Reward and Recognition for Team-Based and Cross-disciplinary Research

Dr. Holly J. Falk-Krzesinski, Elsevier and Northwestern University; Dr. Kara L. Hall, National Cancer Institute, National Institutes of Health; Dr. Julie Thompson Klein, Wayne State University and International Research Affiliate, Transdisciplinarity Lab, ETH-Zurich; Dr. Amanda L. Vogel, Leidos Biomedical Research, Inc.

Recognition and reward systems, and particularly promotion and tenure policies, are essential factors in performance and evaluation of collaborative research, including cross-disciplinary team science. But, on the whole, promotion and tenure policies have been slow to change to reflect the growth of these approaches. A survey by the US National Academies in 2004 revealed that provosts as well as individuals considered promotion and tenure criteria the top impediment to cross-disciplinary research (Institute of Medicine, 2005). Recommendations and some changes followed. Yet, a decade later the National Research Council report, Enhancing the Effectiveness of Team Science, reported that most US universities continued to lack comprehensive and explicit criteria for evaluating individual contributions to team-based research.

This panel provides an overview of this important topic through a review of recent guidance documents and white papers, a summary of recent empirical research on promotion and tenure policies pertinent to team science, and a synthesis of literature on this topic.  It will culminate in interactive discussion with audience members.

Falk-Krzesinski will open the panel with an introduction to this topic, including highlights of a recent report by the Canadian Academy of Health Sciences, entitled, Academic Recognition of Team Science: How to Optimize the Canadian Academic System which outlines 12 recommendations to facilitate appropriate recognition of individual contributions to team science. The recommendations encompass aspects of recognition and reward in the promotion and tenure system and efforts by publishers and expertise systems to recognize the full range of contributions to collaborative, team-based research articles and other types of research output. Additionally, she’ll share her experience speaking with university leaders over the last five years about their efforts for institutional change.  

Hall and Vogel will then share methods and findings from a rigorous study of promotion and tenure policies from the US National Institutes of Health supported Clinical and Translational Science Award (CTSA) recipient institutions. The CTSA award is the largest NIH award for team-based, cross-disciplinary and translational science, and as such, these institutions represent the leading edge in these scientific approaches. In 2014, new language was included in the annually released funding opportunity announcement (FOA) stating that “CTSA hubs should advance team science and develop academic promotion criteria that help create a viable career path for translational scientists.”  The presentation will include analyses from data collected at three time points from 124 units (medical schools and central administrations) across 69 research institutions. The presentation will explore the ways in which policy language acknowledges the growing prevalence, value, and importance of team science and interdisciplinary research, provides encouragement and recognition of faculty engagement in team science and interdisciplinary research, specifies criteria for evaluation of team science and interdisciplinary research, contributions, provides guidance for how to document indicators and processes for review, and outlines institutional support for team science and interdisciplinary research. We include examples of institutional support for team science and interdisciplinary research and the specific types of contribution to collaborative work. Additionally, we will highlight how promotion and tenure policies are, and are not, evolving to recognize and reward these scientific approaches, and offer models of effective language to help advance promotion and tenure policies to match the accelerating uptake of these approaches in science.

Klein will follow with findings from a literature review she and Falk-Krzesinski conducted, published in the journal Research Policy. It synthesized findings on promotion and tenure for interdisciplinary and collaborative work. Klein will highlight the importance of creating a culture of recognition and reward for team science that is consistent, aligned, and comprehensive at all stages and levels of evaluation. A systematic and informed approach includes taking preliminary steps, revisiting existing practices and institutional policies, writing new guidelines, preparing a dossier for evaluations, and advancing support of professional organizations. Their accompanying handout will include the table codifying strategies and references for further reading.

The panel will invite the audience to raise questions, contribute their insights from personal experience, and offer action steps for advancing the stature of team science in the academic reward system.  The panel will offer the opportunity to learn about the current state of evaluating promotion and tenure with emphasis on contexts of team science, and to gain effective practices for reforming local institutional cultures and revising promotion and tenure policies and procedures.

How extensive is the literature on evaluation of tenure and promotion for individuals conducting interdisciplinary and cross-disciplinary research?

What insights emerged from the two surveys highlighted in this panel?

What are the major barriers and impediments to evaluating individual contributions to team research?

What are the prominent strategies for appropriate evaluation and related criteria?

Holly J. Falk-Krzesinski, PhD, is the Vice President, Research Intelligence, Elsevier and Adjunct Senior Instructor, Northwestern University. She created the first academic team science unit as part of Northwestern’s NIH-funded CTSA Hub. Through her leadership with the Annual SciTS Conference, the International Network for the Science of Team Science (INSciTS), the tool, a team science research program and a comprehensive team science community library, and involvement with three national team science initiatives, Dr. Falk-Krzesinski has been instrumental in developing a strong international community of practice for team science and the science of team science.

Kara L. Hall, PhD, is Health Scientist, the Director of the Science of Team Science (SciTS) Team, and Director of the Theories Initiative in the Behavioral Research Program at the National Cancer Institute (NCI). She is a founder of the SciTS field, chair of multiple past SciTS conferences, and a member of the INSciTS Board.

Dr. Julie Thompson Klein, Professor of Humanities Emerita, Wayne State University and International Research Affiliate, Transdisciplinarity Lab, ETH-Zurich). Wayne State University and TD-Lab at ETH-Zurich. Klein is an internationally known scholar of cross-disciplinary and cross-boundary research, education and problem solving. She is also a member of the INSciTS Board.

Amanda L. Vogel, PhD, MPH is Global Health Evaluation Specialist, Leidos Biomedical Research supporting the Center for Global Health, National Cancer Institute.  She is a nationally known SciTS scholar, and membership chair of INSciTS.

SciTS Presentation: Reward and Recognition for Team-Based & Cross-Disciplinary Research