I've been working with a (very good) co-author in the past. He is better than me at some things, and I'm better than him at others, so working together is great and fun. However, because he is good at X, when I work with him, it just usually turns out that I don't get to develop my skills at working on X (simply because he's faster and can get there before me when I'm still stumbling). I guess in the short run this is fine (because the papers come out faster), but it worries me in the long run.

And, because co-authoring is so fun, I don't get to work on things that I personally really like, because the other thing is taking up all my time.

So, is it possible to work with a co-author and develop my skills, without ignoring my own projects?

  • 4
    I think this is more about time management and priorities. You could try to publish a certain number of papers then take a break to work on that X.
    – Academic
    May 13, 2021 at 6:24
  • 5
    Treasure this opportunity for now and pump out as many papers as possible whilst it last. Your co-author may move on; in which case, you get to do what you like or find a new co-author. Alternatively, both of you may decide to move into an unfamiliar area. In this case, you get to learn something new together. May 13, 2021 at 6:26

1 Answer 1


In order to develop your personal skills, you need to invest time, and the time that your coauthor spends on solving "your problems" doesn't count. The best way to use your coauthor to improve your skills is to analyze everything they do and ask questions when you don't understand something. It's like having a free tutor (well, the price being having a coauthor)...

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