Science of Team Science

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A team, in the context of team science, typically means a group of two or more researchers collaborating to identify or define the empirical question to be explored and then working together toward a common goal. There are several ways these teams can form and function. They're often categorized as one of the following: unidisciplinary, multidisciplinary, interdisciplinary and transdisciplinary.

Let's use Wendy Austin's fruit metaphor to take a look at each of these kinds of team science. With unidisciplinary team science, researchers from a single discipline work together to address a common research problem. So let's say unidisciplinary team science is an orange.

In multidisciplinary team science, researchers in different disciplines work in a sequential, yet independent process in which each develops a discipline-specific perspective, with a goal of eventually combining efforts to address a common research problem. So multidisciplinary team science would be a fruit salad with oranges in it.

You can liken interdisciplinary team science to a fruit smoothie with oranges, in which the process is interactive and researchers work jointly to draw from his or her own disciplinary-specific perspective to address a common research problem.

Transdisciplinary team science is an integrative process in which researchers work jointly to develop and use a shared conceptual framework that synthesizes and extends discipline-specific theories, concepts, methods, or all three to create new models and language to address a common research problem.

In this metaphor, transdisciplinary team science would be a Mexican-Asian fusion dish that includes the smoothie as part of the meal.

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Now, try categorizing each type on your own by dragging the terms on screen to their corresponding definitions.