Breakout session 3
Professor Sara Rankin, Professor of Leukocyte and Stem Cell Biology at the National Heart and Lung Institute, Imperial College London and artist Gina Czarnecki discussed their practical experiences of collaborating across disciplinary boundaries.
This session demonstrated how unlikely cross-disciplinary collaborations can generate exciting and unexpected outcomes, and prompt delegates to consider where they might seek similar experiences. Biomedical researcher Rankin explained how her public engagement activities have transformed her professional identity, widened her professional network and informed her scientific research. Artist Czarnecki discussed how her interactions and collaborations with a number of scientists and healthcare workers has enriched her practice. Together the breakout session leaders talked about their current collaboration (see coverage of some of this work on the BBC web site). Reflecting on Rankin and Czarnecki’s experiences, delegates considered the notion of “deep” collaboration through the two-way process of mutual influence, and the nature of “real” public engagement that runs throughout research, development and production, where public engagement can shape research and outcomes.
View this presentation at Slideshare
BBC Coverage of the Palaces project [web site]
The rapporteur for this session was Dr Michael Jubb from the Research Information Network. He provided the following notes about the outcomes from this session around three key themes…
1. Generating ideas and potential collaborations
Use all your networks and friends, not just your fellow academics or practitioners. Seek out conferences and workshops from outside your normal fields of operation. Look for connections and joint interests.
2. Incentives and benefits
Many research funders are now putting an emphasis on ‘big challenge’ research questions, and on impact and outreach, which bring with them the need to be creative in thinking about the big picture as well as detailed research questions.
Working across disciplines forces you to be creative and to look for connections, and to think about different kinds of output. It also brings the possibility of reaching different kinds of audience. And an unusual scope often of itself generates interest and goodwill from partners.
3. Working together
Working collaboratively may often involve stitching different smaller projects together, funded from different funding organisations; and some challenges in looking for funding from unusual sources.
Collaboration depends on trust, being clear about the skills and expertise that each party brings to the table, and being prepared to cede control.