Understanding that collaboration changes decision making, power, resources, and credit

“Team scholarship is rapidly becoming a primary mode of operation for biomedical researchers and clinicians working on complex questions involving human health.  Making the most of the opportunities that team scholarship has to offer may seem fraught with the challenges of adapting from a solo-investigator culture to one of collaboration.  For example, each person often has a different perception and experience of what this “team scholarship” stuff is all about.”

“Some people naturally function as part of a research team, whereas others must develop and apply skills to enable them to successfully contribute to team efforts.  The same can be said for the ability to lead teams. We have found that effective team members and team leaders possess skills that contribute positively to the overall functioning and success of the team.  They must be able to contribute to building trust, communicate effectively, and both give and receive constructive feedback.  In addition, they must embrace a collaborative spirit, meaning they are willing to share data, credit, and decision-making with other team members.

“At this juncture, we want to point out that the notion of collaboration can also introduce threats.  For investigators who have been trained to work independently, have been promoted based on individual accomplishments, and who are routinely rewarded for their singular contributions to scholarship, a shift to an approach or culture that involves others as equals can be foreign.  In a collaborative setting, there is a requirement for leaders to share decision-making, power, knowledge, resources, and credit.  Investigators may feel more comfortable to think about taking this step after tenure or otherwise secure in their position.  Yet, even this can feel risky.”

From Bennett, L. M., Gadlin, H., Marchand, C. (2018). Collaboration and Team Science Field Guide. 2nd edn., National Institutes of Health Publication No. 18-7660, National Cancer Institute, Bethesda, United States of America.  Here, pages 12 and 15. Bolding ours.

This material was written in the context of team science.  Our emphasis is broader.  Therefore we substituted "scholarship" or "research" for "science" in the text.  We left the title of the manuscript quoted as Team Science so it can be found.