How To Find International Academic Projects

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This article discusses why you might want to work on an international project, how to get involved and how to think on a global level in order to advance your career.

International projects: why bother?

One of the aspects of scholars’ work that they are often judged on is the international standing of their research and their international participation in their field. Taking part in international projects is one way in which you can enhance your reputation.

So, if you are an academic based in the UK this will give you good results in the forthcoming REF assessment, but it will also look good on your CV when it comes time to apply for promotion or to move to a different institution.

What sorts of international projects can I get involved in?

Here are some of the options for you to think about as an established scholar who already has a post in a university or research institution:

  • twinning: making a formal connection between two university departments or research centres or institutes
  • international collaboration on research
  • jointly running a conference/workshop
  • organising a website with contributors based in different countries
  • writing a book or article with a scholar from overseas
  • encouraging exchange programmes among academics, postgraduates and undergraduates
  • Spending time as a visiting scholar overseas or encouraging your own institution to welcome a visiting scholar in your field

How can I establish these connections?

Obviously for twinning projects senior management at two universities will have to be involved to strategically plan and negotiate the ways the link will work. However, there are also ways in which individual scholars can enhance their chances of working on international academic projects.

  • Contact your university’s international office: they will be able to discuss existing collaborations and connections that are already in place so that you don’t have to start the planning stage from scratch
  • Network with an international focus. Use your usual networking methods but making a special effort to speak to international colleagues. Contacts who have worked abroad will also be able to advise you on the liaisons that might be possible.
  • Conferences: attend overseas conferences or host one yourself and invite overseas speakers. This is a good place to start if you are unsure whether there will be enough common ground between you to make a larger project work.
  • If you do find someone whose work fits closely with yours, think about writing a book or article together. This will appeal to publishers because the resulting publication will sell better globally with authors from different countries contributing.
  • Use the internet: connections and collaborations can be established for very little time and money using the internet. There are often free groups to join with their own discussion boards and forums in each research area and this will help you meet people from around the world. Also the internet is the best research tool when trying to find out about universities in other countries.
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