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National Cancer Institute

Recognition for Team Science and Interdisciplinarity in Academia: An Analysis of Promotion and Tenure Policy Language from Clinical Translational Science Award (CTSA) Institutions

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Ku C, Hall K, Vogel A, Banacki A, Klein J, Bennett M, Gadlin H, and Falk-Krzesinski H. Recognition for Team Science and Interdisciplinarity in Academia: An Analysis of Promotion and Tenure Policy Language from Clinical Translational Science Award (CTSA) Institutions. Poster presentation at Fourth Annual International Science of Team Science Conference,. Evanston, IL. Jun 26, 2013.

Team science has the potential to generate important and novel scientific advances, including cross-disciplinary advances. However, it can also pose practical challenges in areas ranging from project management to career advancement. Although academic institutions have begun to use terms such as “interdisciplinary” and “team” to describe their research and scholarly programs, these institutions have been slow to figure out how to adequately recognize and reward individual accomplishments that occur across disciplines and in the context of collaborative work. As a result, junior investigators, in particular, can be deterred from pursuing team-based and cross-disciplinary work. This poster presents initial findings from a qualitative analysis of promotion and tenure language and policies on team science and cross-disciplinary science from 33 academic institutions in the U.S. In June 2012, we emailed central administrators and medical school faculty affairs representatives at sixty academic institutions that received NIH Clinical and Translational Science Awards (CTSAs) to request that they send us excerpts from their promotion and tenure policies that address “collaborations/collaborative activity, multi/interdisciplinary research and scholarship, and/or team science.” Representatives from 43 institutions responded; 10 indicated they did not have specific promotion and tenure language on these areas, and 33 sent us promotion and tenure language relevant to this study. We conducted a qualitative document analysis of the policy excerpts using a grounded theory approach in which data were marked with codes (open coding) and codes were compared, contrasted, and sorted into larger themes (axial coding). Our analysis revealed three dominant themes in the promotion and tenure language and related policies that was collected: 1) Recognition of team science, particularly with respect to the significance and prevalence of collaborative and/or cross-disciplinary scholarship in advancing science and the need to consider such scholarship in promotion and tenure decisions; 2) Criteria for evaluating team science, especially in regards to definitions/demonstrations of contributions to team-based work and how to “count” these contributions in promotion and tenure evaluations (e.g., expectations and requirements regarding authorship, publications and grants); and 3) Guidelines for evaluating team science, such as sources of evidence for the individual’s contributions to collaborative work and guidance for the review process and/or committee in assessing these contributions (e.g., guidelines for annotation of role/contribution in collaborative work in dossier materials, instructions for review committees to consider collaborative work). This analysis offers an inside look at promotion and tenure language among CTSA awarded institutions. These institutions comprise of academic organizations that have undertaken a major funded initiative to support translational science, an approach that typically requires collaboration and integration among disciplines. The analysis demonstrates the wide variation in the recognition of promotion and tenure language among this set of institutions. The analysis points to exemplary promotion and tenure language and processes designed to guide evaluations of faculty involved in cross-disciplinary research and team science collaborations, as well as highlights gap areas that merit being addressed.



Type of Publication:

Poster presentation


promotion, tenure, incentives, rewards, recognition, hiring

Addresses these goal(s):

  • Provide institutional support for team science

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Resource created by Amanda Vogel on 10/7/2015 3:29:46 PM.

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