What is an academic collaborator?
An Academic Collaborator is a person or team that typically works in a university setting and is a resource for expertise and experience on a project topic, population and/or a specific area of research. Academic Collaborators have experience working on grant funded projects and typically have advanced degrees.
Why would a community organization and an academic collaborator work together?
Communities and Academic Collaborators can be mutually beneficial to each other in many ways. Community partners can gain expertise and improve regional health because of research they are involved in within their community. Academicians need populations and environments in which to conduct their research. Both benefit from finding additional collaborators to increase their funding opportunities.
An Academic Collaborator’s role can vary according their time available and the needs and preferences of the community partner. Below are some examples of involvement:
- Share knowledge and answer questions around a particular topic via email
- Provide tools and/or resources (e.g. focus group expertise, human subjects’ protection guidance)
- Provide a 1-hour consult via video or phone conference (e.g. Q&A)
- Conduct a workshop or targeted training with a group
- Provide a particular service (e.g. data analysis, evidence-based intervention identification/ adaptation, evaluation plan)*
- Become part of the project team, lead or co-lead the project*
- Invite the community partner to become a project site for a funded or proposed project*
*the Academic Collaborator and the community partner ultimately decide whether this is a pro bono, fee-for-service or a consultant – paid or unpaid – relationship.
The short answer is; sometimes. It is up to the community organization and the academic collaborator to discuss and decide how the relationship will work. The initial meeting is always a no-charge consult and an opportunity for Q&A. This initial meeting is set-up in order to make sure there is a clear understanding about what is needed; it’s an opportunity to confirm that the people, skills and project all fit well together.
Once there is a decision about whether an academic collaborator and a community partner want to continue to work with each other, it is recommended that a scope of work is defined.
A scope of work should include:
- Clearly defined type of expertise the collaborator is agreeing to provide
- Clearly defined roles, responsibilities and hours dedicated to the project for both the collaborator and the community partner
- Rates and payment schedule
- Meetings that will take place
- Communication plan
|Benefit to Community
|Benefit to Academic Collaborator
|Access to expertise, experience and university resources
|Opportunity to translate research into meaningful health improvements
|Increase knowledge about evidence-based practices
|Learn about efforts and approaches that work in a community setting
|Learn more about similar health issues or programs beyond the community
|Expand radius or range of project implementation and data collection
|Fill gaps in areas such as; study design, data analysis, program evaluation
|Build networks for future research