The Year in Team Science, 2010

December 29th, 2010 by John Carey

Attention science faculty and students:  Do you find yourself conducting more and more research as part of a group? And, are those groups becoming more and more likely to include researchers from other disciplines as well as your own? If so, you are part of the growing movement known as team science.

As researchers today tackle increasingly complex projects, such cross-disciplinary collaboration is surging across many fields of science (and the social sciences). Furthermore, researchers studying the citation distributions of scientific papers argue that within the past decade, team-authored work has surpassed solo research when it comes to producing high-impact results.

The growing importance of team-based work has also given rise to the emerging field of “the science of team science,” or SciTS. This new field—which borrows from such disciplines as translational research, communications, and behavioral sciences—aims at understanding the conditions that can either facilitate or hinder the effectiveness of collaborative research.

2010 was a particularly noteworthy year for SciTS, with the debut of two major conferences. In April, the “First Annual International Science of Team Science Conference” took place in Chicago. Northwestern University’s Clinical and Translational Sciences Institute organized the conference in conjunction with several other institutions, including the National Institutes of Health. Read a great summary of the conference by some of its major participants here.

The New York Hall of Science

In August of 2010, at the New York Hall of Science, the VIVO project also held its first ever annual national conference, on the theme of “enabling national networking of scientists.” VIVO offers an online platform for researchers to discover colleagues even outside their own discipline or at other institutions; after all, if more work is being done in teams, and if that work is of greater impact, then finding the right members for a research team is more important than ever.

Expect more developments in SciTS for 2011. Below are some sources—available through the Library or online—for learning more about this emerging field.

Falk-Krzesinski, H. J., Börner, K., Contractor, N., Fiore, S. M., Hall, K. L., Keyton, J., Spring, B., Stokols, D., Trochim, W. and Uzzi, B. (2010). Advancing the science of team science. Clinical and Translational Science, 3: 263–266. doi: 10.1111/j.1752-8062.2010.00223.x

Foon, K.A. (2007). Translational research: Advancing medical science by stimulating interdisciplinary research. Experimental Biology & Medicine, 232: 713–714.

SciTS home page from the Northwestern University Clinical and Translational Sciences Institute, http://scienceofteamscience.northwestern.edu/

VIVO home page, http://www.vivoweb.org/

Wuchty, S., Jones, B.F., and Uzzi, B. (2007). The increasing dominance of teams in production of knowledge. Science, 316: 1036–1039.

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