How do you negotiate a collaboration?
0 comment Sunday, April 20, 2014 |
Another little chunk of good karma: I've just landed myself what I think will be a pretty sweet collaboration with a super-nice PI that I met at the conference. I think hir hypothesis is really interesting, it complements my own research nicely, and I have a few unique tools and techniques at my disposal that should give us a better look at hir problem.At hir request we've been corresponding about some of the data I've generated and GrAdvisor has given his blessing ("do whatever you want") for me to share some results with hir. S/he has been very respectful of my time and left it up to me as to how involved I want to get with the data collection regarding hir questions (do the analysis myself and pass on the results, or just send raw samples). I would prefer to do the analysis myself IF it will get me authorship. In thinking about it, I would also like to apply my unique technique to this problem, and I hope I'll get co-authorship out of this contribution. Collaborating PI (CPI) has expressed interest in this technique, but wants to know more about my vision for the project and where I see myself fitting into it.Frankly, it's a little hard for me to say without knowing more about hir own vision for the project. We've really only chatted briefly about hir hypotheses and I mentioned that my tools and techniques could probably help hir arrive at some answers. S/he seems enthusiastic about me starting the experiments, but s/he is trying to get a similar system for this technique set up in hir lab in the meantime.So I guess it's important for us to outline exactly how this is supposed to work before we get started. I don't want to do the experiments (not trivial), send them the results, and then have them repeat it on their own system and leave me out of the authorship. I don't actually think that would happen - this PI has a long-standing reputation for being very fair and kind and generous and several people I know who have worked with hir have corroborated this.My hope is that I could hammer out a few of my unique-technique experiments, send them off to CPI, examine their results from completmentary experiments, and design/execute any further experiments that need to be done from my end with hir guidance (since s/he knows this system better than GrAdvisor and I). Depending on the proportion of my work to hir's, I'd like to be proportionally involved in the writing, and receive authorship rank accordingly. It seems appropriate that CPI be the last author on the paper since s/he is generating the hypotheses and other data sets.The trouble is, I really don't know what hir vision is for this project, beyond some rather nebulous information that we've sort of chatted about. S/he has mentioned that s/he's ruled out several hypotheses, but I don't know if those experiments are meant to be included in this collaborative publication or published elsewhere. It's also worth mentioning that someone else who has collaborated with hir says that I might have to provide a bit of the impetus to get things to publication. CPI runs a small lab, so resources can sometimes be redirected, and if it's a priority for me to get it published quickly (it is, since I won't have access to these tools after I graduate), then I will need to stay on top of hir progress and the publication timeline. If I had a better idea of what else is s/he would like to include in this study, it would be easier to decide whether this is worth it.Finally, GrAdvisor is leaving it totally up to me to negotiate this collaboration. I don't have the experience to know how much to ask for in terms of authorship relative to my contribution, nor the etiquette for these sorts of things. I don't think it's particularly common for students to handle this themselves and I certainly don't want to step on anyone's toes by making inappropriate requests.Any advice?

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