Convergence & Team Science

Funders understand that solutions to complex problems will require broad perspectives. Increasingly, like in all sectors of public and private life, collaborative work is valued because of it examines how representation of multiple experiences, methods, perspectives and contexts are needed to solve big problems.​

Valuing diverse perspectives to solve problems isn’t new. But applying these methods is relatively new to external funding for research as demonstrated by an increase in funding opportunities which prioritize or require “convergent,” “multi-disciplinary” “transdisciplinary,” and other team-based approaches.

Team Science is more than assembling a group of people from different disciplines who share responsibilities or equipment but retain shared scientific worldview within their disciplines. Rather it is a concerted effort by a group of stakeholders to achieve a comprehensive examination of a complex issue characterized by integration and synergy across worldviews to achieve “breakthrough” science.

Beyond the research objectives, Team Science initiatives seek to study how, and the extent to which, a convergent /team approach contributes to outcomes.

MSU seeks to support Team Science initiatives and activities by encouraging cross-disciplinary synergies and facilitating complementary, multi-disciplinary teams. For more information on Team Science, see these resources:

The Science of Team Science (SciTS) is a rapidly emerging field focused on maximizing the efficiency, productivity, and effectiveness of team science initiatives. Funding opportunities which require or encourage Team Science are looking to identify:

  • methods and models for studying TS as related to the funder's purpose;
  • how collaborative processes and outcomes are affected by a variety of contextual environmental factors, including team characteristics and group dynamics;
  • what type of leadership is effective? 
  • what is the ideal team composition for a specific problem? 
  • which communication methods are most successful? 
  • if the type of Team Science activities or interventions needed for success vary by type of research? EX: education v. engineering)

Team Science Proposals have unique development requirements and Merit Review Criteria. Additional grantsmanship considerations for such proposals include:

  • The way we think about familiar components (shared equipment, facilities and resources, data management)
  • How and why team approach is better for project; must make clear the importance of team over individual
  • Additional required subsections and specialized components
  • Budgeting - often includes start up time, travel to funding agency meetings, essential equipment, coordinating staff, regular organizing meetings
  • Separate, specific TS review criteria
  • Leadership plans and management/administrative planning (multi PD/PI)
  • Demonstration of mutual agreement and commitment of partners (MOAs, etc.)