Conservation science is crucial to global conservation efforts, and often involves projects where foreign scientists visit a host country to conduct research. Science can significantly contribute to conservation efforts in host countries. However, poorly conceived and implemented projects can lead to poor conservation outcomes, cause negative impacts on communities, and compromise future research. This paper presents guidance from scientists, managers, and conservation practitioners following the 10th Indo-Pacific Fish Conference, the region's largest ichthyology meeting where delegates presented many examples of collaborative research. The guidance provided focuses on issues regarding planning and preparation, collaboration and reciprocity, and conduct and protocol. The intent is to provide conservation scientists with practical advice from locally based and experienced conservation scientists and practitioners about how to maximise research effectiveness and conservation benefits when working abroad. A range of activities and approaches are suggested that visiting scientists can adopt and implement to build the relationships and trust needed for effective collaboration with local actors. Building effective collaborations between local actors and visiting scientists can maximise research effectiveness and impact by ensuring that projects address the most important issues and conservation concerns, involve the appropriate people, use suitable methods and approaches, and carefully consider local contexts and ethics. Such projects are more likely to provide lasting benefits to both parties, and enhance conservation outcomes. However, both visiting scientists and local actors need to communicate clearly, be accommodating, and commit to a genuine partnership to realise these benefits.