Paper Session: Facilitating Team Science to Foster Improved Interactions

Tuesday, August 2, 2022
3:00 PM - 5:15 PM ET

Science Facilitation: Navigating the Intersection of Intellectual and Interpersonal Expertise in Scientific Collaboration

Hanna Love

Abstract: Today's societal challenges, such as climate change and global pandemics, are increasingly complex and require collaboration across scientific disciplines to address. Scientific teams bring together individuals and groups of varying backgrounds and expertise to work collaboratively on creating new knowledge to address these challenges. Within a scientific team, there is inherent diversity in disciplinary cultures and preferences for interpersonal collaboration. Such diversity contributes to the potential strength of the created knowledge but can also impede progress when teams struggle to collaborate productively. Facilitation is a professional practice-based form of expertise that supports group members to do their best thinking. Although facilitation has been demonstrated to support group functioning in a wide range of contexts, its role in supporting scientific teams has been largely overlooked. This essay defines scientific facilitation as a form of interactional expertise and explains how facilitating scientific teams requires skills in managing interpersonal interactions as well as understanding how different types of disciplinary knowledge integrate in the creation of new knowledge. Next, it explains how this science facilitation expertise may be developed through metacognition. Finally, it provides examples of how scientific facilitation could be more widely incorporated into research by describing three pathways to expand the use of facilitation theory and techniques in collaborative scientific research: developing facilitation skills among scientists leading teams, using broadly-trained facilitators, and using specialized science facilitators. The strengths and risks of each path are discussed and criteria are suggested for selecting the right approach for a given project.

Toward a Research Agenda for Facilitating Clinical and Translational Research Teams

Betsy Rolland

Abstract: Clinical and Translational Research (CTR) Teams have a number of characteristics that make them especially challenging to form, launch, lead, manage, and evaluate. First, CTR teams are, by definition, interdisciplinary, with all the accompanying challenges of creating shared vocabularies and mental models. Second, CTR teams generally engage community partners and other stakeholders from outside the university, creating opportunities to integrate such individuals as true team members, something few researchers are trained to do. Third, CTR teams have as an explicit goal the creation of a product of some kind, which may be a drug, a device, or an intervention. This product development work within the environment of an academic institution can create additional challenges with regards to intellectual property and general operations.The CTSA Team Science Affinity Group (TSAG) is comprised of team science leaders from CTSA hubs across the US. TSAG meets monthly to hear works in progress and discuss barriers and facilitators to supporting CTR teams. In January 2022, the TSAG began a multi-month process of defining a research agenda for the facilitation of CTSA-based Team Science programs. Drawing from Hall et al. (2018), over two monthly sessions, we discussed seven key areas, including: (1) Measuring impact & productivity; (2) Team configuration challenges; (3) Training; (4) Multiteam systems; (5) Leadership; (6) Technology; and (7) Need for more sophisticated study designs & methods. For each topic, we asked breakout groups to discuss three guiding questions: (a) What are you, as a CTSA team science leader, struggling with in this area?; (b) What do you want to know to help you run your program better and better support your CTR teams?; and (c) What research questions would you like to ask?. Each of us (BR, KG, WM, KW) facilitated at least one of these sessions. Discussion was captured in a google doc during the session.After these discussions, we identified common themes that emerged from the discussion that crossed multiple topics (e.g., need for defined training paths for Team Science experts). In the coming months (April, May, and June), we plan to work with the TSAG to elaborate on the themes and understand existing resources and literature that can be shared back with the group. We will then create a prioritized list of research topics that can be led by TSAG members, leveraging the CTSA network to understand the needs of CTSA leaders in facilitating teams and to continue to develop tools and resources that CTR teams themselves can use to improve team effectiveness. The result of this work will be a community-generated research agenda for advancing the SciTS field specifically for CTR teams.This presentation will describe the identified barriers and facilitators to facilitating CTR team science, as well as the cross-cutting themes and the proposed research agenda. We will end with ways SciTS community members can contribute.

NASA ICESat-2 Applications: Cross-Disciplinary Collaboration for Improved Decision Making

Sabrina Delgado Arias

Abstract: The NASA Ice, Cloud, and Land Elevation Satellite-2 mission (ICESat-2), launched in September 2018, provides accurate elevation observations of Earth's surface globally, including data over ice, sea ice, the atmosphere, vegetation, land, oceans, and inland water. Because the mission uses a photon-counting approach to measure Earth elevation, which not all applied science users are familiar with, the ICESat-2 Applications program has engaged the community through active outreach, an Early Adopter/Applied Users program, collaborating with the mission's Science Team, project science office and distributive active archive center (DAAC), as well as through publications in a variety of outlets. Through this engagement, the ICESat-2's Applications Program has provided insight into the range of actual and potential uses of ICESat-2 observations and helped communicate the value and impact of mission products.A strong Applications Team has provided the foundation for the smooth running of the various engagement and participatory outreach activities. An interdisciplinary team of scientists has led the Applications team since the start of the program. The team includes applications scientists, as well as members of the mission's Project Science Office and Science Team, with diverse set of experiences and knowledge. An Applications Coordinator keeps all members updated on all activities and reports to the Program Applications Lead at NASA HQ, as well as to the Science Team Lead. Having a full-time Applications Coordinator has allowed for consistent and continuous efforts in support of the Applications Team, as well as a consistent point-of-contact to facilitate relationship building with the user community. Together the Applications team has created a dialogue between users of remote sensing observations and satellite mission scientists that helped build broad support for ICESat-2 applications, as well as clarified key data characteristics uniquely inherent to individual decision processes and operations (e.g., latency, spatial and temporal resolutions).In this presentation, we highlight the pre-launch and post-launch engagement initiatives implemented by the Applications team and preliminary findings on the impact of the applications program to the mission, including how the program led to smarter design of the data products. We present the ICESat-2 Applications Program as a novel pathway for building partnerships between satellite data users and mission scientists and as an example of how the NASA Earth science community is supporting the coproduction of knowledge, within and outside of NASA, for new earth science observations to increase the effectiveness of their use in societally relevant decision processes and actions.