate and make assignments. I’m not especially good at this but I’m getting better (thank you, good friends who are suffering through the delegation process with me).
  • Know who is doing what by when. This can be as simple as a bullet point list on a document, a spreadsheet with names in one column, or you can start using project management software.
  • Ask for help. Not sure if your survey looks good? Having trouble narrowing the scope? Struggling with the latest literature search? Talk to other people in your institution or in your peer network. Someone will know and, wonderfully, many people are usually willing to help.
  • Get together. One of my research partners is one of the busiest women I know. She’s awesome and all over the place. And if we don’t have a set meeting scheduled we’re both perfectly happy to let things run off the rails. Meetings where we have to hold each other accountable help with that. These don’t have to be in person either, I collaborate with people in another state and another country; we Skype.*
  • Designate and protect time. This is so hard, particularly when you’re trying to combine research and “regular faculty stuff” with being in a profession that has service as it’s focus. I have overridden more research time scheduled on my calendar for students or my liaison faculty and there are frequent times I’ve had it overridden by people to whom it would be impolitic to say no. Block your calendar however you can, refuse meetings during those times, the world will go on.
  • Be realistic on how long something takes. When you’re planning when you’ll have things done and you know you only have a couple of protected hours between now and your due date, realize what is and isn’t going to happen. Figure out what you can whittle down, if someone else can take on part of the burden, or if there’s a part that you need to let go–for now.
  • Let go or put on hold. One of my projects was taking up too much brain power right now that I really didn’t have available. It’s time intensive and requires not only me working but others as well.  Madame Mentor suggested** that it go on hold until I pass the 3Y paperwork deadline this fall.  Setting it aside was an enourmous relief and I’m hopeful that when I come back to it that I’ll be excited rather than frustrated.

The OA part of it

As you saw from the post it notes, I’m in the middle of several research projects. I’m fortunate in that most of my research collaborators are people who feel as strongly about openly sharing our research as I do.  With them, I didn’t even have to bring the question up because  it was a given that our work would be Gold OA.  But it’s not always that simple.

Recently I was invited to potentially collaborate on a small project with another coworker.  We discussed a few of the details after a meeting and then I headed back to my cube. It wasn’t until about 15 minutes later that the Open Access question popped up in my head and I had to send off a quick email pointing out this requirement of mine. It wasn’t the easiest email to write, putting yourself out there for rejection and potentially damaging a work relationship is never fun.  I was lucky, the coworker emailed back within a few minutes, agreeing very adamantly to a Gold OA publication and suggesting a journal where we might consider first.

Whether I’ll “miss out” on projects in the future from this limitation remains to be seen. Short of that book chapter last year, I haven’t had anyone back away from me yet and certainly I have plenty on my plate right now. Speaking of which, I really should get that edited, updated, and out somewhere else, shouldn’t I? Anybody know where a copy of that manuscript is?

*That being said, I’m trying to find good reasons to show up on their doorsteps to visit and work on stuff together.

**We might also use the word ordered but that might be too strong of language :-p