By Eilea Knotts
ASLO recently began the LOREX program (an NSF-funded initiative, award #1831075, 2019-2021) where ~30 students can be selected to undergo professional development training and participate in a self-led international collaboration. I was a member of the 1st cohort in 2019.
After the summer collaboration, I thought that it might be the end of my training. I checked off the boxes - completed the workshops (check), attended the conferences (check), and shared my experiences with the next cohort (check). I figured that I had shared the information to the right people and my journey was “complete.” As you can probably tell from the title of the blog....it was not.
I had the amazing opportunity to reconnect with ten members of my cohort while writing a blog about our shared experiences and what we would do differently if we had the chance. I loved our meetings together! We were able to reconnect as a family and share stories and troubles with each other. It was unexpected and delightful to achieve a sense of companionship we initially missed out on when going to different countries. It was during those meetings that the idea of a living handbook was mentioned by Emily Chua and Matt Woodstock. Wouldn’t it be nice to have all the information we had gained through our LOREX experience written somewhere? We were sharing our advice through conversations but what if future participants forgot or didn’t hear us? Emily agreed to head up the idea of creating a living handbook on how to initiate and complete international collaborations.
But what is a living handbook? I knew what a handbook was...but living? Emily and Matt explained that people would add to the document when they saw advice or information was missing. I thought this was perfect for ASLO! While we had a lot of experience from LOREX, we couldn’t cover everything! But what if ASLO members were able to see the document? Researchers who were well-versed in international collaborations could add their knowledge to our own creating a more comprehensive document on international collaborations! Think of how other students and early career researchers could use this information and gain important knowledge!
Of course, our decision to create this handbook arrived at the same time that COVID-19 shut down the United States. Ten members of the first LOREX cohort decided to use this time to meet regularly and build the Living International Collaboration Handbook. I loved our time spent laughing, sharing stories, and putting together the best advice we could think of. Writing this handbook was a bonding experience and I am grateful for the opportunity.
And now, it’s done. The link to the Handbook for International Research Collaborations can be found here. Please feel free to peruse it, control-find the key words you need, and share it with friends, co-workers, and fellow collaborators. If you see an area of the handbook that is lacking or would like to contribute your own advice, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org with the following information: 1) the section you wish to contribute to, 2) the subheading you believe it falls under, and 3) the paragraph, link, etc. that you wish to contribute.
Enjoy the advice and pass it on!