The following are benefits of collaboration (Loan-Clarke & Preston, 2002):
Collaboration ensures a more effective use of individual talents. Modern research is increasingly complex and demands an ever widening range of skills. Often, no single individual possesses all the knowledge, skills, and techniques required. In principle, an individual might be able to learn or acquire all the techniques needed to solve a particular problem, but this can be very time consuming. If two or more researchers collaborate, there is a greater probability that among them they will possess the necessary range of skills.
A second and closely related benefit is the transfer of knowledge or skills. Much knowledge may be tacit and remain so until researchers have had the time to deliberate and set out their findings in a publication. Frequently, considerable time elapses before the knowledge appears in written form. Collaboration is one way of transferring new knowledge, especially tacit knowledge. Furthermore, research requires not only scientific and technical expertise, but also the social and management skills needed to work as part of a team. These cannot be readily taught in the classroom-they are best learned on the job by engaging graduate students or postdoctoral researchers in collaborative activities.
Collaboration may be a source of stimulation and creativity. A third benefit of collaboration may result from a clash of views or a cross-fertilization of ideas that may in turn generate new insights or perspectives that individuals working on their own would not have grasped or grasped as quickly (Loucks-Horsley et al.,1998). Hence, collaboration is greater than the sum of its parts. Such benefits are likely to be the largest when the collaboration involves partners from more divergent backgrounds. The difficulties, however, in working productively together may then also be greater.
Collaboration provides intellectual companionship. Research can be a lonely endeavor, especially if one searches the frontiers of knowledge where few, if any, have gone before. A researcher can partly overcome that intellectual isolation through collaboration.
Collaboration extends the individual researcher's networks. An individual researcher may have contacts with 50 or 100 other researchers in his or her field around the world who can be contacted for information or advice. By collaborating with others, the network can be extended and further productivity ensured.
Collaboration enhances dissemination of projects. Using the increased network capability, findings can be disseminated more widely, either formally through publications and conference presentations or informally through discussions. The chances are greater that literature review searches will produce one of the collaborating authors, increasing the likelihood that the results of the research will be located and used by others. The findings are therefore likely to have greater impact.