Team Science

With high-impact science increasingly done on large, multidisciplinary, and multi-institutional teams, the ICRE has focused on fostering strong team science skills among our trainees.

Drawing from the growing research literature on team science, we have identified the following set of team science competencies and integrated them into our courses and training programs.

  • Team Formation: Use recommended recruitment and hiring methods to assemble a team with appropriate skills and knowledge, compatible working styles, and sufficient availability.
  • Team Communication: Define a vision, align goals, clarify roles and responsibilities, and set clear expectations. Encourage a range of perspectives and address conflict proactively.
  • Team Orientation: Prioritize team meetings, meet deadlines, contribute regularly, take responsibility for moving the team forward, and demonstrate a positive, collaborative outlook.
  • Team Management: Coordinate team members, distribute work, hold regular meetings with clear goals and agendas, plan thoughtfully, and set realistic time tables and deadlines.
  • Team Assessment: Establish metrics to gauge success, monitor team and individual progress, provide regular feedback to team members, and solicit feedback on your own performance.
  • Team Morale: Build relationships and establish trust, provide motivation for sustained engagement, reward contributions, and give recognition fairly.

In 2017, we hosted a symposium featuring international team experts, Drs. Eduardo Salas (Rice University) and Anita Woolley (Carnegie Mellon University), who spoke about critical factors in team assembly and team functioning. Drs. Salas and Woolley also provided guidance to the Team Science Working Group on the development of team science training.

In June 2017, we offered a “Developing a Competitive NIH Research Program Project Application” panel discussion to support the development of P01 applications.

In April 2018, the ICRE offered a two-day workshop for K and T scholars titled “Building Successful Research Teams.” This hands-on workshop incorporated a variety of activities and role-plays to build team skills and provided practical training on finding collaborators, hiring staff, running effective meetings, and managing conflict. The design of the workshop was informed by a qualitative study we conducted on the teams of early-career investigators and the perceived training needs of their PIs.

To reduce tensions that can arise over authorship credit and to boost publication productivity on teams, we developed an authorship agreement, which encourages early discussion of authorship roles, responsibilities, and deadlines. We have promoted the use of this agreement among our trainees and their mentors, and are currently studying its impact.

To help team leaders align team goals, improve team processes, enhance team performance, and address conflict, we developed a set of Team Science Activity Cards, each with one short activity team members can do together during team meetings. We drew the activities from multiple sources, pilot tested them with several research groups, and refined them for greater applicability to clinical researchers.

Authorship can be a tricky issue to navigate. To help early-career investigators anticipate and avoid authorship tensions, we held a panel discussion in which experienced researchers shared authorship and publication “war stories” and shared tips for navigating authorship issues.

We are offering Human Centered Design (HCD) training to members of research teams. HCD is a structured yet flexible approach to problem solving that focuses on building empathy, sparking out-of-the-box thinking, and designing innovative and impactful solutions to healthcare problems. Learn more about HCD training opportunities here:

The Team Science Working Group

Doris M. Rubio, PhD

Working Group Director

Yael Schenker,

Working Group Associate Director

Institute for Clinical Research Education
200 Meyran Avenue, Suite 300
Pittsburgh, PA 15213


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