Heterogeneity at Work: Implications of the 2012 Clinical Translational Science Award Evaluators Survey

Cathleen Kane, Angela Alexander, Janice A. Hogle, Helen M. Parsons, Lauren Phelps

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


The Clinical and Translational Science Award (CTSA) program is an ambitious multibillion dollar initiative sponsored by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) organized around the mission of facilitating the improved quality, efficiency, and effectiveness of translational health sciences research across the country. Although the NIH explicitly requires internal evaluation, funded CTSA institutions are given wide latitude to choose the structure and methods for evaluating their local CTSA program. The National Evaluators Survey was developed by a peer-led group of local CTSA evaluators as a voluntary effort to understand emerging differences and commonalities in evaluation teams and techniques across the 61 CTSA institutions funded nationwide. This article presents the results of the 2012 National Evaluators Survey, finding significant heterogeneity in evaluation staffing, organization, and methods across the 58 CTSAs institutions responding. The variety reflected in these findings represents both a liability and strength. A lack of standardization may impair the ability to make use of common metrics, but variation is also a successful evolutionary response to complexity. Additionally, the peer-led approach and simple design demonstrated by the questionnaire itself has value as an example of an evaluation technique with potential for replication in other areas across the CTSA institutions or any large-scale investment where multiple related teams across a wide geographic area are given the latitude to develop specialized approaches to fulfilling a common mission.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)447-463
Number of pages17
JournalEvaluation and the Health Professions
Issue number4
StatePublished - Dec 2013

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The author(s) disclosed receipt of the following financial support for the research, authorship, and/or publication of this article: This project was supported by the CTSA program, through the NIH National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences (NCATS), grant UL1TR000457 to the Weill Cornell Clinical and Translational Science Center (CTSC); grant UL1TR000100 to the University of California San Diego (UCSD) Clinical and Translational Research Institute (CTRI); grant UL1TR000427 to the University of Wisconsin-Madison Institute for Clinical and Translational Research (UW ICTR); grant UL1TR000149-05 to the University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio for the Institute for Integration of Medicine & Science (IIMS); and grant 8UL1TR000090-05 to the Ohio State University for the Center for Clinical and Translational Science (CCTS).

Funding Information:
Originally the Clinical and Translational Science Award (CTSA) was funded by the National Center for Research Resources (NCRR), at National Institutes of Health (NIH), but at the end of 2011, NCRR was dissolved; the National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences (NCATS) was established, and the CTSA program was moved to NCATS.


  • clinical translational science awards
  • evaluation methods
  • peer led
  • translational science


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