March 20, 2011


Things are falling into place with the collaboration that I vaguely discussed in an earlier post. The project is still in the preliminary stage -- so far, we have looked at crosstabulations and written a proposal -- but I'm still finding it energizing to work with another person on research.

I think it's because I feel like on this project, I am collaborating as an equal. My collaborator is a professor, but she is not on my committee or even in my department, so it's not a power relationship. I'm not at her mercy like I am with the professors who decide if and when I will graduate. I will probably feel inclined to defer to her if we disagree, but for the most part, it feels like teamwork, and I'm excited about sharing ideas and writing something that will benefit from both of our contributions.

I know that collaborations can become messy, stressful nightmares. I've collaborated with faculty members multiple times, and I've had good and bad experiences. I worked on a project by myself for a year, and then it got taken over by professors who treated me like the RA: They made decisions that I disagreed with and expected me to implement them, and it was incredibly demoralizing. I've also had good experiences. I collaborated with my current advisor on a paper, and he valued my ideas and let me write some of the paper, and I'm proud of the result.

So I'm not naive and thinking that collaborations are always wonderful. But I think I've had enough crappy experiences to know when something will be good, and I'm excited about this project. I just have to make sure that I continue to prioritize my dissertation when it's tempting to devote too much time to my little side project.


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