Recognizing and Nuturing Research Collaborations: What is Known and What is Not?

Joanne Belknap, University of Colorado at Boulder
Carolyn Rebecca Block, Illinois Crim Justice Info Authority
Angela Moore Parmley, National Institute of Justice

This paper reviews the current literature and the "state of the art" on methods of building and maintaining practitioner/researcher collaborative research. It then outlines issues for further examination, including the following:

--Funding agencies like NIJ and CDC may include "collaboration" in an RFP (request for proposals), but how do they know it when they see it? Are there criteria for a "true" collaboration, and if so, what are they? If a research project wants to be more collaborative, how can it do so?

--What are the advantages and disadvantages of identifying "best practice" collaborative practitioner/researcher research projects?

--When a research project wants to be more collaborative, does it help to attract project members who are skilled collaborators? Can collaboration skills be learned? Can people be trained in collaboration skills? Can we even identify what collaboration skills are?

--On the other hand, perhaps we can't teach collaboration skills, but we can facilitate them. How can we reward practitioner/research collaboration within a research project?

--How can funding agencies nurture and reward practitioner/researcher collaborations? Do the standard practices of funding agencies sometimes create obstacles to collaboration?

--What are the rewards of research collaboration from the practitioners' point of view? What are options for agencies that are interested in having reesearch done, but have little resources (money and time) to contribute? Since practitioners are not researchers, for the most part, are there guidelines for the often intimidating process of approaching academics? How can agencies find the right researcher?

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Updated 05/20/2006