Introduction: Stakeholder engagement can play an important role in increasing public trust and the understanding of scientific research and its impact. Frameworks for stakeholder identification exist, but these frameworks may not apply well to basic science and early stage translational research.
Methods: Four Clinical and Translational Science Award (CTSA) hubs led six focus groups and two semi-structured interviews using a semi-structured discussion guide to learn from basic science researchers about stakeholder engagement in their work. The 24 participants represented fourteen clinical and academic disciplines.
Results: Early stage translational researchers reported engagement with a broad array of stakeholders. Those whose research has a clinical focus reported working with a more diverse range of stakeholders than those whose work did not. Common barriers to stakeholder engagement were grouped into three major themes: a poor definition of concepts, absence of guidance, and limited resources.
Discussion: The National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences (NCATS), the consortium of CTSAs, and the individual CTSA "hubs" are three actors that can help early stage translational researchers develop shared terms of reference, build the necessary skills, and assemble the appropriate resources for engaging stakeholders in Clinical and Translational Research. Getting this right will involve a coordinated push by all three entities.