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Home No. 19: The Collaborator Doesn’t Live Up to the Title

Jul 27

No. 19: The Collaborator Doesn’t Live Up to the Title

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The Collaborator Doesn’t Live Up to the Title

Reader question: My PI wants to put a collaborator on the grant application because he has a great reputation, but I know he won’t do anything for the research. Should I say something?

Expert Comments: Generally, you likely should not say anything. There are times, even when the person does nothing for the grant, that having them on the proposal will give the grant some additional weight.

If you are writing the application, you must justify the “collaborator’s” role, so you must determine what that person’s role will be. If you’re using him as a collaborator, indicate that you will consult him, for instance, when there are unusual or difficult situations. Include that you will approach the collaborator for advice throughout the project when needed.

Even if the person doesn’t do much for the project, he will probably still be accessible for that kind of input. For example, if you have difficulty interpreting a certain piece of data and your collaborator has that kind of knowledge, he’ll be available to offer his expertise.

Although he may not be be there for the project’s day-to-day operation, he will be there as that person you can consult with when you get into a bind or there’s an unknown issue that arises. That’s an invaluable resource to have in your lab coat’s pocket. Not only does it look good on your grant, these collaborators can provide some value to you down the road with your grant.

Expert comments provided by Susan Marriott, PhD, professor in the Department of Molecular Virology and Microbiology at Baylor College of Medicine in Texas.

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