Learning the ropes in GER through multi-institution research

Christine Clark, Eastern Michigan University

Though I have conducted research in GER on and off throughout my career, it has only recently become a more focused aspect of my research. Through a department colleague, I have become involved in a multi-institution GER project that began in March of this year. So far, we seem to have been working well as a group, and there are likely several factors that are directly influencing that. First, we regularly schedule online meetings (Adobe Connect, Google Hangouts, etc.) to discuss progress. Second, we are all willing to take on tasks when they fall within our expertise, but also feel comfortable in telling each other when we cannot do something or need help with a task. Third, we all have found an aspect of our project that is our own focus, allowing each of us an area within the project to take the lead.

I think the largest hurdle for collaboration across institutions is finding people interested in collaborating with you! I was fortunate that we hired a new faculty member that was interested in working with me, and brought me in on her project. If I was working on my own, it would have been much more difficult to find people to collaborate with.

Another significant issue for me is that while I am a full professor, and have published and have contacts within my core discipline, as I spend more time teaching, I have become more interested in GER. As true for any field, beginning research in a new area can be intimidating for a number of reasons, including not knowing what the current research is, who the active researchers are, and learning the terminology associated with the field. While mentoring is often available for young researchers, I could see having mentoring available to new researchers, regardless of where they are in their career.

Finally, multi-institution collaboration is dependent on online meeting software. My university provides for us to use Adobe Connect, but not all institutions provide a similar option. One possible item that could be provided by the GER community would be an online meeting venue available for GER researchers.