Defining Criteria and Good Practice to Facilitate Graduate International Collaborations

Principal Investigator: 
Project Overview
Background & Purpose: 

This project constitutes the first step in what we envision as potentially a multi-faceted synthesis research, pilot, and evaluation project to assist the graduate community with the development and dissemination of general criteria and best practices in graduate international collaborations, including research collaborations involving graduate students as well as joint and dual degree programs. This first, primarily synthesis, phase is designed to result in a clearer understanding of what is currently known and valued, what the current gaps in our understanding are, and what areas call for enhanced clarification. An institutional survey, semi-structured interviews, and focus group research will inform a white paper synthesizing what is known about the common challenges faced by institutions and the particular needs for clear institutional guidelines for establishing and sustaining effective international collaborations at the graduate level. The project will result in a “technical workshop” for principal investigators of programs with an international component and graduate deans as well as published materials and resources, including a monograph on good practice in fostering successful international collaborations.


This project is studying U.S. graduate students and researchers involved in international collaborative programs and opportunities, as well as administrators who create the institutional conditions for successful collaborations and exercise oversight in the approval process and sustainability of many of these collaborations.

Research Design: 

The research design for this project is cross-sectional and comparative, and is designed to generate evidence that is descriptive (observational, case study) and associative/correlational (analytic essay). This project collects original data using self-completion questionnaires and face-to-face semi-structured interviews. The survey data will be primarily analyzed via simple frequencies and cross-tabulation. Focus group data will be coded the data identify commonalities; institutional and other factors (such as field, or regional accreditation differences) will be considered in the analysis of differences and moments of strong dissent and agreement. Secondary data such as published research and documented presentations on international collaboration will be used in the analysis. The primary data from the focus group will be used to test the validity of conclusions presented in other types of studies that have not focused on international collaborations at the graduate level.


We administered a survey to all of 46 institutions that indicated in a prior, 2007 CGS survey having formal international degree programs (as well as to all those who indicated plans to develop within the next two years, acknowledging that only a few of this latter group would be may be in a position to complete the survey, with a total of 88 institutions.) The survey is thus a “census survey” of all known universities with international programs rather than a sample. CGS received 44 surveys when it closed the survey, giving us a response rate of approximately 96% of those institutions that had indicated to CGS having existing programs [52% overall]. Surveys were sent to graduate deans, who typically draw on multiple expert resources within the university to provide the most accurate data possible for CGS surveys.

Publications & Presentations: 

• Press Release,

• University World News: “US: Investigating collaboration in graduate education” 28 September, 2008.

• CGS Website:

Other Products: 

A guide to developing and sustaining successful international collaborations.