Collaboration in the Toadstool Project

Collaboration was always an important part of science, and is increasing in importance. One simply has to look at the multiple authors on most scientific papers to find evidence that this is the case. Collaboration is an important tool that allows larger scientific questions to be addressed. It also has an important educational role, which we are tapping into here. We will be collaborators in this project, and so it is useful to explore how this should work. Fairness and justice are particularly important issues here. It can get ugly when people feel badly treated. The success of a project can be very much dependent on the structure of the collaborative framework. One general rule when it comes to justice and fairness is that participants need to simply speak up - state your concerns as they occur to you so that the issue can be explored and resolved. Communication naturally becomes a crucial component of collaboration.

In the field we will work as flexible teams of two (or in some instances three). This is largely for safety reasons, but the science that is generated is often much sounder when you have someone to discuss things with in the field. You will partner with different people at different times. In this way, I will be able to spend some with each of you. Additionally, experience and knowledge is also more broadly shared among the research group, which is advantageous. This flexibility can also serve to reduce any personality conflicts.

The data we will produce will be communal. The data you generate will be used by others, and you will use data that other people have generated. Thus it is very important to take care to gather high quality data. As far as individual responsibilities, towards the end of field mapping we will have a much better way idea of what type of analysis needs to be done, and the natural breaks or groupings of geologic features and data. At that time we will identify individual projects that you will be working on for your independent study. This is where you will assume 'ownership' and responsibility. One good possibility is for each person to work on a vein field (see discussion on veins), or a given set of faults. You will then take the appropriate data analyze it and come to your conclusions. Results from different vein fields can then be compared.

It is intended that our work will result in presentations and publications, and in this case authorship can be a crucial issue. Conventionally, the following contributions to a project can lead to authorship inclusion: a) formulation of the research questions and design, b) writing and obtaining support funds, c) production of significant amount of data, d) analysis of the relevant data, e) providing major insights into interpretation and/or significance of data, and f) making the presentation or writing the article. Most commonly, listed authors have contributed in multiple ways. There is no agreed upon convention for authorship order (first author, etc.). In general, the greater the amount of your contribution or the more critical your contribution was the closer to the first author position you have. You will be encouraged to present your results in professional forums (e.g. the Nebraska Academy of Science meeting in spring). For presentations, usually, the person who gives the presentation is first author. If the data you helped gather is used in a paper then you will be included in authorship, although you may be asked to help in development of the publication (e.g. generating a figure that displays your data).

If you have anymore questions about collaboration in this project, please do not hesitate to ask.