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Project Management Processes in a Large Humanities Research Project: Lessons from INKE

Published onMar 30, 2023
Project Management Processes in a Large Humanities Research Project: Lessons from INKE

Collaboration is becoming more common in the humanities, especially within the digital humanities. Research questions are becoming increasingly complex and larger-scale which means that a project needs different skills and expertise, more than a single individual often possesses (Hara et al.). These projects then become team efforts, something that is contrary to the lone scholar model that is often found in the humanities (Ruecker and Radzikowska). Granting agencies are supporting this trend with funding programs that require team-based approaches (McGinn and Niemczyk; Newell and Swan; van Rijnsoever and Hessels). Examples of these programs include the Digging into Data Challenge, the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council’s (SSHRC) Partnership Grants, and the National Endowment for the Humanities Digital Humanities Start-up Grants (National Endowment for the Humanities). Consequently, upon successful grant awarding, principal investigators often find themselves instantly responsible for collaborations made up of different team members, sizable budgets, and project complexity. As “accidental managers” (Revels) or “instant managers” (Greer; Kinkus), they are often not sure of the best way to manage a project and associated tasks, budget, and people. As they find, management becomes more complex as the project grows in the number of researchers, sites, budgets, and tasks. Ultimately, these project leads need tools and processes that can coordinate the project and its parts (Gold and Gold; Hara et al.; Newell and Swan; Northcraft and Neale; Saxberg and Newell). Without these, a team may not meet their research objectives with potential outcomes being research that remains uncompleted, disrupted personal relationships, and loss of reputation and research money (Newell and Swan).

While it is primarily used in business (Barnes et al.; Eriksson et al.; Koster; Winston and Hoffman), project management is a set of processes, tools, methods, and techniques that can be applied to academic research projects by directing and coordinating people and resources to attain objectives to various stakeholder satisfaction (Kinkus; Riol and Thuillier). These mechanisms allow a project to maximize the benefits of collaboration while minimizing the challenges surrounding communication and coordination (Amabile et al.; Cuneo). These challenges can create misunderstandings and mismatched expectations, especially within multidisciplinary teams (Dewulf et al.). To be successful, a project needs a research plan that outlines the way that research will be conducted so that goals, objectives, deliverables, schedules, and budgets are met (Philbin). A project needs this documentation to avoid problems such as a lack of results, time or cost overruns, or dissatisfaction with results (Muszyńska and Marx). Already funding agencies and others are requiring, even demanding, detailed and realistic plans, in response to a growing need for public accountability (Dowling and Turner; Fowler et al.; Riol and Thuillier). And it is recognized that management practices are needed to “hold research institutes accountable for meeting their obligations, maintaining their reputation and remaining competitive in terms of their productivity” (Riol and Thuillier 2). Finally, project management is a way to “gain time-, resource-, and funding efficiencies” (Atkinson Alpert and Hartshorne 543).

However, there are several gaps in knowledge regarding the application of project management to research projects in the academy. First, there is a lack of wide-spread opportunities to develop skills in project management in the humanities and digital humanities. There are workshops at training institutes such as the Digital Humanities Summer Institute (Siemens, “DHSI Project Planning Course Pack”), websites such as DevDH (Appleford and Guiliano), and other one-off offerings. There are also a growing number of books on the topic (Katz; Koster). And of course, many project leaders learn through the school of hard knocks (Dowling and Turner; Leon) which can be an effective but not necessarily an efficient way to learn about project management. Because researchers have not received training, they might not even be aware of project management processes, tools, methods, and techniques and their application within projects that enable effective teams.

Second, few studies look at project management and its use by professors for research (Atkinson Alpert; Atkinson Alpert and Hartshorne; Philbin). It is not a set of tools and processes that can be applied easily to university research, which is about creating new knowledge (Riol and Thuillier). In many cases, the research cycle is uncertain and not straightforward. Research goals may be well understood, but the means to reach them are not. Even the feasibility of the methodology may not be known in advance (Burress and Rowell; Dowling and Turner; Riol and Thuillier; Zhang). This is further complicated by the fact that faculty members often resist the use of such tools (Ermolaev et al.), seeing them as “emblematic of corporatization” (Burress and Rowell 3) or the application of “rigid management approaches” (Philbin 1). Some studies in the sciences have been undertaken (Riol and Thuillier). However, concrete examples of humanities scholars implementing these skills and knowledge are lacking.

This raises questions about the best ways to apply project management and its associated processes, tools, techniques, and methods to university research projects in general and digital humanities (DH) projects specifically. How can they be adapted for use in academic projects? What processes, tools, techniques, and methods might be most effective in managing people, tasks, timelines, and resources? What can be learned from successful DH projects and applied to other ones? This article contributes to this discussion with an exploration of the application of two project management processes within a large-scale collaboration in the digital humanities. In particular, the case study will examine the use of governance documents and an implementation of a yearly project planning and reporting cycle. The paper concludes with implications for practice for project managers and their projects.

Case Study

Implementing New Knowledge Environments (INKE) was a large seven-year project, operating from 2009-2016. It was funded through the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council’s (SSHRC) Major Collaborative Research Initiatives program which was designed to support large-scale integrative and collaborative research projects (Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council). INKE’s budget included $2.5 million in cash from SSHRC with approximately $10 million in cash and in-kind contributions from partner organizations. At the time, it was one of the largest digital humanities projects.

As a multidisciplinary team, INKE explored electronic books and reading and studied “different elements of reading and texts, both digital and printed” and contributed “to the development of new digital information and knowledge environments” (Raymond G. Siemens et al. 1). Drawing from 4 countries and over 20 institutions, there were 42 researchers and consultants, and over 60 undergraduate and graduate research assistants and postdoctoral fellows (INKE, “Implementing New Knowledge Environments”). Over 90 disciplines and subdisciplines were represented with researchers from English, Fine Arts, Design Studies, Philosophy, Computer Science, Library and Information Sciences, and many more.

The team spent approximately six years in development before INKE was successful in the granting process. During that time, it met on several occasions for intensive meetings, ranging from weekend workshops to week-long meetings, around the research question, methodology, budget, and team composition. During these meetings, the team developed an initial project charter that would guide the collaboration’s working relationship if it were to be successful in receiving grant funding (Siemens, “The Potential of Grant Applications”; See Appendix 1 for the project charter).

Initially, the team was divided into four sub-research areas, including Interface Design, Textual Studies, User Experience, and Information Management. In year 2, INKE was reorganized into three areas: Interface Design, Textual Studies, and Modelling/Prototyping. At the halfway point, the team finalized its team structure with two sub-research areas: Interface Design and Modelling/Prototyping1. There was also administrative support from an executive committee, which operated as a trustee of the project’s research direction and budget and provided final approval on yearly project plans; an advisory board which provided outside expertise and perspectives; a partners committee which represented stakeholding research partners; a sub-area research administrative committee, which comprised the leaders of the sub-research area groups and provided administrative oversight to their respective areas; and individual researchers.

Methodology: A Case Study Approach

This analysis will be explored within the context of a case study research methodology as defined by Robert Yin and Robert Stake. This research methodology is appropriate when one is considering “how” and “why” questions, particularly over a period of time, as is the case with this example (Yin). In addition, by considering a single case, one can explain a situation, explore the dynamics that are at play within that particular setting, and develop recommendations for others who face similar situations (Eisenhardt; Stake, The Art of Case Study Research; Stake, “Case Studies”; Yin).

The data is drawn from the author’s role as participant-observer on the grant (Marshall and Rossman; Trnka; Yin). From early on, the author served as a management advisor to the research team through its development and implementation. They introduced project management concepts and practices to the team. For this paper, the author drew upon meeting minutes and other documents, conversations, and their own observations (Newell and Swan).

Project Management Processes in INKE

This case study focuses on two project management processes, namely governance documents and an annual planning and reporting cycle, both of which were effective for coordinating people, tasks, timelines, resources, and ultimately the research.

Governance Documents

The INKE collaboration developed governance documents which guided the team’s working relationships. This is work often undertaken through the project definition/initiation stage when collaborators are meeting to determine the research question, objectives, team members, and budget (Siemens, “Project Management”).


The process of developing these documents occurred in two phases. The first occurred during the team and grant application development process, and the second happened in the first four months after the team was successful in receiving grant funding.

In the first phase, as part of the team development process, the collaboration adopted a project charter which outlined ways that the team would work together if successful in the granting process. One particular challenge that the INKE team needed to negotiate was the number of disciplines and subdisciplines represented by team members and by extension the number of potential authorship conventions. There is no common agreement on the way that academic credit should be acknowledged across disciplines. As a result, academic teams can often find themselves in conflict when it comes time to designate authors and their order if it is not determined in advance of publication (Bagshaw et al.; Kraut et al.). As a result, the INKE team negotiated an authorship credit which would acknowledge the individuals who had the most responsibility for the paper and the rest indicated by INKE Research Group (or HCI-Book Team as the project was known as at the time of initial development). See Appendix 1 for the original project charter.

While the project charter was sufficient for the process of writing the grant application and envisioning future working relationships, the administrative team, comprising leads from the sub-research area groups (RAGs), realized that it would not be enough to coordinate a successful grant project of approximately $13 million and seven years of research. As a result, the administrative team spent the first four months of the project co-writing administrative governance documents that worked to anticipate potential problem areas and develop language that would minimize disruption from these. Sub-research area leads volunteered to write sections based on their interest and past experiences working with teams. A management advisor facilitated the process by commenting on the language and referring the group to best practices articulated by other researchers (Kishchuk).

The documents were then accepted by the administrative group to allow for the planning of the first year of research. The Executive Committee provided final approval on May 24, 2009. From this point, the researchers finalized their research plans for the first year. Researchers, partners, research assistants and postdoctoral fellows were asked to sign a Researcher Agreement before they could receive funds from INKE. See Appendix 2 for the researcher agreement.

Key Elements of the Governance Documents

The governance documents comprised several key sections. First, there were job descriptions for each element of the project, ranging from the executive committee, partnership committee, international advisory board, administrative team, and sub-research area group leads to the researchers themselves. Each of these descriptions included membership, roles and responsibilities, the number of times and when a particular committee should meet, and the reporting relationship between the various elements. Second, realizing that there would likely be conflicts between team members, the governance documents outlined a dispute mechanism. Third, there was a realization that some researchers might bring their own intellectual property into INKE as part of their research contribution and that INKE as a whole might develop its own intellectual property. As a result, the administrative team developed a clause which would serve to outline who, if anyone, would hold rights to any intellectual property that was developed through the research and the nature of research which could be removed from the project. Fourth, anticipating that there could be potential change among researchers and administrative leads, the governance documents articulated exit mechanisms if people needed to step back from their roles. Finally, the administrative team reaffirmed the authorship convention.

INKE also found that situations arose where new language was needed and enacted a process to incorporate it. In other words, these documents were living. For example, the grant listed team members who had been involved in the process of developing the grant application, but INKE soon realized that there were other researchers and partners who could contribute to the project. However, there was no mechanism to incorporate them into the partnership. As a result, the administrative team developed a new category of associate researcher and partner for which there was a formal process of admittance. An administrative lead needed to articulate the reasons for a new researcher or partner to become associated with INKE in a more formal capacity. Further, as evidence of their commitment to INKE, a new researcher or partner had to be an associate member before becoming an active member who could receive research funds (Siemens and the INKE Research Group).

Test Cases

Some of the governance documents’ clauses were exercised early on. First, the clause around authorship was tested before research commenced to determine the definition of the substantial contribution needed to be a named author on a publication. The administrative team affirmed that to receive named author status, a proposed author had to do more than copyedit an article. Second, the language around leaves for sub-research area group leads was invoked by several sub-research area teams. Some administrative leads found that due to commitments in other aspects of their professional and personal lives they were not able to continue to undertake the responsibilities as an area lead. The governance documents allowed for smooth transition and handoffs between sub-research area leads while ensuring that the research continued. Finally, the governance documents outlined language that allowed for the incorporation of a new sub-research area with new leads.

Annual Planning and Reporting Cycle

Originally, SSHRC, as the funding agency, required a seven-year plan of activities, budget, and responsibilities. However, INKE successfully argued that the speed of technological change in e-books meant that any long-term planning would quickly become out of date.2 The funding agency accepted this argument but required that the collaboration create yearly plans. This work falls with the planning stage of a project where a team outlines with detail tasks, timelines, responsibilities, and budgets (Siemens, “Project Management”).

Planning Process

The yearly planning process incorporated several steps:

  • Each spring, collaborating with their team members and consulting with the other leads, the sub-research area leads developed plans that outlined researchers, goals, and objectives as they related to the overall INKE research question, key activities, budget and other resources, milestones, individuals responsible for the activities, and ways that a sub-research area team would collaborate as a group, with other area teams and with partners. See Appendix 3 for the template.

  • These plans were then circulated within the administrative team for their comment and input.

  • The comments were then shared with the sub-research area leads for revisions to their plans.

  • Once these plans were accepted by the administrative team, they were circulated to the Executive Committee for its approval. The criteria for approval are in Appendix 4.

  • After this point, in the summer, three-quarters of the research funds were transferred from the University of Victoria, the project’s administrative home, to the universities where the other researchers were based.

  • The sub-research area teams then commenced their research, including hiring research assistants and postdoctoral fellows, booking travel for research and conferences, and undertaking research and other activities requiring expenditures.

  • After 8 months, the sub-research area team leads submitted a report outlining their actual activities as compared against their plan. If the team was on track, the remainder of the research funds were transferred to the researchers.

  • At this time, the administrative leads began planning the next year’s research and the cycle started again.

  • At the end of the year, the administrative leads submitted a final report on the year’s activities, budget, milestones, and other measures of success. The final report template is in Appendix 5.

Elements of Plans

The plans were comprehensive statements for the upcoming year with details on research, conference presentations, publications, and travel with the corresponding need for resources, including research assistants and postdoctoral fellows. There was clear articulation of activity and associated resources to allow for accountability with the original grant application and research questions and goals. These plans ensured that the research was coordinated according to schedule, within budget, and according to designated performance objectives (Siemens, “Project Management”).


INKE can be judged a successful project from several perspectives, including positive research outcomes and work relationships. During the seven years, over 140 articles, book chapters and books were published and over 400 conference papers and talks were delivered. A total of 15 working tools and prototypes were developed. Over 60 research assistants and postdoctoral fellows and 4 staff members were hired. There were 42 researchers and consultants on the team (INKE, “Implementing New Knowledge Environments”). Further, many of the team, including researchers and partners, have decided to collaborate on a second large scale grant on open social scholarship (INKE, “About INKE,” “Team”). The collaboration, particularly the project charter and authorship convention, has also become a model for other projects (Hjartarson et al.; Nowviskie; The Praxis Program). Ultimately, INKE is an example of collaboration making a large-scale project possible because it increases the quality, depth, and scope of the research (Newell and Swan). It is also a case where formal documentation created advantages for the team and its research and confirms that successful teams do not just happen. Coordinating mechanisms, such as governance documents and annual project plans, are needed for this to occur (Salas et al.), especially in large, complex projects (Hollaender et al.). However, these tools might involve a leap of faith for researchers who tend to give priority to research end results over processes (Brown).

Several benefits exist with the governance documents. First, they can be viewed as a reflection and statement of past experiences in teams (McGinn and Niemczyk). Drawing on previous lessons learned, the administrative team anticipated the types of issues that were likely to occur over the life of a long-term grant. They focused on the areas where conflict had the potential to be the greatest, given that the team was very multidisciplinary, which meant differing academic languages, research approaches, and authorship conventions (Hollaender et al.). The documents were detailed and well thought through, meaning that very few changes or additions were needed as the collaboration progressed and, in those cases where new situations arose, there were mechanisms for drafting new language. The team also reviewed the documents on a regular basis to ensure that they still met the team’s needs. INKE’s language corresponded to similar agreements made by other research teams which included language around collaboration, supervision of students, intellectual property rights, and authorship (McGinn and Niemczyk).

Second, the documents became an efficient way to articulate INKE’s culture, collaboration and accountability values, and ways of working together, especially when new researchers and partners were added. They ensured that new people were oriented to the team while the research continued. This served to reinforce both a shared mental model of the project and roles and tasks of team members (Salas et al.). The documents served to articulate norms for productive work relationships and minimized the potential for misunderstandings and the need to talk to team members about non-performance (Hollaender et al.; McGinn et al.; Poole and Zhang).

Third, the documents also made visible the often-invisible work involved in managing and working within a large research project. Tenure and promotion committees could see the job descriptions for each position within the team and know the amount of work that was involved, work that is often behind the scenes. New team members could also understand in advance their roles and responsibilities because the tacit was made more explicit. Fourth, the documents acted like a safety net by providing a foundation upon which the team could take risks and make changes. The team was not rigidly bound to previous articulations of the manner in which they would work. It allowed for change while preserving existing relationships and research focus.

Finally, the team published the documents in two forms to ensure accountability to each other. Researchers signed the researcher agreement, signifying that they understood the “rules” for receiving funds. INKE also published the governance documents in the form of a journal article (Siemens and INKE Research Group) so that the team as a whole, as well as department chairs, tenure and promotion committees, and other research projects, were aware of them. It also served to continue the efforts around team building that started through the grant writing stage (Siemens, “The Potential of Grant Applications”). It should be noted that the process of developing governance documents takes time and should be done early in the process (Muszyńska and Marx; Ruuska and Teigland). In INKE’s case, writing these documents took several months at the start of the collaboration after receipt of news of successful grant funding.

The annual project planning and reporting cycle also provided several benefits to the team. First, as found in a survey of digital humanities and digital libraries communities, formal project plans and documentation that outlined goals, outcomes and timelines were seen as keys to success. These plans addressed the challenges associated with scheduling and coordinating people, tasks, and resources, and dealt with the question of who is supposed to do what when and with what resources (Lynne Siemens et al., “A Tale of Two Cities”). Second, these types of plans ensure that research does not go dormant because a researcher has accountability to their team members to meet deadlines. Further, resources were attached to the project plan. If a researcher did not follow their project plan and produce research outcomes as outlined, further funds would not be allocated. This is counter to a tendency that can be sometimes seen with one’s own research projects where work efforts may ebb and flow. The plans with check-in points meant that challenges and potential problems could be identified before they became major (Ruecker and Radzikowska). Third, Atkinson Alpert found that the use of tools and processes such as these can lessen the amount of time needed to conduct research and publish it which means that the number of scholarly contributions can be increased. There may be a concern that the planning documents might stifle creativity and innovation, but the yearly process allowed for flexibility and adaptability while staying true to the research question outlined in the grant application (Anderson). Ultimately, the planning process created a sense of cohesion over the years.

Taken together, the governance and annual planning documents served to enhance trust and accountability at a variety of levels, from the individual, administrative committee, partners, and executive committee to the funding agency. In this context, trust is grounded in the assumption that people will behave as predicted and carry out their tasks as planned, an assumption that is needed for effective team performance and engagement (Bagshaw et al.; Bürger and Roijakkers; Davenport et al.; Newell and Swan; Simsarian Webber). This means there is less time and energy spent “protecting, checking and inspecting each other” (Salas et al. 568). Instead, that time and energy can be expended on the tasks and behaviours that the team values (Salas et al.; Simsarian Webber). As trust is cyclical in nature and needs to be continually reinforced, this team increased its cooperative and collaborative processes with each interaction and year where the sub-research areas groups met their project plans. This increased the likelihood of an overall successful collaboration (Bond-Barnard et al.; Vangen and Huxham). But trust can be fragile if conflict arises. One research team found that trust broke down when clear language outlining authorship of chapters, intellectual property rights, and a process for dispute resolution did not exist (Bagshaw et al.). As one caution, some teams express concerns that written agreements may not be seen as trusting; however, they are a step on the way to that end (Ernø-Kjølhede). Planning and other documents should match the size and complexity of the project and meet its particular needs (Anderson; Philbin).

Implications for Practice and Conclusion

With this reflection of INKE’s experiences with governance documents and an annual planning and reporting cycle, several implications for practice can be identified.

Individual Level

First, a researcher must be prepared to work within this type of framework. Olson and Olson discuss the need for a potential team member to be collaboration ready, meaning that they are prepared to work with others and share information. These individuals must be open to other perspectives, willing and able to compromise, communicate, share, and receive information and advice, and be accountable to others (Hayat and Mo; Murnighan and Conlon; Olson and Olson; Spiller et al.). They must also be willing to learn new skills (Ermolaev et al.). Given the individualistic training in graduate school in the humanities, some individuals and academic communities may not be well suited for this type of work within large scale collaborations similar to this one. INKE found in their extended effort to develop the research project and grant application before being successful in securing grant funding that some potential team members could not easily work within the initial project charter and, as a result, stepped back and played different roles on the project (Siemens, “The Potential of Grant Applications”). The governance documents also played a useful role by screening potential new team members for fit with a large collaboration.

Project Level

Second, and above all, INKE found that these documents and processes were fundamental to its success. Given the number of researchers, research assistants, postdoctoral fellows, tasks, resources, timelines, and represented disciplines, the project would not have been able to manage all the moving parts without documentation (Kishchuk). These processes were ways to make expectations clear for every team member, from researchers to postdoctoral fellows to students (Lynne Siemens et al., ““More Minds”). They ensured that there were shared goals, a flow of information between team members, and a common language about the project (Hollaender et al.; Ruuska and Teigland).

While INKE was a large project in the humanities by several different measures, even small projects would benefit from some level of documentation (Anderson; Burress and Rowell; McGinn and Niemczyk; Philbin). McGinn et al. found that even a project that was relatively small with a couple of faculty members and students benefited from written principles which outlined meeting schedules, authorship conventions, graduate students’ involvement, intellectual property rights, and decision making and problem resolution processes. To ensure accountability, each team member signed this document, and they filed it with the Office of Research Services. Some projects that involve Indigenous peoples may also find it helpful to include information about Indigenous protocols (McGinn and Niemczyk). Teams that do not engage in discussion about these areas may find themselves in conflict. By way of example, one international research team had not negotiated authorship, IP rights, and dispute resolution in advance. As a result they found themselves in conflict in these areas once the research was underway (Bagshaw et al.). Ultimately, the goal of documentation is to maximize collaboration benefits and chances of project success while minimizing associated challenges (Atkinson Alpert and Hartshorne; Ernø-Kjølhede; Siemens, “It’s a Team”; Lynne Siemens et al., “More Minds”). The written documents, including project plans, are there for reference when the inevitable questions and challenges among the team and the research work arise (McGinn and Niemczyk).

This kind of documentation is a process that should be started early and used as a way to create buy-in and a shared project identity which overlays disciplinary, national or organizational identities (Ernø-Kjølhede; Siemens, “It’s a Team”). However, this effort should not be taken lightly. Team members who participate in the process of developing governance documents and project plans find the effort to be comparable to the intellectual engagement found in writing an article, and just as time consuming (Ermolaev et al.).

By reflecting on the use of governance documents and project planning and reporting cycles within one particular project, there is an opportunity to help teams on other projects learn about project management (Atkinson Alpert). They can identify potential problems that might occur in the collaboration and ways to resolve them through the experience of other teams (Kraut et al.), rather than through the school of hard knocks. This becomes especially true for DH projects which comprise multiple disciplines, perspectives, and skill sets (Siemens, “It’s a Team”).


Appendix 1: Original INKE Project Charter


Research Project Charter

DATE: 28 November 2006



We are interested in disseminating the results of this project as widely as possible, with credit to us for doing it.

Project members may use any of it as examples in presentations, papers, interviews, and other media opportunities. They may post any of it to their web sites. Wherever possible, they should mention the names of the other project members who were directly involved, as well as the HCI Book Group.

We will also maintain a collaborative project web site, which will contain links to all the presentations and publications of the group.

For presentations or papers where this work is the main topic, all team members should be co-authors. We will adopt the convention of listing the team itself, so that typically the third or fourth author will be listed as “HCI Book Group,” while the actual named authors will be those most responsible for the paper. The individual names of members of the HCI Book Group should be listed in a footnote. Any member can elect at any time not to be listed, but may not veto publication.

For presentations or papers that spin off from this work, only those members directly involved need to be listed as co-authors. The others should be mentioned, if possible, in the acknowledgments, credits, or article citations.

We intend this work to move forward at a steady pace, given due awareness of the vagaries of life.

Project members will make every effort to attend meetings as arranged and to keep in regular contact by email or other electronic means. Frequent absence may result in being warned, then cautioned, then asked to leave the team.

Project members will jointly establish and attempt to meet self-imposed deadlines, in part through providing the project administrator with lists of commitments, so that reminders will be sent out as a matter of routine.

In the event the task is overdue by a considerable amount of time (for instance, whichever is lesser—two months, or double the original timeframe), other members may at their discretion notify the project administrator, who will in turn warn the offender that the task will be re-assigned, without prejudice to the constitution of the team or the public credit of any member.

Project phases will be arranged so as to minimize the need for sequential completion of one phase before another can begin: wherever possible, phases will run in parallel, with communication occurring between teams as they work on each phase, rather than waiting to communicate until the end. The project administrator will help keep communication flowing by producing periodic reports for the whole group on the progress of each team.

We would prefer for this work to be funded.

Project members will watch for and notify each other of funding opportunities and participate wherever possible in the writing of appropriate grant proposals.

We understand that the work we do on this project may have future phases. Modifications and additions may be made to further the project by other members.

In addition to PDFs or other formats for presentation, project members will keep safe and distribute regularly all native files generated for the project: Photoshop, Illustrator, Flash, InDesign, and any other data files or source files. These files will be unflattened and editable. Where copyright restrictions do not apply, fonts should also be included in shared files.

As projects progress to new phases, each team member will have the right of first choice over whether or not to continue with the project.

Insofar as ethics clearances allow, data backup will be provided through central project servers. Local projects should also make provisions for regular backup of all project files, including versions of files in progress.

We wish to communicate in such a way as to preserve professional dignity.

We will strive to maintain a tone of mutual respect whenever we write or meet, and to forgive lapses if they occur.

We will attempt to keep communications transparent, for example, by copying everyone involved in any given discussion, and by directly addressing with each other any questions or concerns that may arise.

We would like to foster goodwill among all the participants.

In making financial decisions, we will attempt to allocate resources in ways that indicate commitment to each of the people on the team.

Members will also watch for and notify each other of opportunities for commercialization and licensing. Any commercial agreements or plans will be made so as to include and equally benefit all members of the group.

We will strive to be a group working toward different parts of a larger, coherent and important whole – one that promises to exceed the sum of its parts.

Signed this day at LOCATION

____________________________ NAME1

____________________________ NAME2

____________________________ NAME3

____________________________ NAME4

Appendix 2: Research Agreement


INKE researchers are

  • academic researchers, with active research involvement in the INKE program of research

  • individuals representing a research partner, with active research capacity in INKE

  • listed as co-investigators, collaborators, or the PI on the grant application, and may also include

    • postdoctoral fellows, and graduate and undergraduate research assistants (defined in the context of our funder, which is Canadian), hired with INKE funds to work on the project, and

    • with the agreement of RAG and the executive committees, they may also be researchers brought in via other funding mechanisms which directly contribute to INKE research

  • differentiated from consultative researchers and partners, who

    • offer invaluable expertise, advice, and research materials, playing a consultative role in the intellectual direction and conduct of the research, and

    • are not actively involved in INKE grant-funded research, but may be involved in adjacent or related research activities, including other grant-funded research in which members of our research team are involved.

As a member of the INKE research team, all researchers

  • are under the direction of team leaders, contribute to achieving the goals outlined in INKE’s research plan, and articulated subsequently by the INKE executive committee, RAG, and team leaders

  • abide by the principles and practices laid out in the INKE charter

  • abide by the SSHRC and Tri-Council policies on the use of grant funds and on the use of human subjects in research, as well as the regulations of their local institutions

  • receive named co-authorship credit on presentations and publications that make direct use of research in which they took an active, as opposed to passive, role (i.e., research to which the individual made a unique and discernable contribution with a substantial effect on the knowledge generated); otherwise, receive indirect credit via the INKE corporate authorship convention

  • use INKE resources, including human resources and travel funds, only in the pursuit of INKE’s research objectives, and with the approval of Research Area Team Leaders

  • suggest opportunities for dissemination of INKE project prototypes and other research results

  • receive direction upon request from any member of their sub-area research team, researcher or partner, provided the request is identified as pertinent to the research of the sub-area research team (the research environment is both collaborative and integrated, and this is intended to augment existing patterns of communication)

  • co-ordinate publications and presentations on INKE research through their team leaders, and provide electronic copies of all submitted paper drafts, presentations (incl. materials like PowerPoint presentations), abstracts, and reader reports to team leaders for deposit with INKE management and archival system

  • respect the confidentiality of unpublished INKE materials (incl. source code) and expect the confidentiality of their own unpublished materials to be respected in return; the agreement surrounding this and other related concerns are found in the INKE IP statement

  • wherever possible seek publication venues that support open-access or conjoint publication, recognizing that having INKE research published in prestigious venues is no less desirable

More specifically, those who are listed as co-investigators on the INKE application are expected to

  • make a significant contribution to the intellectual direction of the research, play a significant role in the conduct of the research, and may also have some responsibility for financial management of the research

  • meet with their sub-area research team leaders, and possibly other INKE researchers at the same time, via teleconference, skype, or videoconference once per month, or as needed in exceptional circumstances, to (1) set research goals, responsibilities, and timelines in accordance with the broad research schedule established in the INKE grant text, (2) articulate the aforementioned in a detailed research plan, (3) report on progress and on milestones attained and articulate these in quarterly progress reports, and (4) ensure the transmission of work from one team to another in accordance with stipulated deadlines plus coordinate dissemination activities

  • meet with at least one of their team leaders in person once per year, or as needed in exceptional circumstances, preferably at conferences where all parties would normally be in attendance, and where it is convenient to so meet; the purpose of this meeting is to discuss research-related concerns

  • interview, hire, and supervise postdoctoral fellows and research assistants in consultation with team leaders and following executive-approved research plans for their areas

  • as appropriate, provide mentoring and collaborative opportunities for postdoctoral fellows and research assistants, and whenever possible seek funding to bring postdoctoral and graduate assistants to major INKE meetings and conference presentations

  • provide research area leaders with reports that itemize completed research tasks, note any dissemination relating to the research, provide the names of post-doctoral and graduate student personnel and the duration of their employment, and detail the funding and training opportunities provided those individuals; they will also provide other reports on work-in-process, and otherwise, as need for the project and as requested by the project managers or others in the project administration

  • upon voluntarily leaving the INKE project, or upon being asked to leave, relinquish their claim to all INKE funds, resources, and credit for subsequent work undertaken by the team

Postdoctoral fellows, graduate and undergraduate assistants

  • follow the direction of their immediate supervisor in carrying out INKE research and, when appropriate, consult with team leaders directly

  • receive mentoring as requested from their supervisors and other INKE researchers, especially in matters of professionalization and related issues; partners and collaborators may help with this process as well

  • receive credit for significant contributions to INKE’s research; significance will be determined by the line of report

Those working with INKE understand the value of conjoint collaboration in INKE’s research commons (methodological and informational), and understand [1] that the material (of any kind, and in any media) a researcher brings to INKE as part of their research involvement will become part of INKE’s research commons and remain among the material that INKE researchers may continue to draw upon in INKE work, with full acknowledgment of INKE and the originating researcher; [2] that, should a researcher leave INKE, the material of the research commons (of any kind, and in any media) that was not explicitly the leaving researcher’s in origin can continue to be used in that researcher’s own research only with the explicit written permission of the INKE executive, and then it can only be used with full acknowledgment to INKE and the original researcher; [3] that any work . . . INKE research commons and INKE will retain first right of refusal for publication and commercialization of that work; [4] that all INKE researchers will use the work of others—including those in the INKE group, and in the research commons—with full acknowledgment of that work’s origins; and [5] that those who make use of INKE materials of any kind, disseminated in any media and via any dissemination principles, do so with full acknowledgment of that work’s origins.

For presentations or papers where this work is the main topic, all team members should be co-authors. We will adopt the convention of listing the team itself, so that typically the third or fourth author will be listed as “INKE Research Group,” while the actual named authors will be those most responsible for the paper. The individual names of members of the INKE Research Group should be listed in a footnote, or where that isn’t possible, through a link to a web page. Any member can elect at any time not to be listed, but may not veto publication. For presentations or papers that spin off from this work, only those members directly involved need to be listed as co-authors. The others should be mentioned if possible in the acknowledgments, credits, or article citations.

Note: Grievance, Conflict and other concerns will be handled via a line of authority structure, a line of authority structure, from GRA/RA/postdoc to researcher to research area leader in the RAG structure to executive committee via the director, with those above in the line of authority copied on all documentation of the issue and its resolution. For example: if a GRA has demonstrated an inability to carry out their assigned responsibilities, the GRA will be warned by their immediate researcher, who will at the time of warning forward documentation, by e-mail, of problem areas and direction for improvement, cc’ing that documentation to the RAG team leader and the director. A researcher may be dismissed or asked to resign if he or she continues to demonstrate an inability to carry out the foregoing responsibilities; in the case of dismissal, the research area leader, in conjunction with the INKE executive, will issue formal notice including a detailed justification in writing. Suspension of duties pending appeal will be effective immediately.

_________________________________ ______________

Printed Name: Date:

_________________________________ ______________

Area Lead: Date:


Research Project Charter

DATE: 7 July 2009

This charter is to be understood within the context of the administrative governance documents and the INKE grant. It is subject to review and update by majority vote of the admin leaders.


  1. We are interested in disseminating the results of this project as widely as possible, with credit to us for doing it.

  2. We will move the work forward according to the research schedule that we are committed to SSHRC to deliver, including the various timelines/milestones, budgets, students, and activities described in the INKE grant.

  3. We would prefer for this work to generate further projects that can also be funded.

  4. We will ensure that everyone on the project has access not only to our research results, but also to our working documents.

  5. We wish to communicate in such a way as to preserve professional dignity.

  6. We will guide ourselves by reference to the SSHRC MCRI best practices document, which is entitled PERFORMANCE REPORT: SSHRC’s Major Collaborative Research Initiatives (MCRI) Program

  7. We will strive for transparency in decision making and communication.

  8. We will actively involve our organizational partners in the project.

  9. We will try to take this opportunity to learn more about project management of large teams.

  10. We would like to foster goodwill among all the participants.

  11. We will work collaboratively.

  12. We will support the development of graduate students in content expertise and collaborative skills.

  13. We will recognize both individual and shared intellectual property.

  14. We acknowledge that time commitments should remain manageable for all participants.

Appendix 3: Yearly plan template

Executive Summary

Active researchers


Collaborating researchers involved on a consultative basis

Research assistants and other personnel

Proposed research directions

Proposed workplan




Lead Researcher





Funding request by researcher

Collaborative activities

Overview of collaborative activities within RAG research team

Overview of collaborative activities within INKE research team

Overview of collaborative activities with partners

Appendix 4: Criteria for Approval of RAG Annual Plans

  1. RAG Level

  • Statement of yearly objectives

    • Link clearly to grant application and past work

  • Clear articulation of tasks, outcomes, dissemination strategies, milestone dates, and budget

    • Responsibility assigned for each task

    • Each active researcher should be assigned specific research tasks and outcomes

  • List of active researchers

  • Clear integration of partners in activities

  • Budget Justification

    • Provide discussion of cash and in-kind contributions

    • Link to activities and outcomes

  • Rationale for any changes in researchers, activities, outcomes, budget, and partners

    • Indication of when further documentation (such as proposal for new partner or associate researcher) will come forward

  • Development plan for GRAs and Postdocs (Year 1 – will be more fully developed in June as part of Milestone Report development)

  • Discussion of coordination activities within RAG

  • Highlight any potential problems/challenges in the upcoming year

  • Overall, has the plan been articulated to sufficient detail to allow for accountability and achievement of RAG goals and objectives

  1. INKE Level

  • Discussion of link of yearly objectives to other RAGs

  • Collaboration/Integration with other RAGs

    • Undertaking tasks/outcomes for other RAGs

    • Receiving tasks/outcomes from other RAGs

    • Joint activities with other RAGs

    • Discussion of coordination across RAGs

  • Overall, has the plan been articulated to sufficient detail to allow for accountability and achievement of INKE goals and objectives

  1. MCRI Program Objectives (reflects the Midterm Review and larger MCRI criteria)

  • The potential to achieve broadly based collaborative research achieving a high level of exchange and integration of both research activities and research results

  • The potential to achieve the development of active partnerships with private and/or public sector groups as well as stakeholders

  • The potential to provide unique opportunities for training students and young researchers in a collaborative environment

  • The potential to support research that achieves integrated and comprehensive syntheses of the critical issues under study

  • The potential to develop dynamic and innovative dissemination strategies to reach out both traditional and new audiences targeting specific stakeholders

  • Involvement of post-secondary institutions in long-term commitments to the development of unique, large-scale interuniversity research initiatives

  • Overall, has the plan been articulated to sufficient detail to allow for accountability and achievement of MCRI goals and objectives

Appendix 5: Year-end Report Template


Publications (Planned versus Actual)


In submission


In progress

Budget Summary

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