Collaboration between researchers from different institutions around the world is a key part of how science works, however collaboration has both advantages and disadvantages. In the past few months I have experienced each side of this but overall it has been positive.
One of the biggest difficulties is time differences, recently I was working with someone in London on images for a paper and this led to numerous delays as emails were only exchanged once a day due to the complete absence of overlapping working hours. Working on this led to a constant practice of drafting an image, emailing it to London and waiting til the next morning for feedback, whereas recently this colleague moved to Canberra and suddenly what took days previously could be achieved in 30 minutes with us both in front of the same monitor.When it comes to advantages of collaboration, the ability to work with other people is great as well as getting some external input to your work; however one of the big benefits is the opportunity to travel and work at other institutions. Last week I had the chance to visit the University of Tasmania in Hobart to perform some analysis using their electron microprobe and work with a member of my supervisory panel. As well as getting a solid amount of data (over 400 mineral compositions), I also had the chance to experience how another laboratory operates and get advice from different people. I also managed to escape Canberra’s big rains and enjoy slightly better weather, for instance last Wednesday whilst Canberra had 30 mm of rain I enjoyed a walk along the wharf in Hobart and sat in a pub overlooking the Derwent River for dinner.
Overall collaboration is always good for students and science in general as a way of spreading knowledge and gaining experience as well as providing more opportunities and contacts.