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We started to collaborate with another research group. We make computational predictions and they evaluate them at the lab, for bioactive compounds. We have not yet established a research agreement, just talked in person, but we would like to establish a research contract with them. This is since in our country (Spain) and given the financial crisis, groups that establish such research contracts are more eligible for further funding from national government than those that publish in Nature or Science. Since we need as many contracts as possible, price is not important, we think we can offer our services for a very small fee. The point is how to convince the other groups that we need to do this not for the money, but for our future. So the question is, what is the best way to propose them a research contract?

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The best way is probably to talk very openly with them about your situation and especially what research contracts mean for you. Before you make any suggestions, it would also be good to evaluate the funding situation of your partners, and whether they need your contribution so much for their research that they would be willing to put money in it.

However, most collaborations between academic groups are seen as something that benefits both sides, so it could be seen as a little bit odd that one side pays the other to do something. Still, if your partners have a good funding situation, they might be willing to (co-)fund a PhD student or post-doc in your group, who works specifically on the collaboration project. But I've mostly seen this between groups in the same institution so far, not among different institutions. If your collaborators are in industry, then it will probably be easier.

Another nice way to get such project going would be to apply for joint funding with the other research group, for example within an EU project, and set up a contract how the money from the funded project will be distributed between you and the other group. If your collaborators have good national funding sources, it may also be possible that they apply for funding with the joint project on their own, and outsource the computational part to you.

  • Yes, I will talk with them openly, therefore. The problem for sharing a PhD or Postdoc; when these two groups work on very different subjects (experimental and computational), it will be difficult to have a multidisciplinar scientists that can do both things. As to apply for joint funding this is a good solution. The problem is when you need funding right now! – Open the way Oct 31 '12 at 18:56

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