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Science of team science

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

The concept of team science is a field of scientific philosophy and methodology which advocates using cross-disciplinary collaboration from diverse scientific fields to solve present-day to day problems.[1] The field encompasses conceptual and methodological strategies aimed at understanding and enhancing the processes and outcomes of collaborative, team-based research by pooling resources from different countries, labs and groups to solve problems.

It is useful to distinguish between team science (TS) initiatives and the science of team science (SciTS) field.[2][3][4] Team science initiatives are designed to promote collaborative, and often cross-disciplinary (which includes multidisciplinary, interdisciplinary, and transdisciplinary) approaches to answering research questions about particular phenomena. The SciTS field, on the other hand, is concerned with understanding and managing circumstances that facilitate or hinder the effectiveness of collaborative science, and evaluating the outcomes of collaborative science. Its principal units of analysis are the research, training, and community-based translational initiatives implemented by both public and private sector organizations.

The SciTS field focuses on understanding and enhancing the antecedent conditions, collaborative processes, and outcomes associated with team science initiatives, including their scientific discoveries, educational outcomes, and translations of research findings into new practices, patents, products, technical advances, and policies.


Since the 1990s, there has been a growing interest and investment in large-scale, team-based research initiatives to address problems that require cross-disciplinary collaboration.[2][5][6][7] The rise in team science parallels the increase in specialization among scientists. The rapid growth and accumulation of specialized knowledge in multiple fields has created a need to establish partnerships among scientists and practitioners drawn from several different fields in order to address complex environmental, social, and public health problems.[5][6][8]

The interdisciplinary nature of SciTS initially emerged from practical concerns on the part of funding agencies, which needed to gauge the performance of team science, understand its added value, determine the return on investment of large research initiatives, and inform science policy.[2] The term "science of team science" was first introduced in October, 2006, at a conference called The Science of Team Science: Assessing the Value of Transdisciplinary Research, hosted by the National Cancer Institute, in Bethesda, Maryland.[9] The emerging SciTS field was further developed in a supplement to the American Journal of Preventive Medicine, published in July 2008. Two years later, the First Annual International Science of Team Science (SciTS) Conference was held on April 22–24, 2010 in Chicago, Illinois, organized by the Northwestern University Clinical and Translational Sciences (NUCATS) Institute. The Chicago conference brought together team science investigators and practitioners from a broad range of disciplines, including translational research; organizational behavior; social, cognitive, and health psychology; communications; complex systems; evaluation science; technology; and management.

As a developing field of inquiry, the terminology, methodologies, and outcomes of SciTS are still being debated and defined, and new hypotheses regarding the most effective strategies for implementing and sustaining team science are beginning to be tested and the results published. While the SciTS literature base is currently limited, the field is founded on a body of knowledge of team research conducted by scholars in diverse fields such as organizational science, community health promotion, and social psychology, as well as from groups outside academia, including business and the military. SciTS research findings are starting to be translated into evidence-based tools and support structures that aim to improve the efficiency and success of team science initiatives.[2]

In 2013, the National Academy of Sciences established a National Research Council Committee on the Science of Team Science to evaluate the current state of knowledge and practice in the SciTS field.[10] A Committee report was published in 2015.[11]

In 2021, Dr. David Lady, one of the original science of teams practitioners, published his field notes providing a tested philosophical framework.[12]

In 2023, Patrick Forscher and colleagues published a review to detail the benefits of big team science such that the innovations allow one to gather larger samples, robust research strategies and code, allowing replication, reproducibility and generalizability to continue,[13][14] in turn how it can make science more trustworthy to combat replication crisis. However, there is a worry that team science could dominate science, absorbing funding in the pursuit of theoretical as opposed to practical problems.[15] Forscher recommended that they create an advisory board, create structured bylaws, formalize ways to solicit feedback from contributors and engage in mentoring and separate idea generation from project implementation.[14]


The methods and measures used to evaluate team science evolve with the interdiscipline of SciTS.[2] The definition of a successful team may be different depending on the stakeholder. For example, funding agencies may be more interested in performance measures related to the translation of team research findings to practical applications, whereas team researchers may use the number of publications produced and amount grant funding obtained to gauge the success of a Team Science endeavor. In addition, the method of evaluation and metrics of success may vary at different points during the team research project. Short-term measures may include indicators of synergistic output, whereas long-term measures may be related to the impact of the research on the evolution of a discipline or the development of public policy.

SciTS uses both qualitative and quantitative methods to evaluate the antecedent conditions, collaborative processes, and outcomes associated with team science, as well as the organizational, social, and political context that influences team science.[2] These methods include approaches such as surveys, ethnographic observation, case studies, and interviews of members of science teams; social network, mapping and visualization techniques (e.g., graphical representations of collaboration formation and dissolution, geographic distribution of collaborators, funding patterns, patent awards, time to production and commercialization, etc.); and bibliometric analyses (e.g., assessment of co-authored papers and grants).[citation needed]

The field would benefit from science agencies and associated policies to put into place advanced computational infrastructures, which will enable the analysis of terabytes of data to identify the factors that contribute to or hinder the success of science teams.[citation needed] Ideally, evaluation of team science initiatives is performed in real time, during active collaborations, so that the information results can be fed back to the scientific team to enhance its efficiency and effectiveness.

A recent review demonstrated


Scientists engaged in team science collaborations have traditionally relied on heuristics to make team science work. Through only their own experiences—what might be called the art of team science—they have tried to discern what facilitates team science and what obstacles stand in the way of a collaboration's success. By studying the practice of team science, SciTS researchers aim to develop a set of evidence-based tools and recommendations that can then be used to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of team science initiatives. For example, SciTS researchers may identify approaches to facilitate the formation and function of successful collaborative science teams, remove inter-institutional barriers to team science, support effective collaboration among researchers who work together within a team, and develop team science training programs.[2][16]

Progress is being made on a few fronts toward the development of practical tools and recommendations to support the team science process. The SciTS research community is working toward the creation of an evidence base for the development of a set of "effective practices", which can be incorporated into team science training to ensure that the next generation of scientists develops the skills necessary to engage in effective team science. Several groups are developing team science "toolboxes" or "toolkits" that provide resources that can assist researchers with the collaborative science process, including guiding questions that support discussion on collaborative goals and common metrics of success and assigning individual tasks and responsibilities; guidelines for developing a shared "language" that can be used among researchers from different disciplinary backgrounds; models for communications infrastructure that can support geographically dispersed collaborations; tools for assessing team members' readiness to collaborate; curricula for training team members in skills for team science; and model "prenuptial agreements" for collaborators that can help to establish agreement on rights to authorship and patents that result from scientific collaborations. Other groups are developing online social networking tools to help scientists identify potential collaborators, and creating centralized databases of measures and instruments that can be used by SciTS researchers, program evaluators, or those who are engaged in team science to assess the processes and outcomes of team science initiatives.[17]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "About INSciTS". www.inscits.org. Archived from the original on 2022-05-17. Retrieved 2022-06-01.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g Stokols, Daniel; Hall, Kara L.; Taylor, Brandie K.; Moser, Richard P. (2008). "The Science of Team Science" (PDF). American Journal of Preventive Medicine. 35 (2): S77–S89. doi:10.1016/j.amepre.2008.05.002. ISSN 0749-3797. PMID 18619407. S2CID 17612279. Archived (PDF) from the original on 2020-04-30. Retrieved 2013-11-28.
  3. ^ Stokols, Daniel; Misra, Shalini; Moser, Richard P.; Hall, Kara L.; Taylor, Brandie K. (2008). "The Ecology of Team Science" (PDF). American Journal of Preventive Medicine. 35 (2): S96–S115. doi:10.1016/j.amepre.2008.05.003. ISSN 0749-3797. PMID 18619410. S2CID 7814454. Archived (PDF) from the original on 2020-04-30. Retrieved 2013-11-28.
  4. ^ "System". Archived from the original on 2022-08-14. Retrieved 2023-01-22.
  5. ^ a b Wuchty S; Jones BF; Uzzi B (2007). "The increasing dominance of teams in production of knowledge". Science. 316 (5827): 1036–9. Bibcode:2007Sci...316.1036W. CiteSeerX doi:10.1126/science.1136099. PMID 17431139. S2CID 3208041.
  6. ^ a b Jones BF; Wuchty S; Uzzi B (2008). "Multi-university research teams: shifting impact, geography, and stratification in science". Science. 322 (5905): 1259–62. Bibcode:2008Sci...322.1259J. doi:10.1126/science.1158357. PMID 18845711. S2CID 18809307.
  7. ^ Alessandroni, Nicolás; Altschul, Drew; Bazhydai, Marina; Byers-Heinlein, Krista; Elsherif, Mahmoud; Gjoneska, Biljana; Huber, Ludwig; Mazza, Valeria; Miller, Rachael; Nawroth, Christian; Pronizius, Ekaterina; Qadri, Muhammad A. J.; Šlipogor, Vedrana; Soderstrom, Melanie; Stevens, Jeffrey R. (2024). "Comparative Cognition Needs Big Team Science: How Large-Scale Collaborations Will Unlock the Future of the Field". Comparative Cognition & Behavior Reviews. 19: 67–72. doi:10.3819/CCBR.2024.190001.
  8. ^ Vlasceanu, Madalina; Doell, Kimberly C.; Bak-Coleman, Joseph B.; Todorova, Boryana; Berkebile-Weinberg, Michael M.; Grayson, Samantha J.; Patel, Yash; Goldwert, Danielle; Pei, Yifei; Chakroff, Alek; Pronizius, Ekaterina; van den Broek, Karlijn L.; Vlasceanu, Denisa; Constantino, Sara; Morais, Michael J. (2024-02-09). "Addressing climate change with behavioral science: A global intervention tournament in 63 countries". Science Advances. 10 (6): eadj5778. Bibcode:2024SciA...10J5778V. doi:10.1126/sciadv.adj5778. ISSN 2375-2548. PMC 10849597. PMID 38324680.
  9. ^ National Cancer Institute, Division of Cancer Control and Population Sciences Web site. Archived 2010-05-27 at the Wayback Machine Accessed May 12, 2010.
  10. ^ "The Science of Team Science". National Academies Web Server sites.nationalacademies.org. 2013-01-11. Archived from the original on 2019-09-10. Retrieved 2018-05-09.
  11. ^ Committee on the Science of Team Science; Board On Behavioral, Cognitive; Division of Behavioral Social Sciences Education; National Research, Council; Cooke, N. J.; Hilton, M. L. (2015-07-15). Enhancing the Effectiveness of Team Science. Washington, D.C.: National Academies Press. doi:10.17226/19007. ISBN 978-0-309-31682-8. PMID 26247083.
  12. ^ "System". Archived from the original on 2022-08-14. Retrieved 2023-01-22.
  13. ^ Köhler, Tine; Cortina, Jose M. (February 2021). "Play It Again, Sam! An Analysis of Constructive Replication in the Organizational Sciences". Journal of Management. 47 (2): 488–518. doi:10.1177/0149206319843985. hdl:11343/227060. ISSN 0149-2063.
  14. ^ a b Forscher, Patrick S.; Wagenmakers, Eric-Jan; Coles, Nicholas A.; Silan, Miguel Alejandro; Dutra, Natália; Basnight-Brown, Dana; IJzerman, Hans (May 2023). "The Benefits, Barriers, and Risks of Big-Team Science". Perspectives on Psychological Science. 18 (3): 607–623. doi:10.1177/17456916221082970. ISSN 1745-6916. PMID 36190899.
  15. ^ Kreamer, Liana M.; Cobb, Haley R.; Castille, Christopher; Cogswell, Joshua (2024-02-01). "Big team science initiatives: A catalyst for trustworthy advancements in IO psychology". Acta Psychologica. 242: 104101. doi:10.1016/j.actpsy.2023.104101. ISSN 0001-6918. PMID 38064907.
  16. ^ Fiore SM. Interdisciplinarity as teamwork: how the science of teams can inform team science. Small Group Res. 2008;39:251–277.
  17. ^ Ombudsman. Collaboration and Team Science. Archived 2018-01-23 at the Wayback Machine Bethesda, MD: National Institutes of Health; 2010.

Further reading[edit]

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