Collaboration and Team Science: A Field Guide

by L. Michelle Bennett, Howard Gadlin, and Samantha Levine-Finley

As modern research methods have become more specialized and the true complexity of today’s most pressing health issues and diseases is revealed, collaborations among scientists trained in different fields have become essential for exploring and tackling these problems. This specialization of research methods has made interdependence, joint ownership, and collective responsibility between and among scientists near requirements. These features of team science may not suit everyone, but given these current trends, it is increasingly likely that most researchers will find themselves asked to participate on or lead a research team at some point in their careers.

As the focus on research teams sharpens, questions are emerging about what constitutes a successful team and how research teams can maximize their effectiveness and experiences. Not every team is successful—some are able to achieve only some of their goals, or fail and dissolve. Other teams are highly successful—reaching and often exceeding their recognized goals and creating positive experiences for team members and the institutions that support them. Why is this the case? What constitutes a successful research team? Why do some research teams succeed while others do not? What factors maximize a research team’s productivity or effectiveness? How can research teams be best recognized, evaluated, and rewarded?

Collaboration and Team Science: A Field Guidedisclaimer was developed to help researchers navigate some of the rocky and murky territory associated with building a team either on their own or at the request of someone in their organization. It is intended for anyone who is currently participating on or leading a research team, considering becoming involved in a research team, or contemplating building a research team.