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Identify and engage collaborators and stakeholders

Need assistance with research collaborations?

Duke encourages a collaborative and interdisciplinary approach to research as a means to strengthen the science and leverage subject-matter expertise. A variety of resources exist to help you identify collaborators and stakeholders for your research, as well as resources to help you establish these relationships in an effective and compliant manner.

Visit this page to view FAQs and a tool to determine the right mechanism to use for engaging a collaborator (i.e., should they be an independent contractor, a vendor, a subaward, etc.).

Rules and requirements for scientific collaborations

Before engaging potential collaborators, researchers should know that there are institutional rules and requirements that could apply. These requirements are not intended to hinder scientific collaborations, but to ensure investigators are protected and complying with funding agency guidelines.
International collaborations

International research collaborations are vital to Duke’s mission for enhancing global healthcare and innovation. However, there are special considerations to understand prior to engaging with international collaborators. These include:

  • Foreign national visitors and scholars
  • Travel to sanctioned countries
  • Sponsor disclosure requirements
  • International shipping of research materials or technologies

Access the international activities guidance page for more information about potential international collaborations.

Conflict of interest (outside activities)

Guidelines are in place to reduce the risk of undue influence when establishing relationships with external companies, institutions, and other collaborations. Review the best practices for mitigating conflicts of interest prior to engaging in any research partnerships.

There are also conflict of interest issues to consider if you plan to participate in the Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) or Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) programs. Review the SBIR/STTR implementation procedures for engaging in these programs.

For questions about conflict of interest concerns, contact DOSIcoi@duke.edu

Research agreements, material transfers, and data transfers

Collaborations may require formal agreements around ownership and confidentiality of research-related data and materials. The Office of Research Contracts (Schools of Medicine & Nursing) and the Office of Research Support (other Duke schools) assist researchers in establishing appropriate documentation for exchanges of research materials, confidential information, data, technical know-how, and equipment in support of research across the University. Please note that researchers are not authorized to sign research-related agreements on behalf of Duke.

Access the Navigate contracts and agreements page to determine what contracts may be needed for your project and who to contact for assistance. 

Engaging collaborators and stakeholders

Early engagement with collaborators and stakeholders materially improves project planning and sets teams on a course for open communication throughout the entire research process. Resources are available for help with engaging collaborators for interdisciplinary projects, and engaging community stakeholders or partnerships:
Community partnerships

Bi-directional collaborations with communities is the foundation for successful research partnerships. Inclusion of community and stakeholder perspectives:

  • Brings community-identified priorities and interests to research
  • Helps to increase public trust in the research enterprise
  • Translates research more quickly into improvements that affect the greater good 

When establishing community partnerships or engaging community stakeholders, it is important to foster meaningful and equitable relationships. Learn more about community engaged research and services to help you identify and develop these partnerships.   

Team science

Teams of investigators from diverse disciplinary backgrounds with different skills may be better suited to tackle scientifically complex, interlinked problems with multiple causes. As funding agencies are increasingly focused on the importance of employing diverse expertise to tackle grand challenges, leading research institutions must advance and apply the growing body of knowledge on best practices for team science excellence. Learn more about team science at Duke and services available to help you engage in interdisciplinary research.

Resources for identifying collaborators