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Would it be beneficial to mention the names of potential collaborators in my research statement?

Over the last year I have been discussing future collaborative work with research groups from other Universities. We have not submitted any grants and there is nothing official yet, but it appears that both of us would definitely pursue this if/when I start a faculty position. Would it be appropriate to mention this?

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I presume this is job interviews in academic positions.

The appropriate place to mention such possibilities is only in your proposed research plan. When you do state names, state where the person is located and what role that person is to play in the collaboration.

Example

Defining the Role of Cats in Human Mental Health

For this project, I will ... bla ... bla ...

  • Potential Research Collaborations

    • Dr. Joe Smith, Sociology Department, Pet Friendly University, Cat Heaven, USA (123) 456-7890, j.smith@... As a renowned cat psychologist, Dr. Smith will contribute his expertise to evaluate whether the cats are happy during the study. We plan to jointly supervise the graduate student on this project.
    • Dr. Alice B. Nice, ...
  • Potential Research Funding Sources

    • The Society for Improved Mental Health (SIMH)
    • ...

Certainly, you will have vetted all of your statements that you make with each of the potential collaborators BEFORE you submit your document for the job applications. We on the other side of the interview will be contacting Dr. Smith as demands warrant!

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Generally speaking, yes, it is actually expected from the faculty position applicant to include this kind of information in your research statement. However, that being said, because you are not alone in this process, make sure your collaborator agrees with you including your collective idea in the application.

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Personally, I would mention that you're working toward the goal of establishing collaborations, and you are currently in discussion with Drs. X, Y, and Z (after contacting those people to make sure it's OK with them). I think this is useful information to a search committee.

Beyond that, I don't see a need to have anything like a section called "potential collaborators", as the phrase can mean just about anything, from "we're applying for a grant together" all the way down to "I read that person's last paper, and thought it was interesting". At best, the committee won't know how to weight the information, and at worst, they'll get ticked off for having such vague information in an application package.

Perhaps the best advice would be to actually move on starting the collaboration, so the issue just goes away, and your package looks that much better.

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