One of the toughest parts of collaborative science is communication across disciplines. I’ve had many (generally initial) conversations with bench biologists, clinicians, and sometimes others that go approximately like:
“So, tell me what you can do with my data.”
“OK- tell me what questions you’re asking.”
“Um,.. that kinda depends on what you can do with it.”
“Well, that kinda depends on what you’re interested in…”
And this continues.
But the great part- the part about it that I really love- is that given two interested parties you’ll sometimes work to a point of mutual understanding, figuring out the borders and potential of each other’s skills and knowledge. And you generally work out a way of communicating that suits both sides and (mostly) works to get the job done. This is really when you start to hit the point of synergistic collaboration- and also, sadly, usually about the time you run out of funding to do the research.