Sometimes, even though you try, there isn’t a ‘good’ way to do it. Perhaps that's why issues around collaborations - particularly what to do with bad ones - persist so strongly.
A lot of angst can be saved by early discussion about expectations from all team members – who’s doing what, when, and how. As mentioned in this co-authoring post, the division of labour doesn’t have to be equal, it just has to be clear.
On an academic risk management note, make sure you can tick these boxes before embarking on a collaborative project:
- I’ve had at least one research conversation with the collaborator(s) I will be working with.
- We’ve talked about division of labour and timelines for the project.
- I feel comfortable facing my collaborator(s) first thing in the morning to talk about project and publication work. [This is a golden rule with me - ymmv]
- I’m confident that my collaborator(s) bring relevant and appropriate levels of intellectual value to the project.
- My collaborators communicate with me in a timely and constructive manner.
If you can tick off that checklist, it should mean few misunderstandings and disappointments.