Abstract: Growing interest in promoting cross-disciplinary collaboration among health scientists has prompted several federal agencies, including the NIH, to establish large, multicenter initiatives intended to foster collaborative research and training. In order to assess whether these initiatives are effective in promoting scientific collaboration that ultimately results in public health improvements, it is necessary to develop new strategies for evaluating research processes and products as well as the longer-term societal outcomes associated with these programs. Ideally, evaluative measures should be administered over the entire course of large initiatives, including their near-term and later phases. The present study focuses on the development of new tools for assessing the readiness for collaboration among health scientists at the outset (during the first year) of their participation in the National Cancer Institute's Transdisciplinary Research on Energetics and Cancer (TREC) initiative. Indexes of collaborative readiness, along with additional measures of near-term collaborative processes, were administered as part of the TREC Year-One evaluation survey. Additionally, early progress toward scientific collaboration and integration was assessed, using a protocol for evaluating written research products. Results from the Year-One survey and the ratings of written products provide evidence of cross-disciplinary collaboration among participants during the first year of the initiative, and also reveal opportunities for enhancing collaborative processes and outcomes during subsequent phases of the project. The implications of these findings for future evaluations of team science initiatives are discussed.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
This article is based on a paper presented at the National Cancer Institute Conference on The Science of Team Science: Assessing the Value of Transdisciplinary Research on October 30–31, 2006, in Bethesda MD. This research was supported by an Intergovernmental Personnel Act (IPA) contract to Daniel Stokols from the Division of Cancer Control and Population Sciences of the NCI; by Cancer Research and Training Award fellowships to Kara L. Hall and Brandie K. Taylor; and by the NCI TREC initiative. Additionally this research was supported by the following TREC-center grants funded by the NCI: U01 CA-116850-01; U54 CA-116847-01; U54 CA-116867-01; U54 CA-116848-01; and U54 CA-116849-01.