- Research staff
- Research skills
- Working collaboratively with others
- Different cultures working together
Different cultures working together
As a researcher you will often find yourself working with people from different sectors, disciplines, other religious backgrounds and countries. Cultural practices based on history, tradition, belief system and use of language vary hugely. This page aims to help you avoid some common pitfalls.
Working with people from different cultural and religious backgrounds
- agree on a common language for work-related communication, both in email and in the office or lab. Both formal and informal communication needs to be understood by everyone working on the project
- avoid metaphors or colloquialisms. These may not be understood by non-native speakers
- be sensitive to cultural and religious beliefs and practices. Make sure that events or social gatherings are appropriate for all (e.g. a team-building lunch may be more inclusive than a drink at the pub)
- when working with colleagues based in another country be aware of the time difference, of different working hours (e.g. siestas) and different holiday periods. Take account of these in scheduling and in planning communications.
Working with people from different disciplines
- particular words and phrases may have different meanings in different disciplines. This may only become apparent through discussion, so be alert to the possibility of misunderstanding
- researchers from different disciplines may have different approaches to data collection and data analysis. Identify and explore these. If you can, apportion responsibility for different parts of the project. Respect and value the diversity of approach that this brings. If this is not feasible, try to negotiate an approach to data collection and analysis that the majority is happy with
- different disciplines have different protocols for listing authors on research publications. Some list authors alphabetically, others on the basis of their contribution to the project. Make sure you agree an approach before the research begins.
Working with people from different employment sectors
- particular words and phrases may have different meanings in different employment sectors. Be alert to the possibility of misunderstanding
- different employment sectors may have different working practices, including preferred communication methods (email? telephone?). Check which ones to use
- different employment sectors may have different holiday periods (e.g. public holidays, ‘shut down’ periods). Check on these when setting deadlines
- institutions that are not research-led will have non-research priorities. These may take their focus away from the project. Allow for this in scheduling
- different employment sectors may have different expectations of the research output (e.g. a report ‘selling’ a particular point of view rather than an objective academic paper). Make sure that you are aware of and happy with this!
Comment on this page.