With Emily still away, I thought I’d share this recent Career Advice blog post from the US site, Inside Higher Ed. It’s about co-authorship, and outlines some of the benefits that writing with a more experienced researcher might have for PhD students.
The post is useful for outlining some of the benefits of co-authorship, and some of the things to take into account when you’re thinking about working with someone. However, it doesn’t really cover how to approach a potential co-author, or how to articulate what you, as a junior/new/novice researcher might be able to bring to a co-authoring relationship. Nevertheless, I’d suggest that there are some things that you can bring to a co-authoring relationship, even as a PhD student, including:
- Time – academic staff are often extremely busy juggling teaching, admin or service roles, research and trying to have a home-life too. As a PhD student, you may have more time for research and therefore be able to get an article underway and keep it on track. You might also be able to the time-consuming editing and proof-reading that always come with getting an article published.
- Expertise – although your co-author may be a more experienced academic writer, you might be the expert in the area you’d like to explore together. Perhaps you can see an interesting link between your PhD research and their research area, but it’s an area that they haven’t explored before. In this case, you might be able to help your co-author to take his/her work in a new (for them) and exciting direction.
- Language – maybe your co-author’s first language is not English, but you plan to publish in an English-speaking journal. In this case your potentially better grasp of English may lead to a more polished final article.
- A different perspective – if nothing else, you are able to bring an alternative perspective to a piece of work, and can act as an early peer reviewer. If this is one of your early publications, you’ll be keen for it to be as good, as clear and as effective as possible, and your co-author can clearly benefit from having a dedicated and invested collaborator.
If you do decide co-authoring may be for you, this earlier Inside Higher Ed Careers Advice post may also be useful in helping you to negotiate some of the potential pitfalls: http://www.insidehighered.com/advice/mentor/howard