How do Find the Perfect Research Co-author?

Recently, there has been an increase in the number of articles written by several authors in various academic disciplines. The knowledge that is shared in teams expands the scope of science. Collaborating and co-writing with other researchers has many benefits. For instance, it makes the research more efficient because each writer brings his/her expertise into the team. In addition, intercultural and interdisciplinary team members are likely to be more creative and open-minded about the issue they want to study. Moreover, having more co-authors leads to sharing the responsibilities and distributing roles in the team which facilitates the work. A diverse research team working on a project will help increase the scope of the findings. In addition, research teams with gender and ethnic diversity can offer a variety of perspectives!

Collaborating in research is associated with a lot of responsibility. Working with other authors can be challenging given the different perspectives they offer. Co-authors may have different attitudes about the study design and workflow, different levels of commitment to different tasks, or they may have different writing styles. A research project may deviate from its original policy or fail if the team is not properly coordinated. So to make the most out of the partnership, you need a strategic approach.

What to Look for in a Potential Co-author?

To facilitate successful and rewarding partnerships, it is important, to be honest about your strengths and weaknesses. Knowing what you are lacking can help you find co-authors who have strengths in those areas.

Complementary Skills

Is your potential co-author good at ideating and designing experimental work, or are you good at using statistical tools? Does your potential co-author specialize in the topic you are working on and can help you approach the problems? Having a co-author with complementary strengths guarantees further achievements due to the division of workload and expertise in different areas.

Work Ethics

Does your co-author have a good work ethic? Does s/he respond to your emails on time? Do they keep their promises? Does your co-author devote time and energy to brainstorming, designing, and analyzing the research work? Another question to answer is whether your co-author is challenging you to do your best.

Importance of Diversity

Diversify your list of co-authors with researchers from different disciplines. Diversity is essential for the overall quality of your work. Senior and junior researchers bring their strengths to the team. Having co-authors from different disciplines means having a wider perspective on your research. In addition, it ensures that your work is available to a wider audience. Also, surveys show that published articles written by more ethnically diverse authors have more citation counts.

Writing Skills

Identify the authors with good writing skills. Before discussing with them about co-authorship, ask for a sample of one of their previously published articles so you can decide if this collaboration will be fruitful.

Attributes of a Co-author

Although knowledge and experience are essential, your potential co-author should also enjoy working on your research. Your co-author must be motivated and make every effort to meet the demands of the project. In addition, your co-author must have good academic credentials. A well-known author who is respected for her/his contribution to science is always a great choice as they can help you strengthen the originality and credibility of your work.

How to Find Diverse Co-Authors?

  • Ask your mentors/supervisors for co-authorship opportunities.
  • Email one or two ideas to researchers you have met at conferences. Follow up with them to find out if they are interested in working with you.
  • Connect with potential partners through social networks, such as ORCiD, LinkedIn, Twitter, and ResearchGate.
  • Use search engines and databases to find information about prolific authors with high citation counts in your field.
  • Collaboration with researchers with high citation counts is beneficial, especially for young researchers.

Challenges of Collaboration

Collaboration has challenges at different levels, such as funding, accepting different work styles, and communication. Achieving consensus is critical to the success of any research project that involves multiple authors. In order for a research project not to be boring and also remain valuable, the authors must have patience, empathy, and curiosity. Improper work ethic or the selection of an incompatible research partner may lead to delays or premature termination of the project. So, to ensure the timely and satisfactory completion of the research project, you must be careful about your collaboration with other authors. Let us look at some things you can do differently to get the most out of co-authorship.

Authorship Roles

• Have an open and clear discussion about goals, interests, roles, and responsibilities.

• Define the goals of authorship at the beginning of the project.

• Decide jointly on authorship criteria and clearly define tasks so that there is no disagreement about authorship at the time of publication.

  • Define clear goals of the job of each author and ensure that the tasks are distributed realistically and impartially.

Appreciate the Differences

• Optimization of demographic and intellectual diversity is necessary to optimize research results.

• Get familiar with the authors’ expectations, cultural norms, and moral values, especially for fellow writers of other ethnicities.

Believe in Teamwork

Practice co-creation of ideas and strategies instead of insisting on your own thoughts.


• Communication is the key. To avoid any conflicts and misunderstandings, be clear, explicit, and transparent during your collaboration.

• Inform all co-authors equally about the progress and problems of the project.

• Discuss the research timeline and create a realistic plan.

• Record all discussions and agreements. It is easier to resolve conflicts when you have a collaborative agreement on paper.

Give Credit Where It Is Due

  • Ensure fair and equitable distribution of resources.
  •  Give researchers fair credit, regardless of gender, ethnicity, career status, etc.

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