Promoting Team Science - Council of Graduate Departments of

Promoting Team Science
Helping Junior Faculty Safely Participate
Susan C. Levine
University of Chicago
Benefits of Team Science
• Team science allows investigators to address
questions that are beyond the scope of a single
investigator or additive effects of separate
projects (whole is greater than sum of parts)
• Team science also can contribute to the diversity
of a department.
– Bonnie Spring, Arlen C. Moller, and Holly Falk-Krzesinski.
Northwestern University, 11 Apr. 2011. Web.
– Rhoten and Pfirman, 2007, Research Policy, Inside Higher Education and
WMI Workshop Nov 12-13, 2007)
Editorial on Nobel Prize
Scientific American, October 12, 2012
Key Point of Editorial
• “Now that teams, not individuals, drive highimpact science, the Nobel Foundation should
change how it awards its prize”
• “In the [111] years since the prize was first
awarded, the nature of [the pursuit of truth
and discovery] has profoundly changed. It is
time that the Nobel did as well.”
But just yesterday
• Announcement of first winners of
Breakthrough Prize in Life Sciences – backed
by Silicon Valley pioneers
• 11 individuals were awarded $3M each
Many ways to do science
Scientists are people of very dissimilar temperaments
doing different things in very different ways.
Among scientists are collectors, classifiers, and
compulsive tidiers-up; many are detectives by
temperament and many are explorers; some are artists
and others artisans. There are poet-scientists and
philosopher-scientists and even a few mystics. …”
Peter Medewar, The Art of the Soluble (1967)
Discovery, Integration, Application, and Teaching
Boyer, Scholarship Reconsidered,
Priorities of the Professoriate (1990)
No More Lonely Scientists
• “Today, it’s about applying fundamental
discoveries and technologies to [clinical]
problems, and this requires project teams,
each member bringing different expertise to
the table. This is an exciting time…” (Elizabeth
Fini, Vice Dean for Research, USC).
Team Science is on the rise
Percentage of papers(A) and Team Size (B)
The growth of teams. These plots present changes over time in the fraction of papers and patents written in teams (A)
and in mean team size (B). Each line represents the arithmetic average taken over all subfields in each year.
Wuchty, S., Jones, B.F., & Uzzi, B. (2007). The increasing dominance of teams in production of knowledge. Science, 316, 1036-1039.
Ratio of citations
Citation Advantages of Teams
Social Sciences
Wuchty, S., Jones, B.F., & Uzzi, B. (2007). The increasing dominance of teams in production of knowledge. Science, 316, 1036-1039.
Rise in Team Size in Psychology
Rate of Growth
Wuchty, S., Jones, B.F., & Uzzi, B. (2007). The increasing dominance of teams in production of knowledge. Science, 316, 1036-1039.
Analysis of Cognitive Science Society
Schunn, Crowly & Okada, 1998
• Changes are qualitative, not just quantitative
– “Multidisciplinary collaborations are different in
their structure than monodisciplinary
collaborations. In particular, they involve
combining different research styles, more
frequently proposing alternative ideas, and having
a more equal status working relationship. “
NSF Spatial Intelligence and Learning
• Diversity of goals
– Basic research on spatial cognition (cognitive
scientists, computer scientists, neuroscientists),
particularly in relation to STEM success
– Development of tools and methods to improve spatial
thinking in preschoolers through adults
– Translational research
• Collaborations with disciplinary experts in other fields (e.g.,
• Collaborations with experts in science and math education
• Collaborations with museum educators
• Collaboration with curriculum developers
Developmental Research on Team
Increases interest, retention, higher order thinking, across wide
range of ages and problem types (Gokhale, 1995;
Johnson & Johnson, 1986; Qin et al., 1995)
All this sounds good
• So what’s the problem?
“Are there impediments to interdisciplinary
research at your current institution?”
Facilitating Interdisciplinary Research, 2004, Committee on
Science, Engineering, and Public Policy (COSEPUP) Convocation
Challenges for Graduate Students and
Junior Faculty
• How will hiring choices be made?
– Tension between hiring someone who works solely in
one’s own disciplines versus someone who may spend
some time working with people in other disciplines –
we still largely live in disciplinary silos.
• How will promotion decisions be made?
– Tension between traditional culture of evaluating
individual’s contributions and benefits of team science
Need to reconcile tenure reward
structure with team science benefits
• This reconciliation should be a no-brainer if
achievement is measured in terms of scientific
– Demands of tenure
• “bold theoretical advances or breakthroughs”
• “not only contributed to domains in which he/she works, but
transforming those domains’
• “revolutioning domains in which he/she works”
– Team Science is more likely to lead to such
• But requires a culture change
Traditional Evaluation Criteria
• Number and quality of publications with an
emphasis on first-authored publications, P.I.
on grants
• How has the individual scientist’s research led
to new insights, a paradigm shift, transformed
research in a domain?
Challenges in Evaluation
• Status quo – “This is how I was evaluated!”
– Senior faculty, Dean, Provost
– External reviewers
• How does a young scientist get “credit” for
their contributions to a team project
– How does a young scientist build a reputation,
especially if there are many senior members of a
team, which often is the case?
The enemy within: Comments on
junior applicants
• In hiring committee: “They have a lot of
publications, but I worry that many of them
are not first-authored?”
• At time of renewal and tenure-review:
– “Are too many of the papers co-authored with a
former advisor?”
– “Is he/she collaborating too much.”
– “Who is driving the research?”
Helping junior faculty successfully
navigate the rewards and pitfalls of team
• Mentorship
• Explicitly state value of team science in
tenure letter requests
• Making the case
• Educate deans and provost
Bonnie Spring, Arlen C. Moller, and Holly FalkKrzesinski. Northwestern
University, 11 Apr. 2011. Web.
Mentoring from the start
• Help junior faculty member define their role
on the project
– Articulate their unique contribution to the project
– Why is their particular expertise needed?
– Which aspects of the project are they taking the
lead on?
Mentoring from the start
• Junior faculty should not feel pressured to
participate in a team project (feedback from a
junior colleague)
• Given the current climate, the junior faculty
member may need to be the first author on
some of the publications – this is the current
• And may need some work outside of the team
science framework.
Tenure Request Letter
• Expicitly state that your institution values
team science and recognizes that participation
in such endeavors may reduce the number of
first-authored publications
Make the case for A.P.
• “Assessing the impact of any individual
scholar can be difficult given the increasingly
collaborative nature of cutting edge
psychological science.” BUT…….
Make the case for A.P.
• A.P. has developed rich and productive collaborative
relationships with multiple teams of scholars
• A.P. is the one constant contributor to the broad set of
high quality papers on CV
• A.P. has consistently served as first author on
publications –A.P. is the prime mover in this aspect of
the research.
• Several papers have been sole-authored or coauthored with graduate students
• A.P. has developed another productive line of research
Educate and motivate administrators
• Team science is on the upswing and leads to
cutting edge advances as well as large grants
• Individuals who participate in team science
efforts are a valued commodity – future leaders
• Team science can increase diversity
• Participants in team science may be better
• The image of the lone scientist is no longer the
modal model – may not even be optimal!
Added benefit of Team Science:
Increased Diversity
• Women value communal goals, including working with
or helping others more than men
• STEM careers are thought not to fulfill these goals.
• Activating communal goals increases women’s interest
in STEM and eliminates gender difference
• This can affect entry of women into STEM disciplines
• Can also affect career success, where a culture of
disciplinary evaluation and rewards still predominates.
(e.g., Diekman et al., JPSP, 2011).
Time Spent on
UK Gender
Junior Women1.4x
Jr Women not PE
Responses from 5,505 researchers in higher
education institutions in the United
Kingdom, Evaluation Associates, 1999
Culture Change Needed
• This takes time and effort
• Fundamental Question: Is interdisciplinarity
valued or discouraged in your department, your
institution? (Wanda Ward, NSF)
– This can impact the nature of the science that is done
and the diversity of your department
• Educating others – not only deans and provosts
but members of one’s own department and
colleagues at other institutions who are writing
evaluation letters for tenure and promotion.
Bottom Line
• Insisting that young psychological scientists avoid
collaborative research to establish their
independence may be counterproductive if the
goal is to maximize the quality and impact of
• The contingency structure in psychology needs a
serious overhaul if we want young scientists to be
able to “safely” participate in team science.
• Chairs can play an important role in facilitating
this culture change.
Thank you!

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