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The more we get together : the politics of collaborative research between university-based and non university-based researchers Niks, Marina I.

Abstract

In the last decade there has been an increased interest in collaborative relationships between universities and other sectors of society. In research, the "partnership trend" has translated into collaborative research projects between university-based and non university-based researchers. This dissertation explores the experiences and understandings of university-based and non university-based researchers about their collaborative work. Specifically, this study looks at the motivation social researchers have to engage in collaborative projects, how their understandings of research and of collaboration influence the relationships they establish with each other and the conditions that participants believe promote collaborative research. The research is based on in depth interviews with twelve university-based and non university-based researchers who have had experience in collaborative research. The researchers interviewed chose to engage in collaborative research because they believe it is an approach that has the potential to involve different perspectives and enrich the research process, resulting in benefits to the community and to the university. The fact that many of the projects described by the researchers were ultimately in the hands of university-based researchers meant that formal academic ways of understanding and doing research were followed. Funding requirements and a lack of fit between academic reward systems and collaborative research processes strongly influence the kinds of collaborative relationships that university-based researchers can and choose to establish. These influences often mean that traditional academic notions of research overpower the collaborative process, limiting the potential of different perspectives to emerge. Collaborative research has the potential to become a space where researchers from different locations come together to generate knowledge. For this potential to be realized, all collaborating researchers' perspectives have to be considered as valid. This consideration would require a deconstruction of the conceptions of research that researchers bring to the relationship. The study ends with a strategy for those researchers who are considering building collaborative relationships to engage in conversations that explore the meanings of research they bring to the project as well as an analysis of how their locations influence the relationships they build and the knowledge they can generate individually and collectively.

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