Collaborative research networks in health: a pragmatic scoping study for the development of an imaging network

Health Res Policy Syst. 2015 Dec 9:13:76. doi: 10.1186/s12961-015-0067-y.


Background: Collaborative research networks are often touted as a solution for enhancing the translation of knowledge, but questions remain about how to evaluate their impact on health service delivery. This pragmatic scoping study explored the enabling factors for developing and supporting a collaborative imaging network in a metropolitan university in Australia.

Methods: An advisory group was established to provide governance and to identify key informants and participants. Focus group discussions (n = 2) and semi-structured interviews (n = 22) were facilitated with representatives from a broad range of disciplines. In addition, a survey, a review of relevant websites (n = 15) and a broad review of the literature were undertaken to elicit information on collaborative research networks and perceived needs and factors that would support their involvement in a multi-disciplinary collaborative research network. Findings were de-identified and broad themes were identified.

Results: Participants identified human factors as having priority for developing and sustaining a collaborative research network. In particular, leadership, a shared vision and a communication plan that includes social media were identified as crucial for sustaining an imaging network in health research. It is important to develop metrics that map relationships between network members and the role that communication tools can contribute to this process.

Conclusions: This study confirms that human factors remain significant across a range of collaborative endeavours. The use of focus group discussions, interviews, and literature and website reviews means we can now strongly recommend the primacy of human factors. More work is needed to identify how the network operates and what specific indicators or metrics help build the capacity of clinicians and scientists to participate in translational research.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Advisory Committees / organization & administration
  • Community Networks / organization & administration*
  • Cooperative Behavior
  • Diagnostic Imaging / instrumentation
  • Diagnostic Imaging / standards*
  • Focus Groups
  • Health Care Sector / organization & administration*
  • Health Services Research / methods
  • Health Services Research / organization & administration*
  • Humans
  • Information Dissemination / methods
  • Internet
  • Interviews as Topic
  • Medical Informatics / methods
  • Medical Informatics / organization & administration*
  • New South Wales
  • Organizational Case Studies
  • Qualitative Research
  • Social Media / organization & administration*
  • Social Media / standards
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Technology Assessment, Biomedical / methods
  • Technology Assessment, Biomedical / organization & administration*
  • Technology Assessment, Biomedical / standards
  • Translational Research, Biomedical / methods
  • Translational Research, Biomedical / organization & administration*
  • Universities