Research Collaboration and Mentoring at a Distance: Collaborative Practices, Use of New Media and Relations Among Filipino Researchers

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This chapter explores collaboration and mentoring as a means to bridge gaps between privileged and disadvantaged institutions in the Philippine context. A university in Central Mindanao; a region geographically remote from 'centers' of innovation and intellectual activity and also at the crossfires of political conflict; partnered with well-resourced institutions in Manila; Davao and the US. The project was an ad hoc measure to improve the university's standards and output of research through collaborative research and informal mentoring. Focusing on researchers based in Manila and their respective collaborators from Cotabato; our study sought to identify the challenges and constraints in the program as well as the emergent practices and ways that enabled collaboration and mentoring. The study is premised on the idea that mentoring can facilitate the sharing of knowledge; acquisition of skills and formation of professional networks (Ragins; 2007). Notwithstanding constraints such as material realities; the structure and routine of Philippine academic work and uneven competencies; researchers from Manila and Cotabato were able to develop collaborative and mentoring relationships that are either professional or personal in nature. We find that age combinations shaped the collaboration/mentoring experience and outcomes: there was less tension in pairs of dissimilar age compared to collaborators of equal age. Younger researchers were more open to the mentoring aspect because it contributed to their professional development. Researchers of similar age and rank tended to assert themselves which potentially generated tensions and conflict. Our finding validates current assumptions that tensions are inevitable in collaborative work (Chan; 2015); however; as our study reveals; they can be managed through group mediation or the partners' own initiative.