Individual Research

It seems to be taken for granted that research should be primarily a single-person effort. Even those projects with large teams seems to be broken up so that each contributor provides one component of the whole project and contributes very little to other people’s components. This may be a misunderstanding of how research is actually performed, but it seems to be the case.

Why do we do this? Why don’t researchers work in teams of two on any given topic? It seems that we could do better if there were teams each working on the same problem. Free market economies have demonstrated that multiple solutions from multiple sources tend to yield a better overall answer to any given problem. In research, this is done on a larger scale between different researchers at different universities, but on a smaller scale, what about putting two people on the same task in the same research group? I think that students could help prevent each other from getting stuck.

It might be tough to support two students on the same project, however. Additionally, it might be tougher to give the appropriate amount of credit to each participant (which is a big deal in research). I think I’ll ask around in grad school.

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