Introduction: Impactful, transdisciplinary scientific discoveries are created by teams of researchers spanning multiple disciplines, but collaboration across disciplines can be challenging. We examined how team dynamics and collaboration are related to successes and barriers faced by teams of researchers from multiple disciplines. Methods: A mixed-methods approach was used to examine 12 research teams granted multidisciplinary pilot awards. Team members were surveyed to assess their team dynamics and individual views about transdisciplinary research. Forty-seven researchers (59.5%) responded, including two to eight members from each funded team. Associations were examined between collaborative dynamics and scholarly product outcomes, including manuscripts, grant proposals, and awarded grants. One member from each team was selected for an in-depth interview to contextualize and extend information about collaborative processes, successes, and barriers to performing transdisciplinary research. Results: Quality of team interactions was positively associated with achievement of scholarly products (r = 0.64, p = 0.02). Satisfaction with team members (r = 0.38) and team collaboration scores (r = 0.43) also demonstrated positive associations with achievement of scholarly products, but these were not statistically significant. Qualitative results support these findings and add further insight into aspects of the collaborative process that were particularly important to foster success on multidisciplinary teams. Beyond scholarly metrics, additional successes from the multidisciplinary teams were identified through the qualitative portion of the study including career development and acceleration for early career researchers. Conclusions: Both the quantitative and qualitative study results indicate that effective collaboration is critical to multidisciplinary research team success. Development and/or promotion of team science-based trainings for researchers would promote these collaborative skills.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere59
JournalJournal of Clinical and Translational Science
Issue number1
StatePublished - Feb 3 2023

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Dispersion in team tenure. Dispersion in team tenure describes the variability in the length of time that team members have worked with each other [26, 29-31]. Others have suggested that the variability in team tenure can promote workgroup diversity and add a greater variety of knowledge and experiences to the team [29]. From our survey, we calculated each participant’s self-reported dispersion in team tenure as the standard deviation of the number of years they have collaborated with each of their pilot team members. Quantitative Outcomes Quantitative outcomes were the number and type of scholarly products (publications, grant proposals, and grants awarded) that resulted in relation to the initial pilot award. Publications related to the pilot award were determined by searching Scopus and PubMed for manuscripts and abstracts published after the pilot approval date that include at least one member of the pilot team as co-author and contain at least one title keyword match with the pilot award title. When relatedness with the pilot award was unclear based on the publication title, abstracts were analyzed or pilot team members were consulted to determine relatedness between the published work and the pilot award. Grant proposals submitted that are related to the pilot award were determined by searching the University database for submitted proposals meeting the following criteria: (1) submitted after the pilot approval date, (2) principal investigator of the submission is a member of the pilot award team, and (3) submission is related to the pilot award as determined via title keyword match, abstract review, and pilot awardee assessment. Submissions for non-competing renewals, internal awards, and Center funding mechanisms were excluded, and some types of submissions, such as Veteran’s Affairs proposals, are not present in the database and thus were searched manually. Subsequent grants awarded that are related to the pilot award were determined using the same process as was used for identifying related grant proposals, except that awarded grants were searched rather than submitted proposals.

Publisher Copyright:
© The Author(s), 2023. Published by Cambridge University Press on behalf of The Association for Clinical and Translational Science.


  • Team science
  • collaboration
  • evaluation
  • mixed methods
  • transdisciplinary research

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine (all)


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