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How does one decide upon a scientific collaborator?
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No single laboratory can possess all the necessary skills and hence collaboration is necessary. Collaborations are hard and time-consuming. There can be competing interests. Also, the intentions and the degree of commitment of a collaborator may seem unclear. Thus, it can be hard to decide if a collaboration would be truly useful.

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This is a complicated question that has been studied by a number of different social science communities. I'd recommend looking at the CSCW, Information Science and CHI literature in particular. The most applicable to your question might be Jeremy Birnholtz's work ; or, a personal favorite is the concept of a "doable problem" in cancer research by Joan Fujimura

The Olsons (Judith and Gary) have also studied collaboration for many years.. they have a trove of publications and a project called the "Collaboration Success Wizard" that helps teams of researchers try to decide just this question.

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