Outlook: A Quarterly Newsletter of the Society of Behavorial Medicine
Winter 2011 Return to Outlook Main page »

Encouraging Collaboration: The Graduate Student Perspective

Kay Grant, BS, Student SIG Outlook Liaison
Jennifer Kowalsky, BA, BSc, Student SIG Outlook Liaison

Among the myriad things we do as students - studying, writing, reading, and trying to stay ahead of the caffeine crash - it is easy to miss the potential to collaborate with others. Students can make their research more comprehensive and their student careers a more enriching experience by engaging with each other, their mentors, and other experts in their respective fields. Oftentimes, we get so immersed in our own departments that we forget there may be colleagues from other departments or universities who share our research interests and who may welcome the opportunity to collaborate. Collaboration can help us gain new perspectives, learn new research methodologies, and broaden our network of colleagues, all of which will help create a foundation for success in our future research and career endeavors. Students usually think of collaboration as something they plan to do after graduation; however, seeking opportunities for collaboration during the course of graduate studies can help set the stage for lasting partnerships that will improve the quality of our research and, ultimately, the outcomes we strive to improve for public health. Here are some ideas to promote collaboration:

  1. Take advantage of your graduate student peers. Seek out students who share your research interests and discuss opportunities for co-authoring a presentation or a manuscript. This is a great way to share both the workload and the rewards.
  2. Investigate the research interests of faculty members in other departments at your university and initiate contact. Perhaps this faculty member would be willing to serve on you dissertation committee. Take advantage of meetings to discuss your dissertation to also explore opportunities for collaboration.
  3. Interact with presenters at SBM's annual meeting. Perhaps the data they presented inspired new research questions that may be collaboratively explored. On the other hand, perhaps you have data they may be interested in learning about.
  4. SBM provides a member directory that allows you to search by specialty, geographic location, profession, and even SBM membership type (i.e., Student/Trainee, Fellow, Associate, or Emeritus member). We encourage you to make use of this valuable tool to seek out potential collaborators.