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In the forty-fourth and forty-fifth numbers of Antropologicheskij forum / Forum for Anthropology and Culture, published by the Museum of Anthropology and Ethnography 
(Kunstkamera) of the Russian Academy of Sciences, the European University, St Petersburg, and the European Humanities Research Centre, University of Oxford, our ‘Forum’ (written round-table) will address the question of collaborative projects in the social sciences. We would like to invite you to respond to the questionnaire below.

You may, as you wish, directly address the questions presented here, or send in a text responding to one or some of them (or taking up some other issue that seems to you relevant). Whichever way, we would be grateful if you could keep your answers to a maximum of 10 pp. (1.5 spaced, 12-point type). Please use the author-date in-text citation system for any references in the format [Smith 2002: 12], i.e. author/date (no comma) in square brackets, appending a list of ‘References’ at the end with full publication details: Author: e.g. Smith M. A.; Article title: e.g. ‘Visual Anthropology’; Journal title: e.g. Ethnology. 2002. No. 3. Pp. 14–19; or alternatively, Author: e.g. Smith M. A.; Book title: e.g. Visual Anthropology. Place: Publisher, date, pages: e.g. London: Anvil Press, 2002. 356 pp. Please send replies by 31 March 2020 to forum.for.anthropology(), with a copy to catriona.kelly(); your email address should be included in any attached file. We hope that the discussion will appear in the spring and the summer of 2020.


Forum 44-45: Collaborative Projects in the Social Sciences

Gone are the days of the lone-wolf scientists; gone for good, it seems. This is not just the case for the exact sciences, where this shift occurred quite a while ago. If the social anthropology and fieldwork-based sociology of the 20th century could be described as an individualistic endeavor, contemporary social research tends to be a team-based effort that includes both managerial staff and on-the-ground researchers. These teams come about for different reasons. Sometimes, a serious researcher forms a research team in order to tackle a particular task. Conversely, sometimes an already existing research group attempts to attract a renowned scientist in the hopes of being able to secure better funding (or in order to meet the formal requirements of a research grant). The team’s research activity itself can also take on different forms: on the one hand, the individual team members could ‘synergize’ and motivate one another. It is also possible for the team members to be an annoyance and hindrance to each other. This has, in no small part, to do with the psychological qualities of the individual members and their ability to work as a team; another contributing factor may be the number of other collaborative projects the members are engaged in; researchers commonly participate in several collaborative projects simultaneously. An even greater challenge is the collaboration of specialists from different scientific schools or disciplines: in these cases, much time is spent on consensus-formation. Oftentimes, a collaborative project is only pretending to be a team-based effort, whilst actually constituting a mechanically combined collection of individual projects, some of which may have existed long before the collaborative project itself. Lastly, the results of the collaboration might, on the one hand, be reduced to a simple report submitted to the grant-giving organization. On the other hand, these results can produce an engaging and important publication. It is never quite clear which factors contribute to either result.

A collaborative fieldwork-based research project represents a special case where researchers collect material within the same ethnographic site, i.e. their interaction is expanded to include work with and around the informants. The team has to distribute tasks, allocate interviewees and the locations of observation. They have to coordinate their actions and statements. If you’ve ever had to participate in collaborative projects, you surely have ample things to share about it, both in terms of positive and negative experiences.

The editorial team of the “Forum for Anthropology and Culture” kindly asks you to respond to the following questions:

  1. In your view, is the spread of collaborative projects in the social sciences related to the rise of ‘academic capitalism’[1], changing research trends, or something else?
  2. What are the benefits and downsides of collaborative research projects, both for the team leaders and the individual researchers?
  3. Have you personally taken part in an inter-disciplinary research collaboration where you had to interact with specialists from other disciplines or schools of thought? In cases of conceptual differences, how did your research group manage to coordinate the final results?
  4. Please tell us about your personal experiences of team-based research in the field. How effective is research where multiple specialists work within the same empirical field? How should conflicts regarding methodologies, techniques, habits, ethical procedures be resolved? How do we avoid a “competition for informants”?
  5. Which platforms or software products did you employ to coordinate team-based research? What are their pros and cons?

Thank you very much!

[1] For more information about the term, see: <>

Editorial Office of the journal 'Forum for Anthropology and Culture':

Peter the Great Museum of Anthropology and Ethnography (Kunstkamera), Russian Academy of Sciences

3 Universitetskaya Emb., 199034, St Petersburg, Russia

European University at St Petersburg

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Phone: +7 (812) 386-76-36

Fax: +7 (812) 386-76-39

E-mail: forum.for.anthropology()

Forum for Anthropology and Culture:

ISSN 1815-8927

Antropologicheskij forum:

ISSN 1815-8870

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