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Why do collaborative research?

BMJ 2007; 335 doi: (Published 09 August 2007) Cite this as: BMJ 2007;335:304
  1. Anisur Rahman, reader in rheumatology
  1. Division of Medicine, University College London
  1. anisur.rahman{at}

    Much of the most valuable medical research is done by large teams of people, often collaborating across several centres. Examples include randomised controlled trials that prove the efficacy of new forms of treatment and genetic studies that use clinical data from many hospitals to establish the linkage of genes to specific diseases.

    Such collaborative efforts are undervalued by academic institutions, to the extent that it could be argued that clinical academics who wish to thrive should avoid taking part in such collaborations—unless they are a lead author. Without colleagues who are prepared to collaborate without gaining the kudos of leading, however, none of these studies could be done.

    Are the disincentives to collaboration worse than before? One disincentive is the increasing complexity of documentation that researchers need to carry out any form of study involving patients. A researcher who signs up to recruit patients into any multicentre project—even …

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