Experiences, Benefits, and Challenges of Initiating and Maintaining International Research Collaborations

Friday, 25 July 2014: 1:30 PM

Joan E. Haase, PhD, RN, FAAN
Science of Clinical Care Department, School of Nursing, Indiana University, Indianapolis, IN
Li-Min Wu, PhD
College of Nursing, Kaohsiung Medical University, Kaohsiung, Taiwan
Chin-Mi Chen, PhD, RN
School of Nursing, National Defense Medical Center, Taipei, Taiwan

Purpose: Processes for establishing international research collaboration often seem elusive; there are few descriptions of successful strategies for establishing or maintaining productive international collaborations. This presentation describes ways researchers in Taiwan and the United States effectively established and maintain international research collaboration.

Methods: Our collaboration began through semester-long study-abroad programs required of PhD nursing students in Taiwan. Two students, now Drs Chen and Wu, selected Dr. Haase, a faculty at Indiana University, as mentor.  Their study-abroad experience required planning for family care and costs, completing pilot work prior to studying abroad as a basis for collaborating on a dissertation proposal, adjusting to life in another country, overcoming language barriers, and taking courses. From a mentor’s perspective the experience included sensitivity to students’ adjustment needs, becoming acquainted with their projects and learning styles, and establishing collaborative, rather than hierarchical, communication. The goals of our collaborations were dissertation proposals ready for implementation upon return to Taiwan. Dr. Haase served as an external member of both committees. Following dissertation completion, because we all had positive experiences and common research interests,  our collaboration continues productively into its 7thyear, through internet conferencing, visiting lectureships, attending professional meetings, and formal university partnerships.

Results: We experienced challenges (e.g. obtaining funding support and time commitments), developed strategies to overcome them (e.g. establishing mutually beneficial goals, writing grants, establishing formal university partnerships) and derived many benefits (e.g., productive, culturally sensitive research programs addressing important questions, lasting friendships, travel enrichment). Products of our work include grants for mixed method studies, publications and presentations.

Conclusions: By understanding potential challenges and strategies, researchers who want to have international collaboration can anticipate and plan appropriately to make connections, conduct research that will can be universally applied and reap personal and professional benefits. Examplars of collaboration can serve as one model.