I am a new postdoc (finished my PhD a few months ago) who started with a new group during COVID-19.
In my field collaboration is the norm and solo-author papers are rare. I need to start approaching people (both within the group and external) to collaborate on projects, but I am very nervous, and even after reading several existing questions on approaching collaborators I am not sure what to do.
There are two professors I might collaborate with. For each scenario I have also included some specific questions in bold to address the things I'm struggling to figure out.
- Working with a professor in our group who has a very impressive track record in creating new methods/tools. I have an idea for a method that could build on some of his work to address a different problem (about 30% his existing code/method and 70% new things). He liked the idea when I met him a year ago during my postdoc interview, but I'm not sure if he knew that none of my prior experience involved developing new methods. I would probably need a lot of help/guidance on this.
He is friendly and approachable with PhD students, but I'm nervous because as a postdoc I'm not sure how much help/guidance I'm still allowed to need. How should I go about approaching him, and what should I say to define potential roles/how the collaboration would work?
- A professor at another university I have previously exchanged a few emails with to ask question that fell within his area of expertise (my postdoc mentor introduced us). I am thinking of doing a paper that builds on my dissertation using a different type of data. He wouldn't be familiar with the method I'm using, but he is very familiar with the question and the literature, and I could use his advice on different ways to define/measure the outcome in the new data. The reason I want to invite him as a co-author (if there is a paper) is because his expertise would be helpful for the discussion section, and once there's a paper draft the whole thing could benefit from his input.
It may or may not be possible to do this paper - I can't check statistical power until I ask him more questions about defining/measuring the outcome. When and how would it be appropriate to transition from asking questions to inviting him as a co-author? And what should I say (and when) to discuss defining what his role as co-author would be?