Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin - English


When it comes to collaboration in science, one often only looks at collaborative research projects. However, it is not uncommon to find cooperation in other activities as well, as Figure 4 illustrates.


Figure 4 Cooperation in various activities


Nevertheless, cooperation is most common in research: More than 70% state that they frequently or even exclusively conduct research with others. Only 4.5% state that they conduct research exclusively on their own. On the other hand, even for teaching, only one-fifth of respondents say they do it exclusively on their own.

If we look at how often the scientists work with certain groups of people (see Figure 5), we see that, as expected, a large proportion of respondents work regularly (i.e., often, very often, or always) with colleagues from their own discipline (80.7%).  Interdisciplinary work is still a common practice for 49.8% of the respondents. With regard to transdisciplinary work, i.e., working with non-scientists or persons outside of academia, only 18.5% of the respondents stated that they do this regularly.


Figure 5 Frequency of intra-, inter-, and transdisciplinary work


For collaboration specifically in the area of "research," we asked scientists more specifically about their collaborative partners (see Figure 6). Of those who cooperate, the vast majority say they do so with other researchers from their own field of work or team (86%) or from their own university (71%). 41% cooperate with other universities in Berlin, 59% with other universities in Germany and 55% with universities abroad.

Collaboration with non-university research institutions is also widespread among respondents (47%). Of these, just under a third are research collaboration projects with a research institution from the Berlin research landscape.  

At 27%, research collaboration with companies is somewhat less common. This is certainly not least because companies are not equally relevant for all scientific areas. Nevertheless, just under 14% of respondents cooperate with companies from the Berlin research landscape.

The least frequent research collaboration projects are with universities of applied sciences (6%). Collaboration is more frequent with civil society actors and organizations, such as foundations, associations, NGOs, and citizens (15%). 


Figure 6 Cooperation partners


How much cooperation is good and desirable cannot be deduced from these figures. It is even less possible to deduce whether there is a need for more cooperative relationships. These questions require a more in-depth look at the specific cooperation needs of scientists. Data on this were also collected as part of the survey. We will provide the corresponding analyses at a later date.

When asked about what works well and what works less well in collaboration projects, the scientists describe their own experiences as overwhelmingly positive (see Figure 7). It should be emphasized here that the "hard" conditions for success – "meeting project objectives" and "meeting own objectives" – were rated as functioning very poorly or rather poorly by very few respondents and as functioning rather well or very well by the vast majority. It is very positive to note that the trust between the cooperation partners, as a fundamental condition for cooperation in general, is rated extremely highly by the respondents. 

It is also noteworthy that the integration of different professional perspectives ("interdisciplinarity") also presents few difficulties. Difficulties are most likely to be found in the division of labor, the distribution of funds and resources, and the integration of different working styles.


Figure 7 Evaluation of cooperative relationships


Overall, this overview of cooperative relationships shows that there is no urgent need for improvement in this area across the board. It should be borne in mind, however, that only people who maintain cooperative relationships were surveyed. It may well be that more in-depth analyses show that there is a need for support in initiating collaborative relationships. This is also indicated by Figure 17.