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Table 1 The eight factor solution

From: Mind the gap: rigour and relevance in collaborative heritage science research

Factor name



Attitude statements*

Ease of collaboration

This factor contains statements relating to the quality of the collaborative relationship with partners. In particular, whether the partnership felt open, trusting and natural and whether there were shared goals and interests. The factor also appears to refer to the ease/difficulties of interdisciplinary working, including establishing a shared language.

Trust, naturally, easily, open, common ground, interests, common understanding, aligned, share, felt, found, partners, people, other disciplines and practices, terminologies and concepts.

Q15: I found that project partners were open to other disciplines and practices

Q56: I felt that partners trusted me to know what I was doing

Q53: I found that collaboration arose naturally between people

Q22: I found my interests easily aligned with those of project partners

Q60: Partners in the project were willing to share data and results

Q41: I found it difficult to interest partners in my ideas (-)

Q26: I found it difficult to establish common ground with project partners (-)

Q51: I found it difficult to establish a common understanding of terminologies and concepts (-)

Collaborative working style

Statements in this factor relate to a respondent’s preference for working in collaboration or as an individual, and whether they were interested in collaborating and felt it was needed.

Contact, collaboration, essential, required, only, wanted, preferred, alone, sole/co authorship

Q31: I wanted to have lots of contact with the project partners

Q32: Collaboration was essential to my work on the project

Q35: I only collaborated because my institution required it (-)

Q20: I preferred to work alone (-)

Q58: I preferred sole authorship to co-authorship (-)

Interest in bridging disciplines

This factor represents a theme that emerged consistently during the analysis, but is less reliable than other factors. The factor relates to an interest in the process of collaboration, interdisciplinarity and communications as opposed to the products of collaboration.

Interested, language, bridge, between, partners, different disciplines and practices.

Q55: I was interested in the different language styles of project partners (e.g. from different disciplines and practices)

Q24: I was interested in finding ways to bridge between different project partners (e.g. across disciplines and practices)

Institutional recognition

Statements in the factor relate to institutional recognition and reward of a project, related to an institution perceiving a project as relevant to them.

Project, recognised, institution, positive, relevant, rewarded

Q33: The project was recognised within my institution as a positive thing

Q57: My institution didn’t think the project was relevant to them (-)

Q46: My institution rewarded participation in this project

Internal procedures & working practices**

Statements in this factor relate to real or perceived impediments to research due to working practices (particularly academic research) and users’ understanding of academic research processes. Respondents who agreed with the first three statements and disagreed with Q49 may also have found that negotiation was a key aspect of their work on the project.

Intellectual property protection, got in the way, internal procedures, users, didn’t understand, time-consuming, understanding, how academic research works, negotiation

Q27: I found that intellectual property protection got in the way of the research

Q17: Internal procedures got in the way of the project (e.g. contractual agreements and ethics applications)

Q36: Users in the project didn’t understand how time-consuming collaborative research is

Q49: Users in the project had an understanding of how academic research works (-)

Q25: The project was all about negotiation

Practice-focussed research

Respondents who agree with the first two statements in this factor wanted their project to be inspired by practical problems and communicated in non-academic terms. Their preference was for practice-focussed applied research rather than research focused on generating new knowledge. The factor is not as statistically reliable as other factors and overlaps with questions on goals.

Inspired, practical problems, communicate, non-academic terms, generating new knowledge, practical solutions

Q12: I felt it was important to communicate the results of the research in non-academic terms

Q14: I wanted the project to be inspired by practical problems

Q30: I felt that the project should be more about generating new knowledge than practical solutions (-)

Research quality**

Statements in this factor relate to the quality of research in a project. Respondents who agreed with the first four statements tended to disagree, or agree to a lesser extent, with the fifth statement (that there was a commitment to high quality research). Research quality appears to encompass both academic rigour and relevance to users.

Results, research, credible, uncomfortable, approaches, academic research, did not deliver, users, needed, lacked the depth, commitment, high quality

Q50: I did not feel that the results of the research were credible

Q52: I was uncomfortable with some of the research approaches in the project

Q54: The academic research did not deliver what users needed

Q28: The project lacked the depth of purely academic research

Q11: There was a commitment to high quality research (-)

Understanding partners’ research approaches**

Statements in this factor related to partners’ understanding of each other’s methods, goals and culture (e.g. language and ways of working). If a respondent agreed with statements in this factor it might imply a lack of mutual understanding, competing goals or dissatisfaction with both academics’ and users’ approaches (reflected in both academic methods being perceived as too complex and users too focused on applied outcomes). The factor also suggests that opportunities for knowledge exchange could facilitate mutual understanding.

Methodologies, academic researchers, complex, users, focused, applied outcomes, language, impenetrable, opportunities to interact, knowledge exchange, project partners, stick, established, way of working

Q39: Methodologies introduced to the project by academic researchers were too complex

Q40: Users were too focused on the applied outcomes of the project

Q38: I found the language used by some project partners impenetrable

Q43: Researchers and users did not have enough opportunities to interact (e.g., for knowledge exchange)


Q34: Project partners preferred to stick to their established way of working

  1. Notes: *Factor scores were calculated by taking the mean rating across the attitude statements in each factor. Ratings labelled with ‘-’ were reversed when calculating factor scores. **Factor scores were reversed for the purposes of reporting results so that positive scores indicated enablement and negative scores indicated impediments.