Creating cross-disciplinary research alliances to advance nursing science

J Nurs Scholarsh. 2008;40(2):195-201. doi: 10.1111/j.1547-5069.2008.00226.x.


Purpose: To demonstrate the utility of a developmental approach to building and sustaining cross-disciplinary research alliances.

Organizing construct: Cross-disciplinary collaborations offer great promise for advancing an evolving program of research. Funding agencies' commitment to interdisciplinary work further heightens these collaborations. Nurse researchers, however, are not necessarily equipped with the knowledge and skills needed to strategically and successfully build and maintain cross-disciplinary collaborations.

Methods: Successful strategies for forging, extending, and sustaining alliances are organized using a developmental approach and illustrated by exemplars.

Findings: The initial phase of forging alliances is focused on creating a limited network to support relatively clear-cut research goals. The cohesive cross-disciplinary team is subsequently extended beyond the initial team to strategically address broader research goals. As the team matures, emphasis shifts toward sustaining the team through shared leadership that more actively focuses on the development of the field than the development of individual programs of research.

Conclusions: The advancement of nursing science requires nurse researchers to rethink the developmental phases of building appropriate research teams. Strategic approaches for forging, extending, and sustaining cross-disciplinary alliances position nurse researchers as leaders in innovative cross-disciplinary research. The development of cross-disciplinary teams supports translational research and, by extension, the science that undergirds practice.

Clinical relevance: Research that reflects cross-disciplinary perspectives is particularly well suited to addressing the complex health issues encountered by patients, families, and communities.

MeSH terms

  • Humans
  • Interdisciplinary Communication*
  • Interprofessional Relations*
  • Mentors
  • Nursing Research / organization & administration*