How Collaborations Sustain Us

Life as a researcher can be isolating. We’re trained as individuals: my grades, my thesis, my job. Some of our best friends are also our fiercest competitors.

It takes a toll. Years of new jobs, new towns, and new people. An uncertain and tight job market. Wondering which side of the country you’ll move to this summer.

It’s hard to keep friends, and even harder to make new ones, knowing either you or they will probably move away in short time.

Translated on one’s work life, the research atmosphere doesn’t initially seem to encourage collaboration. But in fact, it demands it.

Everyone knows they can’t do everything, and it’s preposterous to think otherwise. But it’s one thing to casually recognize this fact, and quite another to have it grab you by the collar and drag you to the ground.

That’s been my biggest lesson I’ve learned so far in research—in everything I do now, I try to build strong collaborations and teams with as diverse perspectives and skillsets as possible. In just a very short time, this approach has afforded me some of the most rewarding interactions and research experiences of my career.

Oftentimes, this has meant contacting relative strangers whose work I respect and admire, only to discover they are equally interested in collaborating. While this seems like the obvious thing to do, consider the aforementioned issues about being reluctant to reach out.  

Probably my most fulfilling collaboration has been with my team at The Fisheries Blog. We’ve been bringing you ~45 original articles a year, every Monday, since 2012. This has resulted in 350 original articles and 30+ original pieces of art (Thanks, Cooney, for running the numbers).

During that time, we’ve also earned 5 PhDs, published a peer-reviewed article, had 5 weddings, birthed 8 children, and made more cross-country (and some international) moves than we’d dare to count. Through all this instability, the blog has been one of the few sources of constancy in my professional life.

It’s important to note that almost a quarter of our content has been contributed by guest authors. Writing posts has been fulfilling, but it’s really been the guests that have helped us sustain and expand.

Now that we’re all grown up and in pretty stable professional positions, we’re starting to think about new collaborations—the kind that helped us get to this point.

As such, we’re extending an invitation for guests to make regular contributions to The Fisheries Blog. Writing is key, but we’re also interested in other media—art, audio, etc. Keep in mind that since 2012, we have invested precisely zero dollars into this effort, and have gotten exactly that much in return. It’s a labor of love.

So, if you’re interested in a new collaboration—whether it’s a one-off or something more, drop us a line:

We’ll be looking forward to hearing from you.

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