Say I am working on some specific research question, and during the course of my research I discover that some other group of researchers are working on the exact same problem (in my case I learned this because the authors of a paper had my research problem listed in their future work section). My questions are:

  1. Should I notify the other researchers that I am working on the same problem? It seems unethical to let them continue on their way without knowing that they may be wasting their time and money.
  2. If I do notify them, is best practice generally to start collaborating on the problem, or should we continue separately knowing that we’re “racing” towards a result? Theoretically the goal of academic research is to expand the realm of human knowledge, so it seems counter-productive to knowingly avoid sharing information that would probably lead to a deeper result (and more quickly).

Full disclosure: I found myself in this position last year and did not notify the other researchers. Luckily, I suppose, I ended up publishing my results first. I have heard some horror stories from other researchers about months of research being wasted because of this exact scenario, so I am curious as to what I should do in the future should this happen again.

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