Assessing the value of team science: a study comparing center- and investigator-initiated grants

Am J Prev Med. 2012 Feb;42(2):157-63. doi: 10.1016/j.amepre.2011.10.011.


Background: Large cross-disciplinary scientific teams are becoming increasingly prominent in the conduct of research.

Purpose: This paper reports on a quasi-experimental longitudinal study conducted to compare bibliometric indicators of scientific collaboration, productivity, and impact of center-based transdisciplinary team science initiatives and traditional investigator-initiated grants in the same field.

Methods: All grants began between 1994 and 2004 and up to 10 years of publication data were collected for each grant. Publication information was compiled and analyzed during the spring and summer of 2010.

Results: Following an initial lag period, the transdisciplinary research center grants had higher overall publication rates than the investigator-initiated R01 (NIH Research Project Grant Program) grants. There were relatively uniform publication rates across the research center grants compared to dramatically dispersed publication rates among the R01 grants. On average, publications produced by the research center grants had greater numbers of coauthors but similar journal impact factors compared with publications produced by the R01 grants.

Conclusions: The lag in productivity among the transdisciplinary center grants was offset by their overall higher publication rates and average number of coauthors per publication, relative to investigator-initiated grants, over the 10-year comparison period. The findings suggest that transdisciplinary center grants create benefits for both scientific productivity and collaboration.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Cooperative Behavior*
  • Efficiency, Organizational*
  • Financing, Organized*
  • Interdisciplinary Communication*
  • Research*
  • Smoking
  • Tobacco