7 November 2022

Collaborative or Competitive: A Balancing Act in Research

Assoc. Prof. Ida Fatimawati bt. Adi Badiozaman 

It is that time of the year when academic researchers around the world eagerly anticipate the results of the 2022 grants and research proposals. While this time can be anxiety-inducing, competition has always been a critical aspect of academia. As researchers, we compete for university placement, scholarships, and grant funding, striving towards excellence in our field. However, academic research is not solely about competition; collaboration has played an increasingly important role in recent years.

The rapidly changing landscape of higher education has brought about different forms of collaboration, such as research partnerships that yield valuable data and tools to accelerate discovery. The COVID-19 pandemic provides an example of how collaboration between researchers, scientists, governments, private companies, and universities has helped the world better understand and treat the virus. The sharing of research findings and free access to pre-print papers has led to the speedy dissemination of knowledge, and the development of multiple vaccines has resulted in a diverse array of options for worldwide use.

International collaborations, in particular, have been hailed as producing some of the highest quality research based on citation factors. Collaborative forms of competition, such as hackathons, bring together people from different sectors to generate innovative ideas, leading to future collaborations and solutions.

As the demand for more competition and collaboration in research increases, an in-depth analysis of their relationship is necessary. The tension between individual reputation-based incentives and the need for more direct collaboration has implications for research management and policy. Nonetheless, competition remains crucial for improving scientific performance and its impact on society. It is important to advocate for the beneficial aspects of competition as we move towards a new, collaborative utopia.

While competition remains a significant aspect of academia, collaboration has become increasingly important in recent years. The COVID-19 pandemic has demonstrated how collaboration can help to accelerate research and find solutions to pressing global issues. As the demand for both competition and collaboration in research grows, an analysis of their relationship and effects on the quality of science is necessary. The beneficial aspects of competition should be promoted, and collaboration should be embraced to move towards a more collaborative and innovative future.

Assoc. Prof. Ida Fatimawati bt. Adi Badiozaman heads the School of Research at Swinburne Sarawak. She is contactable at ifaBadiozaman@swinburne.edu.my