Craft and Ulibarri suggest that researchers looking for a collaborator consider these characteristics:
• Complementary expertise. A little overlap helps, so you can speak the same language, but the more you can “fill-in-the-blanks” for each other in terms of knowledge and research techniques, the more you can enhance each other’s work and create a novel product.
• Similar work style. For example, if you like getting things done promptly (meeting or even staying ahead of deadlines), try to find a collaborator who also works that way. On the other hand, if you need prodding — and working with someone else helps to keep you motivated — look for a collaborator who is prompt, reliable and will help you stay on track.
• Willing to teach you about what they do. If a goal is to broaden your expertise into another sub-field or create a new scholarly niche, you need a collaborator who enjoys teaching and is willing to train you (or your students).
• Willing to negotiate approaches. If you find a potential collaborator whose research expertise complements yours but they’re not interested in a bidirectional exchange, then you may be better off asking them to be a “contractor” (someone to whom you can “subcontract” certain aspects of your work for a fee, while you retain sole leadership of the research).
• Shared perspectives on research goals and ethics. Optimally, you and your collaborator agree on what constitutes a “finished” product and what needs more work. You must agree on how to analyze and interpret data. If your ethical views are closely matched, your shared work will progress more rapidly and comfortably.