AAS 196th Meeting, June 2000
Session 12. Amateur-Professional Collaboration in Astronomy
Special Session Oral, Monday, June 5, 2000, 10:00-11:30am, Highland A/K

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[12.03] Direct Collaboration Between Amateur And Professional Astronomers

P. Boltwood (Stittsville, Ontario), A. Sadun (U. of Colorado, Denver)

The authors (Boltwood an amateur, Sadun a professional) have successfully collaborated for the photometry of Blazars and subsequent analysis. Both have been in other collaborations. These experiences are drawn upon to give advice to future collaborators. Collaborations are usually formed because each party has (or can provide) something that the others don't have. The amateur and the professional usually have different motivations. Some of these may be inappropriate and must be properly managed. For example, the taking excess credit by the professional, or the expectation of too much "fun" by the amateur. Mutual respect and trust are essential, but are often not present on either side.

Both sides must be sure that they can hold up their ends of the bargain. The amateur especially needs to understand the large amount of work and the high quality needed. He needs to do what is needed for the project, and do it very well.

The most crucial time is at the formation of the collaboration. Care must be taken on both sides to learn how to run a collaboration, and to be sure that it will work. Clear agreements are needed. Possible mistaken assumptions on both sides must be identified. Nut and bolts problems such as money, library access, conference access, and equipment, software, and file compatibility must be recognized and sorted out.

Successful collaborations are certainly possible, but all parties need to understand what is involved to avoid conflict.

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