Making multi-institution collaborations work – is there a secret sauce?

Paper
Elycia Wallis, Museums Victoria, Australia

Published paper: Making multi-institution collaborations work – is there a secret sauce?

Almost any project, large or small, requires the collaboration of participants. And these participants will bring with them different skills, knowledge, professional background and their own outlook and perspective. Negotiating the expectations and opinions of diverse teams within an organisation can be challenging enough but what happens in projects that require the collaboration of participants in different organisations? In this paper, multi-institutional and, indeed, multinational collaboration will be investigated. Two case studies will be used as illustrative examples to explore the nature of collaboration – and how to undertake collaboration successfully. The first example is the development of a series of Field Guide apps that have been produced by a partnership of eight museums around Australia. These apps were successfully released on 1 May 2014; the result of two years of work by scientists, photographers, project coordinating staff, designers and programmers. The second example is the Biodiversity Heritage Library global group. The Biodiversity Heritage Library is a project that aims to make freely available full text digitised literature via a dedicated website. This project now has nodes around the world, and a global committee has been established to act as a communication tool and reporting forum. In the case of the global Biodiversity Heritage Library, challenges for collaboration include such practical things as dealing with time zones to find teleconference opportunities, dealing with different first languages within the group, and finding funding to attend global meetings.This paper will explore barriers and benefits to collaboration and will provide some insights into what can make collaborative projects succeed.

Bibliography:
Almost any project, large or small, requires the collaboration of participants. And these participants will bring with them different skills, knowledge, professional background and their own outlook and perspective. Negotiating the expectations and opinions of diverse teams within an organisation can be challenging enough but what happens in projects that require the collaboration of participants in different organisations? In this paper, multi-institutional and, indeed, multinational collaboration will be investigated. Two case studies will be used as illustrative examples to explore the nature of collaboration – and how to undertake collaboration successfully. The first example is the development of a series of Field Guide apps that have been produced by a partnership of eight museums around Australia. These apps were successfully released on 1 May 2014; the result of two years of work by scientists, photographers, project coordinating staff, designers and programmers. The second example is the Biodiversity Heritage Library global group. The Biodiversity Heritage Library is a project that aims to make freely available full text digitised literature via a dedicated website. This project now has nodes around the world, and a global committee has been established to act as a communication tool and reporting forum. In the case of the global Biodiversity Heritage Library, challenges for collaboration include such practical things as dealing with time zones to find teleconference opportunities, dealing with different first languages within the group, and finding funding to attend global meetings.This paper will explore barriers and benefits to collaboration and will provide some insights into what can make collaborative projects succeed.