Developing Collaborations

Once you have refined the research question or problem that you intend to address, it may become clear that collaboration with another person or organization is necessary or beneficial to the project. Funding agencies have recognized this shift and often favor collaborative efforts.

Research question / social need / problem to be addressed

Proposed scope of work

Project structure / resource needs (including collaboration requirements)

If collaboration is necessary or beneficial, it is important to sort out what type of collaboration is required. Collaboration varies, from simply needing another entity to provide a specific and narrowly defined service (e.g., lab analyses) to fully sharing the development and execution of the project.

The structure of a collaborative relationship determines how it is budgeted, what the internal administrative requirements are, and how it is presented in the proposal to the sponsor.

Determining the Type of Collaborative Relationship

  Subcontractor Consultant Faculty Expert Vendor
Does this person work at NIU? No No Yes No
Is this person offering services within the normal work day and his/her typical job description? Yes No   Yes
Does this person provide the same services to many different purchasers? No Yes   Yes
Has some responsibility for programmatic decision-making? Yes No No No
Primarily offers Projects Advice or expert services Advice or expert services Parts or ongoing services
Operates in a competitive environment?    


Must adhere to federal compliance requirements Yes Yes Yes No
Performance measures Whether or not the objectives of the program are met  



Your research development specialist can help you to determine how a collaborative relationship should be structured, set up the correct administrative arrangements and budget the collaboration appropriately and in some cases may be able to suggest collaborators.