Collaboration planning

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Purpose: To lay the groundwork for effective team functioning by assessing a range of factors that influence the likelihood and degree of collaborative success.

Description: Ten key influences on the likelihood and degree of collaborative success have been identified by reviewing the literature. Team members are encouraged to develop a collaboration plan that addresses these influences on teamwork (the following is taken, often verbatim, from Hall et al, 2019):

  1. Rationale for team approach and team composition
  2. Collaboration readiness
  3. Technological readiness
  4. Team functioning
  5. Communication and coordination
  6. Leadership, management and administration
  7. Conflict prevention and management
  8. Training
  9. Quality improvement activities
  10. Budget/resource allocation

1. Rationale for team approach and team composition
The collaboration plan should:

  • justify why the particular scientific questions and goals require a team approach
  • describe how the team configuration meets the proposed research objectives (eg., how each team member contributes uniquely)
  • discuss considerations for assembling the team (eg., what expertise is needed, history of collaboration)
  • specify key stakeholders and relevant contributions of team members across the research phases.

2. Collaboration readiness
The collaboration plan should provide evidence for collaborative readiness associated with:

  • intrapersonal skills and characteristics of individual members
  • interpersonal skills and capacity of the team as a unit
  • institutions and organisations involved, especially
    • alignment of rewards and recognition for team-based research
    • availability and planned use of shared resources
    • strategic planning.

3. Technological readiness
The collaboration plan should:

  • document the availability and planned use of technological resources to facilitate:
    • data sharing and collaborative data analysis
    • communication
    • coordination
  • provide evidence for institutional support related to:
    • interoperability of proposed technology systems
    • policies
    • physical space designed for collaboration.

4. Team functioning
The collaboration plan should document strategies for supporting team functioning, including:

  • general strategies
    • identify gaps in team functioning processes and competencies
  • behavioural processes
    • develop shared vision, mission and goals; facilitating dialogue
  • cognitive processes
    • externalize group cognition throughout the collaboration
    • create shared mental models of the team structure and collaborative scientific project
    • foster team-level understanding of each team member’s areas of expertise, roles on the team, and contributions to science
    • encourage perspective taking
  • affective/motivational processes
    • engage in on-going iterative reflection
    • clarify roles and expectations
    • foster team cohesion
    • provide a psychologically safe environment
    • engender confidence in team’s ability to attain shared goals
    • bolster trust among team members
  • fostering interdisciplinarity
    • develop critical awareness of the strengths and weaknesses of contributing disciplines
    • create shared understanding of key disciplinary-specific terms and develop shared team vocabulary
    • foster cross-disciplinary orientation
    • share knowledge
    • integrate and co-produce knowledge
    • integrate knowledge across stakeholders (eg., non-academic and academic)
    • embrace opportunities for serendipity.

5. Communication and coordination
The collaboration plan should provide plans and strategies for:

  • communication across the team and among team members
  • co-ordination of day-to-day operations and the on-going achievement of scholarly benchmarks.

6. Leadership, management and administration
The collaboration plan should provide descriptions of:

  • leadership approaches to address the components in the collaboration plan; include the ways all team members will serve to lead (eg., within roles/expertise) and how the team will work/lead together to achieve mission/vision/goals
  • management approaches to address the components in the collaboration plan; include ways all team members will contribute to and support overall management
  • strategies for recruitment, hiring, and daily administration of the team.

7. Conflict prevention and management
The collaboration plan should describe strategies for:

  • preventing conflicts
  • managing conflicts.

8. Training
The collaboration plan should provide description of, and implementation strategies for:

  • training plans for the team and team members at the start of the collaboration and throughout, including strategies to identify gaps in competencies and skills relevant to the team
  • training approaches to enhance the relevant competencies and skills of the team
  • type of training format and how it incorporates the needed training content and proposed approaches.

9. Quality improvement activities
The collaboration plan should:

  • describe the processes and metrics that will be put in place to ensure continuous quality improvement

10. Budget/resource allocation
The collaboration plan should:

  • allocate funds in the budget for activities that facilitate the success of the team, as identified in components 1-9.


  • Hall, K. L., Vogel, A. L. and Crowston, K. (2019). Comprehensive collaboration plans: Practical considerations spanning across individual collaborators to institutional supports. In: Hall, K. L., Vogel, A. L. and Croyle, R. T. (eds.). Strategies for team science success: Handbook of evidence-based principles for cross-disciplinary science and practical lessons learned from health researchers. Springer: New York, United States of America: 587-612. (Online) (Open access):

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Posted: November 2020
Last modified: November 2020