1. Meneses, Karen Dow PhD, RN, FAAN

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Although the idea of the wheel might have been a gestalt originating with one person, its actual creation probably involved multiple individuals engaged in some sort of cooperative effort. Thus, teamwork is not a new concept. Team science is much newer. Teamwork is a necessary but not sufficient requirement for team science. So what is team science, and why the buzz?


Team science recognizes that the one-size-fits-all research approach is lacking. The picture of a lone investigator toiling away in a laboratory is a quaint but fading image compared with the reality of today's nursing research challenges and opportunities. In fact, team science is a paradigmatic shift from the single-investigator approach to a multiple-investigator, shared-interest approach. It is somewhat ironic that team science augments, but does not supplant, the individual investigator. Team science emphasizes shared, collective interest rather than the individual interest. Science and methods address the research problem, which drive team science, not vice versa. In biomedical research, the shared interest may be a shared facility for basic or translational research, a shared database for data mining, or both. Or there may be a need for a shared intellectual challenge in which there is yet no critical mass. Current examples of team science include consortia, centers, institutes, and networks.


Mary Lidstrom (2005) identified that the guiding principles for team science must include the preservation of individual creativity, leadership, integrity, mutual trust, and respect. More importantly, high motivation is needed to bring a team together and encourage collaboration. Team science is not synonymous with big science. However, team science necessarily adds complexity with further administrative oversight and modifications in infrastructure supports.


The National Institutes of Health (NIH) recently issued guidelines for submitting applications that use a team science approach where multiple principal investigators (PIs) may be required (NIH, 2006). Team science grant applications require a leadership plan built into the overall research plan. The leadership plan should facilitate and enhance research productivity and integrity and proactively address situations of multiple PI disagreements. Thus, a detailed plan for communication, allocation of resources, intellectual property, publication credits, handling of disagreements, and procedures for handling conflicts is required.


Why should team science matter to nursing? Our research is increasingly complex, requiring multiple disciplines or experts working together to solve intricate and challenging health problems. Although nursing is beginning to develop and participate in centers, consortia, and institutes, our voice is still small. Individual, single-investigator approaches dominate our research landscape.


Are we ready for a team science approach in nursing? Let us take a seat at the table and start to talk. Our legacy of strong teamwork in the past provides a strong foundation to build team science in the future.


Karen Dow Meneses, PhD, RN, FAAN


Associate Editor


Pegasus Professor and Beat & Jill Kahli Endowed Chair in Oncology Nursing


School of Nursing, University of Central Florida


[email protected]




Lidstrom, M. (2005). Team science. Retrieved from Accessed January 15, 2007. [Context Link]


National Institutes of Health. (2006). Establishment of multiple principal investigator awards for team science projects. Retrieved January 7, 2006, from [Context Link]