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ResourcesResearch IntegrityAuthorship and Team Science – JAMA Network (Editorial | Phil Fontanarosa, et al | December 2017)

Australasian Human Research Ethics Consultancy Services Pty Ltd (AHRECS)

Authorship and Team Science – JAMA Network (Editorial | Phil Fontanarosa, et al | December 2017)


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The complexity, scope, and scale of scientific research have expanded substantially. During the past several decades, there has been increasing prevalence of large, international, multicenter clinical trials; multidisciplinary investigations involving interventional studies or observational research; and studies that combine large data sets (“big data”) from multiple cohorts or research consortia and use sophisticated analytic methods, such as in some studies involving genomic research or machine learning. This trend toward increasingly collaborative research involving multiple investigators and research groups has been referred to as group science, ensemble science, or more commonly, team science.1 How authors and nonauthor collaborators can be identified in publications to ensure appropriate credit and recognition of team science is evolving, can be challenging, and is of great importance to the scientific community and individual investigators.

This editorial is a reliable and useful example for grappling with the issues associated with very large collaborations. It is a recommended inclusion in institutional research integrity resource libraries and has been added as essential reading in the AHRECS Resource Library

Team science has real and potential advantages, including the ability to bring expertise and experience from numerous investigators or disciplines to address an important research topic from multiple perspectives and the ability to collect or combine data from various sites or cohorts to generate large data sets to address scientific questions efficiently and effectively. Team science is likely to increase with the growth of research networks and consortia and the continued emergence of big data and data sharing.2
Team science also creates potential challenges, including identifying the optimal group of investigators to address the study questions of interest; rigorously addressing issues of heterogeneity in attempts to combine data or data sets; ensuring engagement, appropriate participation, and supervision of all members of the scientific team; reaching agreement and consensus regarding presentation and interpretation of study findings; and appropriately recognizing the contributions of individual members of the research team in scientific publication.

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