Keywords: research collaboration, genomes, DNA sequencing, functional analysis, Celegans, Arabidopsis, yeast, human genome
European collaboration in biotechnology: the molecular analysis of genomes
The new area of genome analysis has led to the rapid formation of large, well-funded international projects which are highly collaborative in nature. The research described here aims to improve our understanding of the research collaboration process through case studies of five genome projects. Large genome centres and extensive networks of small laboratories have adopted large-scale automated sequencing techniques to produce very substantial amounts of publicly available data. All of the genome projects featured the rapid production of data with minimal duplication, increased knowledge, skills and expertise and enhanced status for smaller laboratories. The results suggest that collaboration is more likely to be successful if there is a critical mass of researchers in the same geographical region and effective group leaders to encourage solidarity and research commitment. The research presented here suggests that, far from leading to the demise of the traditional small laboratory, these new large-scale collaborative projects are in fact strengthening the small group which will continue to dominate research in molecular biology through interaction with the large groups.