Most of the time in a team – sometimes a small team of just me and a PhD student, but other times a big team. During the Ebola epidemic in West Africa, 14 of us were working on Ebola in our group at Imperial College in London but we had colleagues in Geneva at the World Health Organization and in the affected West African countries who were working with us.
Great question. I’d say a bit of both. Generally scientists work in teams. We discuss ideas, everyone is expert in slightly different things and we work together in a group, and different groups may collaborate on a project together. However within those teams everyone has their own job to do. Think of it like a football team – everyone has their own individual position/role to play but it’s more successful if they help each other out!
Compared to other jobs I’ve worked in, scientists are much more independent from their teams. That said, collaboration is vital to high quality science so we have to be good communicators and teachers too!
Could depend on you and on the subject, I’d say. On one hand, there are entire teams devoted to teaching robots to move around and avoid obstacles. On the other hand – in fields like maths and human-computer interaction it seems a lot of people work alone on their own specific projects, or at most work in 2-4-people teams.