The complexity of collaboration: Opportunities and challenges in contracted research

Marion Bowl
Liz Tully
Jennifer Leahy


This article explores some of the challenges of utilising collaborative research approaches when undertaking contracted research projects for government and non-government agencies in the adult and community education (ACE) sector. To discuss these challenges, the article draws on three recent examples of research projects undertaken for ACE sector organisations in Aotearoa New Zealand. These challenges include managing relationships with the different parties to the research; dealing with conflicting expectations of funding agencies, commissioning organisations and practitioners; and ownership and dissemination of findings. We highlight the complexity of notions of collaboration and the importance of deliberate trust-building in establishing credibility. We also open up for discussion the thorny issues of who owns the right to disseminate research findings and how far should researchers’ and universities’ responsibilities extend to ensure that research findings are put in the public domain?


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