Dilemma - what should you do if your research collaborators don't respond to your emails?

Dilemma - what should you do if your research collaborators don't respond to your emails?  

  By: Andy Nobes on March 13, 2018, 1:01 p.m.

Hi everyone,

I want to share a dilemma that we discussed in our previous forums. It's from an anonymous AuthorAID member who had problems with his multi-country research project. Perhaps we can offer some advice and tips to this researcher from our own experience?

Here is the story:

A researcher and director of a health centre in West Africa established contact with some other researchers on the AuthorAID network to be part of a multi-country empirical research project, involving writing articles and systematic review for publication. The lead researcher drafted a work plan with specific goals for the multi-country joint proposal and circulated it to the other five members, who were based in East Africa, South Asia and the Caribbean. The first task was to gather country-specific background data, which the lead researcher has successfully collected. However, two months later, only one of the participants has responded to say they have had problems getting the data. After a follow-up email, in which the lead researcher offered assistance and a useful template, none of the other participants have responded.  He also tried contacting the other researchers on WhatsApp, but to no avail.

The lead researcher is unable to tell if the other researchers are busy, have lost interest, or are still having problems or challenges with the data. He was hoping to draft a protocol and submit to a funding body to implement the study in each of the participating countries, but now everything is on hold.

What would you suggest the lead researcher does next? Have you had similar experiences? How have you overcome them?


Andy Nobes

Forum Administrator

Re: Dilemma - what should you do if your research collaborators don't respond to your emails?  

  By: Mehraz Boolaky on March 13, 2018, 2:07 p.m.

Dear Andy

This is an excellent case study for discussions. Although I had not experienced such issues (I haveco  published with a number of co researchers in a few parts of the world), as a lead researcher I would waste no time with those who ffailed to respond but politeness and ethic obliged, I would first gave them a final reasonable deadline to respond without sharing the protocol but advising them baout the same. If by the deadline given, I would reconsider the case of those who responded and forget those who did not respond. It is perhaps an opportunity for Authoraid to create better awareness of the pool of researchers who are ready to join a bandwagon serously and this would help the lead researcher to go ahead with his project and apply for funding.

Thank you.


Mehraz Boolaky

AuthorAID Community Moderator